Insurance should provide women’s preventative care, including contraception

As a physician who cares for Connecticut women’s reproductive health needs, I urge the Connecticut State General Assembly to pass the HB 5210, an Act Mandating Insurance Coverage of Essential Health Benefits and Expanding Mandated Health Benefits for Women, Children and Adolescents. This bill would require private insurance plans available in Connecticut to cover specific preventative services, including contraception, for women without added cost to policy-holders. Women should have access to preventative care regardless of action in Washington, D.C. and we in Connecticut can and must protect this essential care for the women of our state.

Protect funding for school-based health centers

Under pressure to end a long running stalemate over the Connecticut state budget last year, lawmakers made a number of decisions that continued the destructive trend of unraveling the human services safety net. The continuation of recent years’ cuts to state subsidy funding for School Based Health Centers (SBHC) is among the most destructive of these reductions. With the new legislative session underway, we are hopeful lawmakers will find a way to halt this trend and reject the governor’s current proposal to reduce the budget further, by 5.84 percent, on top of the 2.14 percent cut to the SBHCs in last October’s approved budget.

Democrats should leave pregnancy resource centers alone!

“It’s a blessing to have them in my life” said Jennifer Gambo, of Middletown, to a reporter outside of a pregnancy center targeted by Democrats this session. She and many thousands of women were helped by Connecticut pregnancy resource centers last year with counseling, pregnancy testing, education, ultrasounds, donations, encouragement and compassion for free.  It was not only free to the women who sought their help, but free to the state of Connecticut, which offers no financial support to the 27 centers throughout our state that offer care to all women.

Patient privacy at risk for the sake of medical data

It is truly amazing that medical records are considered less important than are phone records to be protected by the 4th amendment.
With H.B. 5290 and S.B. 16, Connecticut continues to override patient privacy rights in order to get data to determine Connecticut’s health care policies.

Medicaid work requirements don’t work for Connecticut patients

Connecticut is not a bad place to be on Medicaid, but it’s about to become a lot worse. As an internal medicine primary care resident, I care for many patients insured through Medicaid, a program which allows my patients’ chronic diseases (such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and depression) to be managed according to the most up-to-date evidence available. I screen my patients for colon cancer and cervical cancer. I counsel them to avoid tobacco, drink alcohol in moderation, and comfort them in difficult times. I have a lot to do to help my patients maintain their health.

Recent Medicare fixes will help Connecticut’s most vulnerable patients

Congress recently averted a healthcare crisis by working in a bipartisan fashion to fix a problematic Medicare policy that would have left many of Connecticut’s most vulnerable Medicare beneficiaries without access to lifesaving treatment. Lawmakers should build on this bipartisanship and ensure Medicare provides a comprehensive home infusion benefit for beneficiaries here and around the country.

Remembering the Connecticut Lottery attack

March 6 marks the 20th  anniversary of the Connecticut Lottery Corporation massacre in Newington.  That Friday, a 35-year-old employee used a knife and gun to kill four bosses. We condemn the actions of the killer, and express deep sympathy for all the victims and survivors. Within hours,  gun legislation, and metal detectors were discussed. After 20 years, we still have terrorism and violence — workplace, domestic, military, police, government …and yes, Columbine, Sandy Hook and Stoneman Douglas.

Provide for better mental health care — on your state income tax form

It would be easy to miss a major victory in the cause of improving mental health services and awareness for Connecticut residents on the CT form 1040 this year. At the end of the form, there is a list of causes to which taxpayers can donate all or a portion of their state tax refund. It’s a who’s who of well-known causes: wildlife, breast cancer, military families, AIDS research, college funds, safety net services, organ transplants … and now mental health and substance use.

How a statewide healthcare fee can make a healthier state

Illness is often unpredictable. When a person without insurance seeks care for a broken bone or the flu, they receive treatment regardless of their ability to pay. That is because we live in a compassionate society — but the treatment is not free. Taxpayers end up shouldering the burden through higher state taxes or increased provider costs. Economists call this phenomenon “free riding.” Many people are willing to risk going without health insurance knowing that they can get care (and others will pay) if there is a true emergency. … Connecticut can improve healthcare access while controlling the premiums insurance holders pay. I propose that all residents of the state take responsibility for their healthcare costs by either buying insurance or contributing a fraction of their income to healthcare savings accounts.

Overdose kit distribution: A how to guide

I’m not much of a host. But with the opioid epidemic getting worse, I knew we had to start doing overdose-kit distributions. The whys seem obvious. As a medical director for a large mental health and substance abuse non-profit agency —CMHA in New Britain— I see too much death. The toxicology reports from the state’s medical examiner increasingly come back positive for fentanyl, which is now present in over 50 percent of our fatal ODs. At 50 to several-thousand-times-more potent than morphine, fentanyls—yes, there are more than 20— from China have thrown gas onto the fire of America’s opioid epidemic.

On the Parkland massacre: ‘Thoughts and prayers are not enough. We must do something now’

It is with profound sorrow and empathy that we try to understand and come to terms with the massacre that occurred at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Valentine’s Day of all days. It is unthinkable that, once again, children and adults were shot and killed at a school, with at least 17 people dead and more wounded. We mourn for the victims and the survivors and reach out to all of their families who will be forever changed by this brutal act of violence.

A prescription for a better health care system for Bezos, Buffett and Dimon

As a primary care physician who’s worked in the trenches for 31 years, I’d like to offer some advice to Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett and Jamie Dimon as they prepare to tackle the health care system. If you want to improve health, increase access and lower the cost of health care, you need to emphasize primary care at all levels of the system: individual patients, patient populations, insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, and hospital systems.

To put this into perspective, consider the cost of American health care compared to outcomes. In 2015, the United States spent almost three times the amount on health care as countries with comparable incomes. This data was reported by the Organization for Economic Corporation and Development (OECD), a group of 35 countries with advanced economies that works to promote economic development.