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Pandemic’s Lasting Health Policy Changes, Troubling Opioid Epidemic Stats & More

August 21, 2023 (2 min read)

Lasting Health Policy Changes from Pandemic

A number of health-related state policy changes made during the COVID-19 public health emergency appear likely to remain in place indefinitely.

Over the past three years, hundreds of states have sought to extend temporary measures implemented during the pandemic expanding access to telehealth. For instance, New Hampshire enacted HB 500 in May permanently extending a pandemic-era rule allowing the prescription of opioids via telehealth.

Some states have moved to reduce the impact of Medicaid disenrollments, which had been suspended during the pandemic. California and Rhode Island established programs to transition those dropped from the Medicaid rolls to state-based plans. Eight states have also sought federal approval this year to extend postpartum Medicaid coverage to 12 months.

Over a dozen states enacted legislation making it easier for pharmacists to administer vaccines, effectively extending a federal pandemic measure that expired in May.

A number of states also made changes to privacy laws governing health data. New York, for example, clarified protections for immunization information, and Washington instituted comprehensive protections for consumer health data with the passage of the My Health, My Data Act. (PLURIBUS NEWS, STATE NET)

Most Opioid Addicts Aren’t Receiving Treatment

About 30 percent of adults have struggled with opioid addiction or have a family member who has, and less than 50 percent of them have received treatment, according to a recent poll by health policy research group KFF. There were roughly 110,000 fatal drug overdoses nationwide last year. (NEW YORK TIMES)

Federal Court Issues Ruling Restricting Mifepristone Access

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans ruled that the medication abortion drug mifepristone shouldn’t be prescribed via telehealth or after seven weeks of pregnancy. But the drug will remain available where abortion is legal until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the case. (NPR)

NC Hospitals Target Thousands of Patients with Lawsuits

Between 2017 and 2022 North Carolina hospitals filed debt collection lawsuits against over 7,500 patients and family members, according to a report produced by the state’s treasurer and researchers at Duke University School of Law. The findings support those of an investigation by KFF Health News and NPR, which revealed that most hospitals use aggressive tactics to collect unpaid patient bills like filing lawsuits and selling delinquent accounts to collection agencies. (KFF HEALTH).

—Compiled by SNCJ Managing Editor KOREY CLARK

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