82 posts categorized "Health Policy"

12/05/2013

First Impressions of the Affordable Care Act Rollout

The rollout has been a bumpy ride to say the least. The website still has its glitches, and the problems are being labeled President Obama’s Hurricane Katrina by many political pundits. In this week’s entry we will try to separate fact from fiction and take an objective view at the law and where we go from here.

The October enrollment numbers were only 20% of predicted targets. More than 106,000 people enrolled, but only 27,000 of those did so by way of the federal website; the vast majority of those that enrolled utilized the state ran exchanges. To put the 106,000 person total in perspective, this is only 1.5% of the anticipated enrollee total at the end of the 2014 period. To bring things closer to home with regards to our local states, Maryland had 1,700 enroll while Pennsylvania enrolled 2,207. These totals are considered low across the board but enrollment numbers seem to be improving with the November enrollment period now concluded.

While these numbers are disconcerting, optimists and supporters of the law stress for us to look at the precedent set by Massachusetts’s model in 2007. The Affordable Care Act relies on young and healthy people (those under 35 years of age) to enroll to offset the cost of those that are older and more prone to illness. If the trends seen in the MA plan stay consistent, these healthy individuals will procrastinate until the last possible second (March 31st deadline) to enroll so as to avoid the financial penalties. Jonathan Gruber, an architect of the Massachusetts plan, advisor to the President on the implementation of the federal system, and proponent of the individual mandate, stresses us to ‘be patient.’

In contrast to the multitude of issues encountered by those enrolling through the federal website, the poster boy for the state ran exchanges appears to have gotten it right. Kentucky enrolled approximately 15,000 people only 21 days after the exchanges opened on October 1st. Governor Steve Beshear heralds their website a success and claims that close to 1,000 Kentuckians enroll every day. The success of Kynect.Ky.gov highlights the advantages of a state-ran exchange and provides a framework for the federal program to glean vital information to ensure its own success.

With the November 30th deadline now past, reports are coming in that healthcare.gov is indeed improved over the debacle that was the October 1st launch, but it is not yet perfect. Concerns are that the very people the ACA relies upon for its success, the young and tech savvy generation, will be turned away if the website does not meet their expectations. This fear has increased the urgency to get the portal working as smoothly as possible, as soon as possible.

As with most laws, the Affordable Care Act is not a perfect law. It has its opponents and it has its obvious flaws. But instead of throwing in the towel, I’d like to see our nation’s leaders work together and find solutions to this law’s problems. Millions of Americans don’t have adequate health insurance and this law was intended to help those people, and those people still need health care now.

Mackenzie F. Blair,  PharmD ’15 Candidate

11/20/2013

Why Don’t You Take Your Medication? Part II

In our previous blog, we delved into how fear and confusion can negatively impact medication adherence. Now we will examine how health beliefs and finances can influence patients and a service we as pharmacists can provide to improve outcomes.

Health Beliefs. A difficult barrier pharmacists must overcome to improve adherence is the health beliefs our patients have towards medications, their disease states, and health care in general. A study examined how health beliefs impacted medication adherence in patients being treated for HIV/AIDs and discovered that those patients who were asymptomatic were more likely to be non-adherent, while those who experienced negative effects from their disease were more likely to be adherent to avoid such negative effects. Pharmacists must stress that even if a patients are feeling well and does not physically feel sick, they must continue to take their medications. This challenge arises with disease states like hypertension or mental illness where the person may feel fine after taking their medication for a while and then discontinue there medications thinking that they are now cured.

Financial Constraints. An estimated 14 million Americans with chronic medical conditions cannot afford their medications. Doctors may not consider the price of a drug when prescribing and as pharmacists, we are at the point of care when a patient must make the difficult decision to pay for this month’s supply of medication or food for their family. Pharmacists must take due diligence to discover whether their patients are adherent as result of financial hardship. It can be a difficult subject to approach, but there are some questions that can be asked to indirectly ascertain this information; examples of such questions include: “Are there circumstances that make it difficult to fill your prescriptions?" or "Are you testing blood glucose less often because you're trying to conserve supplies?" If it is discovered that a patient cannot afford their prescriptions, we as pharmacists could contact the prescribing physician and request a generic alternative or contact the pharmaceutical company for possible discount/assistance programs. Medication adherence is a significant barrier to achieving positive therapeutic outcomes in our patients, but there is a tool that has been developed over the last several years that will make the task of overcoming these barriers much more attainable.

Medication therapy management (MTM) was developed in response to the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003. MTM provides pharmacists the unique opportunity to be the ‘medication expert’ and improve patient adherence, and thus outcomes. With pharmacists now becoming more integral in the health care team, and being able to interact with patents in a more prominent role, we are now in a great position to correct the factors that interfere with a patient being adherent. By using tools like the interview a pharmacist can glean valuable information from their patient and make adjustments when necessary before the patient is potentially harmed. Communication and information gathering are valuable in improving overall outcomes and MTM gives pharmacists the necessary means to not only communicate but do something about it.

It is our role as pharmacists to communicate, educate, and in turn ensure that our patients take their medications as prescribed. We’ve discussed why a patient might not take their medications and how to counter such obstacles to adherence as well as the ever evolving role of MTM in healthcare.

Mackenzie F. Blair, PharmD ‘15

11/13/2013

Why Don’t You Take Your Medication?

It is a question that thousands of pharmacists and health care professionals ask their patients on an almost constant basis; but many times this inquiry falls on deaf ears and the patient remains noncompliant. It is a frustrating reality that approximately 50% of patients are non-adherent to their medication regimens. It is common knowledge that these patients can’t achieve their therapeutic goals if they don’t take their medications as prescribed and adherence is the key mediator between medical practice and patient outcomes. As pharmacists, we should take a closer look at WHY our patients don’t take their medications, and what we can do about it.

Fear:   While modern medicine can save lives and cure disease, the fears many have towards medications can prevent these people from being helped. Fear is a powerful influencer and it can manifest itself in many ways. A patient could be afraid of a startling side effect, the risk of drug addiction, fear of needles, or even the negative stigma that taking a medication has in society as is the case for drugs associated with mental illnesses. Culture can even have an impact if the prescribed medicine is in contradiction to the patient’s religious beliefs.. As pharmacists, it is important for us to interact with patients and assess their attitude towards their therapeutic plan. It is vital to identify fears they may have and help alleviate their anxiety or hesitation. For example, if a patient is frightened of a rare side effect, framing the risk of developing the side effect with real data may reduce the fear.  If the patient has a phobia of needles it might be possible to alter the therapy so that injections or needles can be avoided. While it is unrealistic that we can calm all the fears patients may have, it is possible that with proper communication and education, many of these fears can be minimized.

Confusion and poor health literacy:   "Take two tablets by mouth twice daily." To a trained pharmacist or student like myself, those instructions appear clear and concise, yet a study revealed that nearly half of all people who read them misunderstood them. And with 81% of older adults taking one medication with 29% of them using five or more prescription medications, confusion can easily arise from multiple drug regimens and multiple disease states. It is the pharmacist’s responsibility to limit confusion as much as possible. This can be achieved by writing simple instructions on prescription labels and communicating with the patient in a counseling session. Nothing should be assumed and every aspect of the medication should be addressed with the patient. It should be stressed to the patient that there is no such thing as a stupid question. It is a fact that a poor patient-pharmacist/physician relationship hurts the chances of patients actually taking their medicine as prescribed.

Fear and confusion are only a few of the barriers that pharmacists encounter when trying to improve medication adherence. In the next blog we will examine and discuss health beliefs as a barrier to medication adherence and what we as pharmacists can do to improve outcomes.

Mackenzie F. Blair, PharmD ‘15

11/08/2013

Obtaining Health Insurance that Isn't Understood Using a System that Isn't Working - And the Situation Will Get Worse if there is not Compromise!

By Dr. Daniel A. Hussar, the Remington Professor of Pharmacy at University of the Sciences' Philadelphia College of Pharmacy. He serves as the author and editor of The Pharmacist Activist newsletter (http://www.pharmacistactivist.com) from which this editorial was taken.


The "old" health care system had serious deficiencies. Almost every participant (e.g., pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, physicians, pharmacists) could determine the prices to be charged for products and services and expect to be compensated in the amounts requested. However, there were valid questions as to whether this health-care model was financially sustainable. In addition, there was little or no attention given to assessing the quality of health care provided and the outcomes for patients.

The "new" health care system (i.e., the Affordable Care Act [Obamacare]) that is being implemented has serious deficiencies. The health-care providers who provide services, care, and products for patients have little participation or influence in the determination of the scope and terms of the program or the compensation they will be provided. Instead, government agencies, insurance companies, and organizations such as pharmacy benefit managers are making these decisions. The scope and services of the new system raise valid questions as to whether this health-care model is financially sustainable. In addition, there is inadequate attention given to assuring the quality of health care provided and the outcomes for patients.

The old and new systems are markedly different, yet many of the questions and concerns are very similar. Is progress really being made or have we just replaced one set of problems with other problems of equal or greater importance? I do not defend or advocate the return of the old system. However, the new system is seriously flawed and will collapse as a consequence of the problems and concerns with which it is burdened unless major changes are made. We can and must do better!

Continuing concerns: The current problems that individuals have encountered in attempting to learn more about the health-care benefit options and to choose a particular type of coverage are just the latest of a long series of concerns regarding the parameters and implementation of Obamacare. Indeed, the secrecy surrounding the development and approval of the legislation that has enabled the changes in the health care system was an early indicator of the problems ahead (Please see my editorial, "Health Care Reform - Let's Start Over and Do It Right!" in the January 2010 issue of The Pharmacist Activist).

The current problems have, however, greatly increased the awareness of the public of the challenges that exist. These challenges include, but are not limited to, employers reducing the number of full-time positions and increasing the number of part-time positions; decisions of employers to change health benefit programs for employees and retirees; insurance companies canceling policies; the President making changes in the terms and implementation of the program without accompanying legislative authority; whether individuals can continue to use the same physicians and pharmacies; other terms of the health coverage options; access to needed information using the online network; and the cost of the coverage options.

Positives of Obamacare: The sharp differences of opinion that exist regarding certain provisions of Obamacare have polarized discussions and precluded consideration of areas of agreement and constructive change. I would identify the following as components of the legislation for which I feel there is strong support:

  • The opportunity for many individuals who do not currently have health insurance to obtain such coverage at an affordable cost or, if necessary, have the coverage subsidized.
  • The provision that individuals with pre-existing conditions would be able to obtain health insurance at an affordable cost.
  • The increased age at which young adults are permitted to be included in their parents' health insurance coverage.
I would like to think that a focus on these areas of general agreement could be a starting point for constructive discussion of the issues on which there is disagreement. However, the acrimony and polarization that have resulted from the differing philosophical, ideological, and political positions on these issues, make it difficult to be optimistic that agreement regarding a health care system can be reached.

Is compromise possible?: To date, it has not been possible to reconcile the two markedly different positions regarding Obamacare. Advocates extol the benefits and claim the authority of the legislation that established it. Opponents have such strong concerns that they strive to defund the program and/or repeal the legislation. There is seemingly no hope for compromise. However, this impasse is a "lose-lose" situation for both advocates and opponents, Democrats and Republicans.

Advocates for Obamacare have the position of strength and some feel there is no need for any compromise. But hardly a day goes by without an announcement that a large employer is making substantial changes in its health-care benefits or that an insurance company is canceling thousands of policies. Does anyone really think that these changes will be of greater benefit for employees and/or individual policy holders? Of course not! The employers and insurance companies are making these changes to protect their own interests.

The implementation of the early phases of Obamacare has revealed serious conceptual and operational flaws and limitations. And consumers are not yet even close to learning the options regarding health care providers and services and the cost of the insurance coverage. In my opinion, there will be additional problems that will be worse than the ones that are recognized now. The problems and challenges may be of a magnitude that the program will fail. Advocates for the program must be willing to compromise.

Opponents of Obamacare must also be willing to compromise. Their criticisms of the program have not been accompanied by suggested revisions or recommendations of viable alternatives. Their position would maintain the present system, and that should no longer be considered acceptable. There is an important need for progressive changes in the provision of health care services and insurance, and compromise will be essential for the attainment of this goal.

I would like to think that there are legislators who have the personal character to rise above partisan politics and provide bipartisan leadership for the Congress and Administration in forging a compromise on these issues. To not do so risks the failure of Obamacare and the possible development of alternative health care systems and insurance coverage that are even more problematic and divisive.

Where are the health care providers?: Health care services and insurance coverage for such are of the greatest importance for the recipients of these services. But these issues are also of great importance for the providers of health care services (e.g., pharmacists, physicians, nurses). To what extent have health care providers and our professional organizations been involved in the development and implementation of Obamacare, as well as active participants in the discussion/debate regarding the benefits and deficiencies of the program? Our involvement and influence have been limited at best. Some would suggest nonexistent or ineffective.

Our organizations of health professionals must do more! We are in the best position to identify the parameters of a program that would assure the effectiveness, safety, and quality of health care. We can work effectively with those with administrative and financial expertise in developing those components of the program. However, experience has demonstrated that when health professionals are not involved and/or effective in the development of health care benefit programs, important decisions are made by others and we must cope with the consequences.

If the current impasse among our legislators continues and a compromise is not reached, there could be an even greater opportunity for our organizations of health professionals to fill the void with progressive recommendations.

Even if the legislators do reach a compromise, it is essential that our organizations become more involved, both independently and in collaboration. To address just one of the important issues, I recommend that the American Pharmacists Association and the American Medical Association work together to introduce and seek support for a provision that patients have freedom of choice in selecting their physicians and pharmacies in health care programs that are funded by the government. I am certain that there would be strong public support for this recommendation.

10/31/2013

Mayes Students 'Already Know More About ACA than Most Docs'

MetrauxLed by Stephen Metraux PhD, interim director of the Health Policy Program, masters and doctoral students in the Department of Health Policy and Public Health are examining the Patient Protection and ACA as it evolves in real time. Here's what he has to say about the course:

Last summer, the faculty the Department of Health Policy and Public Health at University of the Sciences decided to implement a seminar course devoted to the Affordable Care Act for the Fall 2013 semester.  We realized with the exchanges set to come online in October, this would be a unique opportunity to observe and assess policy as it unfolded, and that it would likely entail a wild, unpredictable ride.  As the person who first pitched this idea, I got to facilitate the class.

The course consists of three touch points – studying the nuts and bolts of the ACA based on reading about the act and its implementation; a series of speakers who would come into the class and give in-depth presentations  related to specific aspects of the ACA; and taking time each class to discuss the week’s events related to the ACA.  Taken together, the class has been exciting, interesting and informative. 

The speakers so far have included community perspectives from hospitals, physicians and public health providers, as well as University faculty talking about the economics, political science and occupational therapy perspectives of the ACA.  The nine students enrolled in the class have each taken one of the nine titles (i.e., sections) of the original ACA and have delved into the details.  And finally, the government shutdown, the debacle of healthcare.gov, and the individual policy cancellations have been the backdrop behind a greater awareness and a greater understanding of the headlines.

Based on this, students from the class will, in the upcoming days, provide brief entries for this blog related to specific ACA-related topics upon which they are focusing.  The first entries in this series came from Tom Godfrey, a physician and PhD Health Policy student:


My contribution to this is a top-ten list of general themes about the ACA that have become clear through this course. 

10. To focus on the individual mandate is to miss 90 percent of the ACA.
  9. If you are sick and poor before the ACA you will likely remain sick and poor after the ACA.
  8. The ACA is sitting on the shoulders of over a century of health care reform efforts.
  7. It is possible to have too little income to benefit from the ACA.
  6. Public health never gets the money it needs.
  5. The ACA just ain’t socialized medicine in any form.
  4. To work, the ACA must hit the health care trifecta: simultaneously expanded coverage, improved quality, and reduced costs.
  3. Opponents hate the ACA; proponents see it as a set of necessary compromises.
  2. No one knows whether and how the ACA will work.

[insert drum roll…]

  1. Students in the class already know more about the ACA than most physicians.

Stay tuned.


10/28/2013

Mission Impossible: How to tell if your patients are taking their medications

As a pharmacy student, I’ve been drilled rigorously that medication adherence is a vital cornerstone to effectively treating patients and achieving positive clinical outcomes. Yet with so much emphasis dedicated to ensuring that patients are taking their medications, it is estimated that approximately 20-50% of patients are non-adherent. With such high numbers of patients not adhering, it is crucial that pharmacists find tools and strategies to monitor and improve adherence.

The simplest way to find out if a patient is taking a medication is to ask.  There is a simple 4 question assessment to better gauge whether or not patients take their medications. This scale, the Morisky scale, allows for pharmacists to not only interact with their patients, but also allows him to ‘score’ the interaction and get a better idea of their patient’s compliance. A study using the scale observed that if a patient was found to be compliant, there was a 93% chance that they were indeed compliant (high sensitivity). But the study does lack specificity as indicated by the finding that if a patient was found to be non-compliant, there was a 53% chance that that was indeed the case. The Morisky scale is a great tool to use when interviewing a patient, but again, the low specificity leaves a level of ambiguity.

A more direct, but still primitive method of determining patient compliance is a pill count. While the method is simple, the accuracy of the information gathered is directly dependent on the patient.  Unfortunately, patients could manipulate the number of pills in the vial and you still aren’t certain whether the medication is being taking as directed.  However, one study showed that unannounced pill counts by phone improved compliance in AIDs patients and this method could feasibly be applied to other realms of practice.  While pill counts are an acceptable first line of defense against non-compliance, more advance methods are available.  

With the level of automation in pharmacy nowadays, digital records of refill and prescription pick-ups are simple to compile and interpret. A pharmacist can easily access a patient’s records and observe their refill habits.  It can be determined if the patient is picking up their medications on time and in line with when their quantities should be depleted if the drug is being taken as directed. But as with the pill count, the use of a pharmacy record is limited. The patient could be using multiple pharmacies and the patient’s actual habits cannot be assessed by simply looking at when they come in for a refill. Records are important, but what if a doctor or pharmacist could actually verify the exact time when their patient takes their medication?

The future of medication adherence monitoring could come in the shape of a digital pill. A transmitter the size of a grain of sand can be embedded inside a pill which then can send a text, email, or  tweet to the patient/health care provider when it was taken. This technology could do wonders for patients with high risk disease states like cancer or HIV. While this sounds like science fiction, Proteus Digital Health claims that this incredible technology will be available to
drug companies within the next three years.  

While it seems like a daunting task at times, medication adherence monitoring is an important aspect of what we do as pharmacists. By utilizing the tools discussed, we should be able to improve ompliance and make a positive impact on patient outcomes.

Mackenzie F. Blair, PharmD '15

10/18/2013

The Government Shutdown from a Pharmacy Student's Perspective

With the government shutdown finally being resolved this Thursday, the affect it has had on the American public has taken the form of closed National Parks and a bickering Congress. But the impact of the shutdown goes far beyond what the media and pundits are discussing in their daily rundowns. As healthcare professionals, there are serious ramifications that endangered the public health and the ability of us to treat patients who desperately need care.

While the shutdown didn’t interrupt vital services provided by Medicare, Medicaid, and Veterans Affairs, agencies like the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Food  and Drug Administration (FDA) were forced to furlough the majority of their employees. The FDA had been forced to furlough 60% of their inspectors which  prevented the FDA from effectively being able to inspect the companies that prepare the food we eat every day. The CDC was unable to monitor outbreaks of disease in the country and even led to 300 people falling ill with salmonella. In addition to  hamstringing the ability of government agencies to protect citizens from disease and contaminated food, the government shutdown also had a negative impact on how clinical trials were being conducted. 

With so much vital research being funded by government grants, and overseen by government agencies, the country’s medical researchers took a serious blow. The National Institute of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland was being described as a ghost town with countless experiments that relied on live animals and cell lines being put in jeopardy after 73% of its staff were furloughed. With the government shutdown, NIH scientists were not permitted to work and were only given 4 hours to mothball their laboratories at the beginning of the shutdown. From October 1st to the end of the shutdown this Thursday, only 12 patients with extreme circumstances were permitted to enter clinical trials at NIH. A program that accepted hundreds of patients a week was being forced to turn those people away. One such patient who was turned away was Michelle Langbehn. Diagnosed with a rare cancer, Michelle’s only hope for treatment was a study being conducted by NIH; but with the shutdown, NIH simply could not afford to start new trials or support the addition of new patients.

In addition to NIH, college research and academia were also affected. The impact was so great that the University of Michigan created a Q&A page for their researchers which now states that everything is back up and running as of October 17th. Visitors to the vital resource PubMed were greeted by this: “PubMed is open, however it is being maintained with minimal staffing due to the lapse in government funding. Information will be updated to the extent possible, and the agency will attempt to respond to urgent operational inquiries.” PubMed is a resource that is used by thousands of healthcare professionals and students and its limited capacities, as caused by the shutdown, could have very well negatively influenced a pharmacy student’s education or more importantly a clinical decision.

With the shutdown finally over and the Nation’s leaders continuing to point fingers of blame as the media attempts to assign winners and losers in the battle that raged on Capitol Hill, what seems to be lost in all the rhetoric is that patients were denied treatment and researchers were being prevented from discovering tomorrow’s cures. The shutdown might be over for now, but its impact on our public health and medical fields could be felt for years to come.

Mackenzie F. Blair, PharmD '15

10/10/2013

The Pennsylvania Insurance Marketplace

In our last blog, we discussed the state-run exchange operating in Maryland.  In contrast, Pennsylvania, home to some 1.3 million uninsured, is letting the federal government run the exchange.    Back in 2011, it seemed as though PA would be taking the same approach as Maryland by developing its own insurance exchange system.  In 2012, they even went as far as developing a  conceptual draft for a state-run exchange and went even further by putting forth a request for quotations to implement such an exchange.   However, just before the decision to run a state-based exchange was to be filed with the federal government, Gov. Tom Corbett announced that it would be irresponsible to “put Pennsylvanians on the hook for an unknown amount of money to operate a system under rules that have not been fully written.”   As such, PA residents in need of health insurance must use the federal marketplace.    

Uninsured Pennsylvania residents are able to purchase health insurance through Insurance Market place at www.healthcare.gov.   Navigating through the federal marketplace, a family of 4 making $50,000 a year and living in Philadelphia will be able to purchase a Silver level plan for $9,216 annually.   With the appropriate tax credits, the same Silver plan premium becomes $3,365, for a tax-credit savings of $5,851.  The same family could choose a lower-level Bronze plan for only $1,446 annually, still taking into account the $5K+ tax credit.  Taking this lower level plan might save money in premiums, but is likely to result in higher out-of-pocket costs.   For a calculator to help figure out the costs without registering through the Market Place, see here.

 No matter, by January 1st, 2014, all citizens will be required to maintain health coverage in some fashion – if not a penalty will be levied.  For 2014, the penalty will be 1% of income to a maximum of $95 and $47.50 per uninsured adult and child, respectively.   By 2016, these penalties will rise to 2.5% of income or a maximum of $675 per adult ($347.50 per child).  

During its first week of operation, the website users have experienced trouble registering.  The troubles were largely due to high traffic and site overload – a statement in-and-of-itself that Americans are looking for a better way to obtain health insurance.  Once these glitches are resolved, we will get a chance to really see how America is taking to the new age of healthcare
purchasing.

10/04/2013

The Maryland Health Connection is Coming to an Insurance Plan Near You

While many states chose not to act after the passage of the Affordable Care Act to see if the  legislation would get the Supreme Court’s seal of approval, Maryland jumped into action.  Being one of the first 6 states to have their insurance exchanges approved by the federal government, Maryland should have been more than ready for the October 1st deadline that passed this Tuesday.  Spearheaded by Governor Martin O’Malley, Maryland opted to assume the responsibility of operating a state-run system versus a federally managed  exchange. While Maryland chose to operate their own exchange, states run by more politically conservative legislatures have generally opted to let the federal government operate their state exchanges.  State-run exchanges allow for more tailored programs to address the needs of individual states and those people that reside in them, but put the burden of running the program on the state rather than the federal government.   

Branded as the Maryland Health Connection, the Maryland exchange is expected to provide approximately 150,000 of Maryland’s 770,000 uninsured citizens and save the state $850 million over a 10 year period. Maryland’s exchange is governed by a nine member board composed of both experts and representatives for those who will be covered by the exchanges. Maryland Health Connection gives purchasers the ability to compare approximately 45 plans from six different carriers and determine their eligibility for financial assistance to lessen the monthly cost of having insurance. Maryland even opted to expand their Medicaid coverage. Marylanders living at, or slightly above, the poverty line  will be automatically enrolled in the program, and at no cost.  To enroll an individual, a family or a business, one can go to Maryland Health Connection and follow the prompts as instructed.

While the websites were intended to streamline the process and limit confusion, initial reports are coming in that there are glitches in the websites that have hindered peoples’ attempts to enroll; Maryland’s exchange website experienced ‘technical difficulties’ opening day as reported by the Baltimore Sun. Other obstacles include lack of education regarding the law. One such account was documented by the Huffington Post about a Hagerstown, Maryland man, Joseph Kriner, who didn’t know what he was required to bring to enroll himself and his two granddaughters. Armed with only pictures of his family and the wish to get his granddaughters medical attention, he was told to return with the proper documentation. The story of Mr. Kriner is a somber one, but it brings to light the kind of conditions many Americans find themselves in from day-to-day. These people need help and it is the goal of the Affordable Healthcare Act to make quality healthcare available to those who could otherwise not afford it. While the law has its flaws, and the websites are not currently working optimally, it is difficult to deny that this is indeed a step in the right direction.

In future posts we will be examining Pennsylvania’s federally-run exchange program and gauge the impact the opening of the exchanges has had thus far.

Mackenzie F. Blair, PharmD  ’15

10/02/2013

Dean of Mayes College Weighs In on Affordable Care Act

APeterson_250x350Andrew Peterson PharmD, PhD, John Wyeth Dean of Mayes College of Healthcare Business and Policy, recently published an article titled, "Healthcare Exchanges Open for Business" in the Star Life Sciences Medical Monitor.

As of Oct 1, 2013, many U.S. citizens will be able to purchase health insurance through an online marketplace called the Healthcare Exchange. Purchasing insurance through this mechanism is not available to employees who choose to receive insurance through their employer, or citizens who receive Medicare or Medicaid. 

Click here to read the entire article...

As of today, Oct 1st, 2013, many US citizens will be able to purchase health insurance through an online marketplace called the Healthcare Exchange. Purchasing insurance through this mechanism is not available to employees who choose to receive insurance through their employer, or citizens who receive Medicare or Medicaid. - See more at: http://www.starlifebrands.com/healthcare-exchanges-open-for-business/#sthash.6jehUNdO.dpuf
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