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The burden of medical debt falls heavily on those who are chronically ill, uninsured, low income, Black or Hispanic or live in states that have not expanded Medicaid eligibility as allowed under the Affordable Care Act.

The country is awash in medical debt - $195 billion worth at least and affecting tens of millions - and with stories of residents losing homes, savings and credit as a consequence, nearly a dozen states have enacted laws to provide protections for consumers. Read more»

More than 60 professional medical organizations, including the American Medical Association, published a joint statement last month warning of a dire impact of striking down the provision.

A federal lawsuit heard in Texas could upend or even eliminate the preventive care requirement in the Affordable Care Act, as a group is arguing that the requirement is unconstitutional and some preventive health measures violate religious protections. Read more»

More than a dozen major drug manufacturers have scaled back or halted their participation in a federal drug discount program for safety-net providers, which are supposed to pass on the savings to patients with low incomes.

Hospitals and community and rural health clinics that serve low-income patients say drug manufacturers have threatened their financial stability by abandoning a federal drug discount program that saves those health providers millions of dollars a year. Read more»

Reproductive rights advocates fear that tighter abortion restrictions will compound the current crisis in maternal health.

Doctors and reproductive health advocates worry abortion exceptions after 20 weeks to protect the life or health of the woman are so vague or narrow that abortion providers are unlikely to invoke them—especially if they fear they could be charged with a crime. Read more»

More states are extending Medicaid coverage to doula services.

Faced with a crisis in maternal mortality, particularly among women of color, at least 17 states - including Arizona - are considering, planning or implementing policies to provide Medicaid reimbursement for the services of doulas. Read more»

An intrauterine devices, known as an IUD. Some state lawmakers have suggested restricting access to the birth control; many reproductive health advocates fear the overturning of Roe v. Wade would embolden those efforts.

The Supreme Court draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade will further fuel some conservatives’ efforts to limit access to birth control - as Republican lawmakers have begun a push to restrict access to birth control methods they claim are abortifacients. Read more»

States are increasingly looking at ways to get underutilized foreign-trained medical professionals into the health care workforce.

States are eying foreign-trained health professionals as part of a solution to two problems: the growing shortage of health care workers and the worse health outcomes experienced by minority and immigrant communities. Read more»

Staff members consult at Naval Hospital Jacksonville in January. The end of the federal public health emergency will trigger eligibility reevaluations of nearly 78 million Medicaid beneficiaries, which officials and advocates fear could lead to many losing health insurance.

Most of the nation will rejoice when the Biden administration lifts the public health emergency that has been in force since March 2020 - but when that moment comes, it could put many millions of adults and children currently on Medicaid at risk of losing health care coverage. Read more»

A file photo of bodies stored at the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner, October 2016.

The overload at medical examiners’ offices stems from two trends: More bodies arriving at the offices, the result of pandemic-related deaths and also an upward trajectory of homicides, overdoses and traffic-related fatalities - and the country is not producing enough forensic pathologists. Read more»

As the pandemic enters its third year, the ideological divide in statehouses over the pandemic response is unlikely to change.

The divide over the politics of the COVID-19 pandemic continues in states as the crisis grinds toward its third lethal year and hospital systems in every corner of the country are strained - and the divide continues playing out even in how lawmakers conduct business. Read more»

The history of polio suggests that it may be several years before schools across the country mandate a COVID-19 vaccine.

Though COVID-19 has claimed around 830,000 lives in the United States, only two states have added COVID-19 vaccines to the list of immunizations mandated for schoolchildren - the main reason, experts say, is they are wary of opening another front in the wars over mandates. Read more»

Teachers and staff at Des Moines Public Schools wait for a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Officials in many states are urging vaccinations and booster shots as the Omicron variant arrives in the United States.

Despite the new COVID-19 variant that has quickly spread across the globe, there is little appetite in either red or blue states for reimposing lockdowns or mask mandates - a recognition of the public’s exhaustion after 21 months of the coronavirus pandemic. Read more»

A member of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Tucson receives his second vaccine dose during a mobile vaccination clinic on Saturday, March 6. COVID-19 vaccinations cause the body to generate antibodies to fight the disease, but antibody tests to determine whether someone has immunity against the virus do not provide the answers many patients are seeking.

Antibody levels do help health care providers establish whether a patient has immunity against other, more familiar infectious diseases, such as measles and hepatitis A and B - but doctors say our relatively short experience with COVID-19 hasn’t yet provided the same information. Read more»

A new report found that women ages 18 to 44 are more than twice as likely to be without health insurance if they live in a state that has not expanded Medicaid.

In states that have declined to expand Medicaid to all adults with lower incomes, women of childbearing age are more than twice as likely to be without health insurance as those living in expansion states - a disparity that helps explain the United States’ dismal maternal mortality rate. Read more»

Most states and localities closed mass vaccination sites, such as this one at the University of Arizona, months ago, and appear to be taking a wait-and-see attitude about whether the facilities again will be necessary.

Now that the Biden administration has determined that Americans vaccinated against COVID-19 should get booster shots, state health officials say they can avoid a repeat of the chaos that accompanied the first months of vaccinations. Read more»

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