National Public Radio (NPR) features a fellowship program at George Washington University (GWU) in which medical residents learn about how the U.S. healthcare system works. The three-week work program exposes residents to lectures from policy experts in and around the nation’s capital, provides field trips to Capitol Hill, the Supreme Court, related health agencies, even a tour of a Community Health Center (Unity Health Care). All this so residents can better understand the direct link between public policy and public health.
“Things such as public health were recognized with a one credit course in a curriculum that everyone thought was terrible, partly because it was and partly because they discounted it as being important,” explained Fitzhugh Mullan, MD, a pediatrician and GW professor, told reporter Julie Rovner. “The notion of engaging with public policy or being concerned with the state of future of [healthcare] service delivery in the U.S. was not remotely part of our training.”
For more you can view the article, “For Doctors-In-Training, A Dose of Health Policy Helps the Medicine Go Down.”
How state policies affect access to treatment for addiction was recently the focus of the Los Angeles Times. Reporter Noam Levey reports how thousands of poor patients are languishing on waiting lists for recovery programs or are unable to get medicine to combat addiction because they can’t afford prescriptions in states that opted out of the Medicaid expansion. For example, Missouri, a state with the 16th highest rate of opioid overdose deaths in 2014, is scrambling to fund addiction recovery programs from federal grants or state tax revenues after staunch opposition to the Affordable Care Act.
Levey explains that “without the steady funding that health insurance like Medicaid provides, addiction programs across the country were frequently overwhelmed, especially as the current epidemic intensified.” As a remedy Congress is now preparing legislation that aims to strengthen federal support for addiction treatment efforts around the country, expand prescription drug monitoring programs and expand the availability of naloxone, a drug used to reverse overdoses.
Last but not least The Atlantic looks at access to care and the workings of a Community Health Center in rural Ajo, Arizona, where the nearest hospital is 100 miles away. Reporter Deborah Fallows visited Desert Senita Community Health Center , which is located in a former dormitory of workers at a copper mine which shut down in 1985. She chronicles the health center’s efforts to address health issues in the community, such as obesity, drugs and violence, and encourage residents to help take charge and manage their health.
Fallows writes, “Distance matters for what most of us think of as routine care. Jane Canon is a registered nurse who has been at the clinic for 16 years and is also its manager for quality improvement and also for outreach to the community and beyond. She told me that since there is no way to get prenatal care in Ajo, many pregnant women choose to put off those examinations and checkups for a while. And many decamp to Tucson or Phoenix a few weeks before their due date.”
Read the article. “Finding Health Care in the Desert,” at The Atlantic.