5 Things to Read on Health Care Access

This week’s stories include potential policy changes from the Trump administration, why prisons are championing telehealth, and more.

Inmates see specialists on a video screen

Prisons across the U.S. are using telehealth to make sure inmates get the care they need from specialists without the complicated transports involved in making a physical doctor visit. Virtual visits are common when inmates need to see a psychiatrist or cardiologist, among other specialties. “Initially we implemented [telehealth] for the efficiency part, to avoid hours of transport,” one doctor told NPR. “But what we’ve learned over time is that it really improves clinical care.”

4 million more people lack health insurance

About 15.5 percent of American adults lack health insurance, up about 3 percentage points from this time in 2016, according to a new report from the Commonwealth Fund, a foundation that promotes health care access and quality. That’s about 4 million more people who don’t have coverage. Read more from Axios.

Medicaid coverage greatly increases access to care

New research from America’s Health Insurance Plans demonstrates the value Medicaid coverage brings to its more than 75 million enrollees. For instance, adult Medicaid enrollees are five times more likely to have a consistent health care source and four times more likely to get preventive care services than the uninsured.

Short-term health plans ‘offer less insurance protection’

A proposed policy from the Trump administration would allow insurers to sell limited duration health plans — which aren’t subject to ACA coverage rules — for 364 days, up from the current three-month window. Vox breaks down a Kaiser Family Foundation report showing those plans tend to not cover substance abuse treatment, prescription drugs and maternity care.

Health care protections for transgender people may be rolled back

In 2016, the Obama administration prohibited health care entities like doctors, insurance companies and hospitals from discriminating against transgender people. The Department of Health and Human Services now says it must change the rule — which stemmed from gender discrimination protections in the Affordable Care Act — because a federal judge in Texas ruled parts of it were unlawful. Read more from The New York Times.

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