In policy news we find more of the same. Texas again figures prominently, so much so that I have decided to create a new category: Texas news. Texas is an unmitigated perinatal disaster and is an embarrassment to this country, particularly to its medical establishment. But make no mistake, if current trends in law and politics are any indication, women's healthcare in every state will be like Texas.
To wit: a new study through the Commonwealth Fund has shown that one quarter of working age Texas women still lack insurance of any kind. A significant percentage of those who are insured struggle to pay medical bills and admit to having skipped needed care because of cost. Texas did chose not to expand its Medicaid, and this is believed to be one of the causes for these phenomena.
Also in Texas, ordinary standard insurance does not cover abortion. A new bill passing the Texas House will require women to buy supplemental insurance coverage for this procedure. It also increases reporting on complications after abortion and on the incidence of minors receiving the procedure.
Finally in the Texas news, the Texas physician Dr. Brett Giroir, a Pediatrician, has been nominated for assistant Secretary of Health at the Department of Health and Human Services. However, Democratic Senators have delayed his confirmation on concerns that he would not support women's health programs. And they wonder why Texas is in the state it's in.
The Trump administration has cut funding for the Texas Teen Pregnancy and Prevention Program. Now it proposes eliminating funding for all such programs across the country. Moreover the fundamental research for the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Project is situated at Texas A&M University and theses researchers have recently been notified that their funding has been cut.
In Texas, Planned Parenthood has been barred from receiving Medicaid reimbursement. As a result the number of comments coming in to the Center for Medicaid Services (CMS) have doubled from 9,000 per week to 18,000 per week. According to the Center for Public Policy Priorities this will remove healthcare access from 45,000 people.
In the good news department, a bipartisan group of high ranking Senators are trying to strengthen existing law regarding health care. They are recommending that the Federal government continue paying subsidies, and that all Americans enroll in coverage. They also recommend renewal of the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said that he would consider such a bipartisan effort to shore up subsidy payments to insurers to stabilize current insurance markets.
In the medical news, one is seven women experience anxiety or depression in the first year after giving birth. This remains vastly under-diagnosed untreated with only 15% of those affected seeking help. Obstetricians have been alerted to increase screening for these debilitating conditions.
In other concerning news, the team suicide rate among girls has reached a 40 year high. This is according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published this last week in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. As of 2015 it sits at about 5 per 100,000.
Preterm birth has continued to be a significant perinatal problem and one that has been resistant to explanation and treatment. However, new research published in Obstetrics and Gynecology has indicated that sleep disorders may play a role in some cases. Data from over three million birth was studied, with conditions like apnea and insomnia being tied to preterm birth.
New research indicates that risk of stroke is decreasing for men but not women. Stroke risk is related to the incidence of several medical conditions, including obesity, smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol. These conditions are on the rise among women.
Physicians and patients, listen up: Physicians are doing a BAD Job at educating patients about marijuana use in pregnancy. Increasing State legalization has led many to believe marijuana is entirely safe under varied conditions. (Since when do we believe what politicians have to say about science and medical care ? ) This has not been substantiated. According to researchers at the University of Colorado in Denver, the data available is limited, and sometimes flawed. However, there is “ moderate evidence that the use of marijuana in pregnancy is associated with increased risk of reduced fetal growth, lower IQ scores in young children, adverse effects on a child's cognitive functioning and academic ability, an increase in attention problems” There may also be associations with low birth weight and preterm birth. Patients need to be honest with their caregivers, and caregivers have to help patients to meet their needs some other way than to use marijuana.
Stay tuned form more fascinating and important news from the word of Obstetrics and Gynecology, next week, on Medical Monday.