The Pulse

Study: Decline in deaths for some preterm babies

Death rates for extremely premature infants decreased from 2000 to 2011, according to a newly published national study.

The decline “was largely due to fewer babies dying from breathing complications of prematurity,’’ said Dr. Ravi Mangal Patel, lead author of the study, and an assistant professor of pediatrics at Emory University School of Medicine and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

Patel, in this GHN video, discusses the reasons for the decrease in mortality for these infants, and about prematurity in general, which is still a leading contributor to newborn deaths in the United States.

The study results are published in the Jan. 22 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

The video was produced by Emory University.

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Latest snapshot of Georgia exchange enrollees

First-time enrollees, Medicaid-eligible individuals, and an influx of young people.

Healthcare CostThat’s part of the picture that emerges from the data that federal officials released Tuesday about the more than 425,000 Georgians who have signed up for coverage in the health insurance exchange.

The Department of Health and Human Services reported that 90 percent of enrollees in Georgia received financial assistance, or subsidies, to help them afford an exchange health plan.

The report also said 36 percent were under 35 years of age. The high number of young people is important for insurers. Younger adults, who as a group are generally healthy, balance out the companies’ financial risks of covering older people, who are more likely to become ill. full story

School bus driver: I work for the benefits

For the past nine years, Anne Walden has enjoyed her job of driving a school bus through rural areas of McDuffie County.

“I absolutely love it,’’ says Walden, 60. “I love my kids.”

McDuffie County

McDuffie County

But it’s still a job, and Walden is clear about the underlying reason why she does it: health insurance.

“We don’t make any money’’ compared to what other occupations pay, Walden said Monday, noting that her income is $8,800 a year. “Most drivers drive for the benefits.’’

But the health insurance that Walden gets through the state employee and teachers plan would end at the end of the year, if Gov. Nathan Deal’s budget proposal is ultimately approved.

Deal’s budget plan would eliminate health coverage for 11,500 “non-certificated’’ school personnel who work fewer than 30 hours a week, including school bus drivers and cafeteria workers.

The proposal has generated broad concern among lawmakers and health advocates.

And this week, a key teacher advocacy group that made waves in 2014 by backing changes to the State Health Benefit Plan has thrown its support behind preserving the insurance options for the school workers. full story

Shipping proposal outlined on medical cannabis

The legislator championing medical marijuana in Georgia said Monday that he hopes to announce an agreement soon with a manufacturer that aims to ship cannabis oil to residents in the state.

Rep. Allen Peake

Rep. Allen Peake

That process would be facilitated if Georgia passes a bill to offer immunity from prosecution to those families using cannabis oil for medical purposes, said state Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon).

He told reporters Monday that the cannabis product in question contains so little THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, “that it’s considered hemp.’’

Under the plan, he said, families could order the product online and the manufacturer would ship it to their homes. “They’re only sending it to states where immunity is in place.’’

Earlier, Peake had discussed a broader bill that would have allowed some marijuana to be grown in Georgia for the purpose of manufacturing the oil. But Peake backed off that provision in a compromise with Gov. Nathan Deal, who did not support cultivation of cannabis in the state. full story

Commentary: Don’t save unauthorized subsidies

The upcoming U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act exchanges has already unleashed a torrent of speculation and opinion.

Rep. Jason Spencer

Rep. Jason Spencer

A week ago, Georgia State University law professor Erin C. Fuse Brown argued in a Commentary that the court should preserve the insurance subsidies for consumers in states such as Georgia that let the federal government run their exchanges.

Now, in a rebuttal Commentary, state Rep. Jason Spencer (R-Woodbine) says the subsidies for federally run exchanges violate the ACA and should be thrown out by the court.

Spencer, while a staunch opponent of the health law, says its language on subsidies is clear and binding. “Congress stipulated in the ACA that federal tax subsidies would be limited to individuals who purchased health insurance through an ‘[e]xchange established by the State,’ ’’ he writes. “There is no more ambiguity in the word ‘State’ than there is in the meaning of the word ‘is.’ ”

Here’s a link to Spencer’s Commentary.

Georgia Health News welcomes Commentary submissions. If you would like to propose a Commentary piece for Georgia Health News, please email Andy Miller, editor of GHN, at amiller@georgiahealthnews.com

Around the State

Advocates rally for expansion

Advocates for expansion say about 481,000 Georgians fall into the coverage gap, and 44 percent of them are young adults.

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WABE

Savannah: Lead-tainted toys

Department of Homeland Security officials say more than 1,300 toys that could have exposed children to lead were seized by U.S. Customs at the Port of Savannah.

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Associated Press

Newnan: CTCA growth

This month, the CTCA Southeastern began Phase Two of its expansion project, which includes imaging and 66 additional rooms for guest accommodations.

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Newnan Times-Herald

Autism bill moves in Senate

A Senate panel passes a bill that would require private insurers to provide autism treatment coverage for children who are six and younger.

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WABE

Augusta: Hospital McDonald’s

The McDonald’s inside the Children’s Hospital of Georgia is criticized by a national physician organization.

Read the full article:
Augusta Chronicle

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