Self-Interested Altruism: Impacting Health Through Social Determinants

Social determinants of health have an outsized impact on the health of vulnerable populations. Access to quality housing, nutrition, and transportation can greatly improve communities’ health, but it can be difficult to sell to investors because these determinants are in effect public goods, and not limited to those who pay for them. But healthcare economists hope they can use the self interest of community health stakeholders to improve these determinants. During the North Dallas Chamber of Commerce Healthcare Conference, economist Len Nichols of George Mason University shared his research that details how to get self-interested healthcare systems to collaborate to… Full Story

Texas Drops to 37 in Nationwide Health Rankings, Worst Insured Rate and Increased Diabetes to Blame

Texas continued its slide in United Health Foundation’s 2018 “America’s Health Rankings Annual Report,” where it went from 33rd in the nation in 2016 to 37th in 2018. On the brighter side, the report found that high school graduation increased, cancer and drug deaths decreased, smoking rates went down while the number of primary care physicians increased. But the worst insured rate in the nation and increases in diabetes rates, physical activity, cardiovascular deaths and mental distress were enough to bump Texas down a few spots. The report measures states’ health via 35 measures across five categories: behaviors, community and… Full Story

Dealing with Prescription Drug Abuse in the Workplace

As opioid use continues to plague the country, employers are looking for ways to reduce addiction, missed work, and safety issues caused by addiction to highly addictive painkillers. Bonnie Merz is a Dallas-based Senior Claims Consultant at Holmes Murphy, and she advises employers about how to best manage risk in response to drug abuse. The healthcare industry is particularly vulnerable to this problem, as a Hazeldon Betty Ford study shows that Health Care Providers are more likely than the general public to abuse opioids. Starting in the 1840s when surgeons would abuse their own anesthesia for “ether frolics,” today 10 to 15 percent… Full Story

DFW Hospital Council Foundation to Aid Mental Health Shortfalls with Grant

The Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council Foundation will receive a Community Mental Health Grant from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. The grant will support the Foundation’s work through the North Texas Community Health Collaborative and provide mental health first aid training to 12 rural North Texas counties, including Ellis, Erath, Grayson, Hood, Hunt, Johnson, Kaufman, Navarro, Parker, Rockwall, Somervell and Wise counties. According to a Behavioral Health Community Needs Assessment Report released by the Community Health Collaborative earlier this year, rural North Texas counties have higher rates of behavioral health hospital visits than urban or suburban counties. Many of them… Full Story

The Impact of Healthcare Navigator Funding Cuts in Texas

The state of Texas has 4.8 million adults who don’t have health insurance, or about 17.3 percent of the population. That ranks the state dead last in the country in insured adults, according to Community Services. As a part of the Affordable Healthcare Act, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services awards grants to organizations called navigators, who help uninsured Americans work through the healthcare exchanges in each state. But since 2013, the funds for those navigators have decreased by more than 80 percent in Texas, which also voted not to expand medicare. In 2013, CMS awarded more than $10… Full Story

Dallas Physician Aims to Decrease the Spread of HIV Infection With Saturday PrEP Clinic

A physician whose involvement in fighting HIV infection stretches back to the late-‘80s and early-90s AIDS crisis is opening a Saturday PrEP clinic, hoping to continue to curtail the spread of HIV. Dr. Steven Pounders is opening the clinic on Sept. 8. It will provide lab testing and follow ups for patients interested in getting on PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), a new prevention approach with the drug Truvada that Pounders says reduces the risk of obtaining HIV infection by as much as 90 percent. “We’ve been looking for ways to try to encourage more and more people to take it,” Pounders… Full Story

Texas Rates Poorly In New Child Well-being Study

Texas rated eighth-worst among the 50 states when it came to overall child well-being in a new study by the nonprofit Annie E. Casey Foundation, which focuses on improving well-being for kids. This might feel like a repeat to the readers of this site—I covered a WalletHub report in April that had the Lone Star State third-to-last. That study put a greater focus on health-specific factors, all the way down to things like sugar-sweetened beverage consumption. For this one, the Annie E. Casey Foundation took a broader approach, looking at 16 measures across economic well-being, education, health, and family and… Full Story

Dallas County Logs A First Positive West Nile Virus Test In Mosquito Samples

Dallas County Health and Human Services says a mosquito trap in the 75062 zip code in Irving has tested positive for West Nile Virus. The trap was collected on May 29. Texas doesn’t have any confirmed human cases of West Nile yet this season, but as DCHHS points out, those often hit in the weeks after the first infected mosquitoes are identified. “DCHHS is reminding medical providers to be alert for cases of WNV disease, and to send laboratory testing in all patients with clinically compatible symptoms,” reads an advisory about the discovery.

Texas Joins Five Other States In Suing OxyContin-Maker Purdue Pharma

Texas is one of six states to say Wednesday that it’s suing drug-making giant Purdue Pharma over its role in fueling the opioid crisis. Attorney General Ken Paxton announced his office is joining five other AGs, who also announced intentions Wednesday to go after the OxyContin-maker with similar lawsuits. Paxton’s office alleges that the Connecticut-based pharmaceutical company violated the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act for using deceptive marketing tactics while it knew the dangers of opioid addiction. “As Purdue got rich from sales of its opioids, Texans and others across the nation were swept up in a public health crisis… Full Story

When it Comes to Mortality and Health Insurance Rates, A Racial and Ethnic Divide Remains Prominent in Dallas County

In Dallas County, racial and ethnic disparities remain prominent in areas like maternal mortality and the ability to withstand chronic diseases, even as the disparities among those without health insurance have tightened in recent years. Those are a few takeaways from the Dallas Economic Opportunity Assessment, a new report commissioned by the Communities Foundation of Texas (CFT) and conducted by the Austin-based Center for Public Policy Priorities (CPPP). The groups convened Tuesday morning at CFT to go through the findings at an event featuring comments by Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins. The day revolved around… Full Story