Weekly Dose of Health News

In this week’s summary: the latest developments in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, details on a host of new studies and reports, and medical experts are eyeing the eradication of a historically debilitating disease. That, and much more in today’s dose of health news!

Affordable Care Act

USA Today reports that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) plans to delay a piece of the Affordable Care Act designed to help small businesses shop for insurance policies, citing the need for additional time to prepare. The Small Business Health Options Program, or SHOP, is supposed to provide small employers with an insurance marketplace that offers multiple plan options starting in 2014. But HHS has proposed that for the first year, businesses that use the state exchanges or exchanges run by the federal government will be able to offer only one plan to their workers, rather than pick from a range of options (Kennedy, 4/1).

The AmericanAcademy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued a policy brief this week that analyzes the Affordable Care Act’s impact on children and their ability to access health insurance. The policy brief, which was published in the journal Pediatrics, finds that the expansion of state Medicaid programs under the Affordable Care Act will boost the proportion of children who are eligible to receive health benefits.

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is demonstrating a willingness to let some states steer new Medicaid funding to private coverage in the individual insurance marketplaces as a way  to meet the coverage goals of the Affordable Care Act.  In guidance issued late last week, the CMS indicated that it will consider granting a “limited number” of state waivers for demonstration that test what happens when states give Medicaid enrollees the option of taking a subsidy to buy a private plan, according. The CMS said that states asking for a demonstration waiver would have to give enrollees the option of at least two plans in the insurance exchange and must coordinate wrap-around benefits and cost-sharing adjustments.


Reports & Studies

The New York Times reports on a new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that shows that one in five high school age boys in the United States and 11 percent of school-age children over all have received a medical diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The figures showed that an estimated 6.4 million children ages 4 through 17 had received an A.D.H.D. diagnosis at some point in their lives, a 16 percent increase since 2007 and a 53 percent rise in the past decade (Schwarz and Cohen, 3/31).

NPR profiles the rise of stroke among younger adults.  The story reveals that most people, including medical professionals, think of a stroke as something that happens to old people. But the rate is increasing among those in their 50s, 40s and even younger (Knox, 4/1).

Newsmedical reports that new research in the American Heart Association Journal Circulation shows that adolescents’ health behaviors increase their chances of heart disease as adults.  One of the many findings was one-third of adolescents had total cholesterol levels in intermediate or poor ranges.


Polio Eradication

USA Today reports that Health authorities are finalizing a plan to end most cases of polio by late next year and eradicate the disease by 2018. Currently polio is still an epidemic in Pakistan, Nigeria and Afghanistan.