Nearly 1 million low-income working parents in 15 states have lost Medicaid coverage since the advent of welfare reform in 1996, according to a report released last week by Families USA, a Washington-based healthcare consumer group. "Most parents moving from welfare to work are in jobs that provide no health coverage but are losing their Medicaid lifeline," said Ron Pollack, the group's executive director. Texas, which has the highest uninsured rate of nonelderly residents--51%--saw the biggest drop in Medicaid enrollment, a 30% decline during the past two years.
A new study shows that government officials often fail to provide Medicaid beneficiaries with the proper amount of information that they need to select appropriate managed-care plans and work with those plans once they join. Medicaid beneficiaries "need to understand managed care, its rules and how to advocate effectively for needed care for themselves and family members," said Karen Davis, who is president of the New York-based Commonwealth Fund, which conducted the Medicaid study.
A separate survey found that more than half of all Americans say they know someone who lacks health insurance. The survey, by the Kaiser Family Foundation and The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, also found that eight of 10 Americans say that healthcare should be provided equally to everyone, but those surveyed were unsure about how to solve the uninsured problem.
More than half of insured Americans younger than 65 reported having a problem with their health plan in the past year, according to a survey by Kaiser Family Foundation and Consumers Union. The most frequent problem, cited by 32% of those with complaints, was a delay in or denial of covered benefits. But 83% of the 2,500 respondents said their recent experiences with health plans were positive.
Hidden video cameras at an Atlanta hospital helped diagnose 23 mothers with an illness characterized by making their children sick to draw attention to themselves, according to a study in the June issue of Pediatrics. To evaluate suspected cases of Munchausen's syndrome by proxy, researchers at 165-bed Scottish Rite Children's Medical Center performed covert video surveillance of 41 patients between 1993 and 1997. The mothers smothered their children, induced vomiting and altered their medication, among other methods. Without video surveillance capabilities, most hospitals aren't in a position to diagnose or prove suspected cases of Munchausen, the study said.