Health Care Blog
- Posted byon July 1, 2014 at 1:19 PM EDT
Yesterday, for the sixth time since taking office, President Obama joined national, state, and local community leaders, business leaders, grassroots activists, elected officials, and others for an event celebrating Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month at the White House.
With the First Lady by his side, the President spoke about the tremendous progress we have made during the course of his Administration -- from repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" to implementing the Affordable Care Act with important protections for LGBT people -- and restated his commitment to taking executive action on behalf of LGBT workers:
The majority of Fortune 500 companies already have nondiscrimination policies to protect their employees because it’s the right thing to do and because many say it helps to retain and attract the best talent. And I agree. So if Congress won’t act, I will. I have directed my staff to prepare an executive order for my signature that prohibits discrimination by federal contractors on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
- Posted byon June 30, 2014 at 7:05 PM EDT
Today, the Supreme Court ruled on the much-publicized Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. case.
This decision would allow some bosses to withhold contraceptive care from their employees' health coverage based on their own religious beliefs -- which their employees may not share.
At the top of today's press briefing, Press Secretary Josh Earnest delivered a statement about where the President stands on this ruling, noting:
"President Obama believes that women should make personal health care decisions for themselves, rather than their bosses deciding for them."
He went on to state that "today's decision jeopardizes the health of women who are employed by these companies."
You can read a full transcript of the statement and press briefing here.
- Posted byon June 24, 2014 at 6:55 PM EDT
This afternoon, the Vice President ceremonially swore in Sylvia Mathews Burwell as the new Secretary of Health and Human Services.
- Posted byon June 5, 2014 at 2:48 PM EDT
Today, a bipartisan majority of Senators confirmed Sylvia Mathews Burwell as the new Secretary of Health and Human Services. In a statement released this afternoon, President Obama commended the group of Senators and reiterated his confidence in Burwell's leadership.
I applaud the strong, bipartisan majority of Senators who today confirmed Sylvia Mathews Burwell as America’s next Secretary of Health and Human Services. Sylvia is a proven manager who knows how to deliver results, and over her career she has built deep relationships with Democrats and Republicans alike. I’m confident Sylvia’s unparalleled experience will serve her well in her new role as she works to ensure the safety of our food and drug supply, protect our nation from outbreaks or bioterror attacks, keep America at the forefront of medical research, and make sure every American has access to quality, affordable healthcare.
- Posted byon June 2, 2014 at 6:03 PM EDT
How do we begin to address behavioral health issues within Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities compounded with the need for cultural sensitivity and access to resources? This was the crux of a recent dialogue between community organizations and federal officials involved in advancing the behavioral health of the AAPI community.
During last month’s AAPI Behavioral Health Forum, a Vietnamese woman shared her story of cross-generational trauma, stemming from tragedies experienced during the Vietnam War; a third generation Japanese-American woman described her lack of a sense of belonging associated with her schizophrenia; another Japanese-American woman reflected on her family’s need to deny the cause of death when her cousin died by suicide. These stories were a sobering reminder of the challenges associated with the lived experiences of AAPI individuals, families, and communities with mental and/or substance use disorders.
Throughout the day, federal and community experts discussed current efforts to elevate AAPI behavioral health issues in communities across America and advance behavioral health equity. Forum participants assessed the questions, challenges, and opportunities for each of the four issue areas – data, integrated care, workforce development and community engagement. While exploring these issue areas, participants thought critically about possible next steps to build and strengthen efforts to improve AAPI behavioral health and serve the AAPI community in a culturally and linguistically competent manner.
- Posted byon May 29, 2014 at 9:44 AM EDT
Today, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) released a report to the President, Better Health Care and Lower Costs: Accelerating Improvement through Systems Engineering. The report comes at a critical time for the United States and for the health-care system in particular, with millions of Americans recently gaining health-care coverage due to the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
At the same time, the health-care system is challenged by rising costs, which now approach a fifth of the United States’ gross domestic product (GDP). A significant portion of those costs, however, does not produce better health or quality of care. In consultation with a working group including experts from the health and engineering sectors, PCAST, in its new report, identifies a comprehensive set of recommendations to address these cost and quality challenges, including through an interdisciplinary approach known as systems engineering.
Systems engineering has been widely used in other industries, such as manufacturing and aviation, to improve efficiency, reliability, productivity, quality, and safety of systems. It has begun to be used to good effect in health care, but, PCAST finds, the United States would benefit from more widespread adoption.
Among the barriers that limit the spread of systems engineering in health care is the predominant payment system— the fee-for-service method often discourages efficient care. To overcome this challenge, PCAST notes that providers should be paid for value—e.g., patient health-outcomes—rather than the volume of tests or treatments administered.
Systems engineering also depends on the availability of high-quality data that can be used for measuring progress, analyzing current challenges and opportunities, and enabling patients and providers to make more informed decisions.
The Nation has made great strides in encouraging clinicians and health care organizations to adopt electronic health records, although more work is needed to ensure those systems are interoperable and can exchange information. This is particularly challenging for the large percentage of physicians that are a part of small or loosely networked practices, which may have limited resources and capabilities to apply systems methods and tools.
PCAST also finds that the benefits of systems engineering can be realized at the community level and that—since people live the majority of their lives and experience their health outside of traditional health-care settings—engaging public and private community entities in improving the delivery of care and/or promoting health can enhance the quality of care and the health of communities.