During the coronavirus pandemic, more Americans have been visiting emergency rooms for overdoses, suicide attempts, and domestic abuse, according to a study published Wednesday.
A study of almost 190 million U.S. emergency department (ED) visits found that “visit rates for mental health conditions, suicide attempts, all drug and opioid overdoses, intimate partner violence, and child abuse and neglect were higher in mid-March through October 2020 […] compared with the same period in 2019.”
The report released by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) says its findings suggest that priorities for ED care and use shifted due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on public health. This shift, the study says, underscores “mental health, substance use, and violence risk screening and prevention needs during public health crises.”
The study states that the pandemic and the lockdown measures first implemented in March 2020, as well as the social and economic issues made worse by both, “may affect mental health, suicidal behavior, substance use, and violence.”
Throughout the pandemic, a litany of reports and studies have found that, outside the virus, the pandemic is wreaking havoc on Americans’ health because of the variety of implications stemming from being cooped up at home for long periods of time without much, if any, in-person socializing.
For instance, back in October, an Ohio county’s coroner’s office reported a 73.4% surge in overdose deaths during the first six months of last year, with fentanyl comprising the lion’s share of those deaths.
You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.
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Elizabeth Warren Acknowledges Unintended Consequences of Obamacare
Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a longtime supporter of the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, is now acknowledging the unintended consequences of the healthcare legislation, particularly its impact on industry consolidation and rising healthcare prices.
Warren, who has been a vocal proponent of Obamacare, has recently had what the Wall Street Journal reported as an “epiphany” regarding the consequences of the healthcare law. In a letter addressed to the Health and Human Services Department inspector general, Warren, along with Senator Mike Braun of Indiana, expressed concerns about vertically-integrated healthcare companies potentially increasing prescription drug costs and evading federal regulations.
According to reports from Fox News, the bipartisan letter highlighted issues with the nation’s largest health insurers allegedly bypassing Obamacare’s medical loss ratio (MLR). According to Warren, these insurers, through vertical integration, have manipulated the system, leading to “sky-high prescription drug costs and excessive corporate profits.”
The senators detailed how conglomerates, like UnitedHealth Group, with ownership across various healthcare sectors, could inflate medical payments to pharmacies and, by realizing those payments on the pharmacy side, appear to comply with MLR requirements while retaining more profits.
Moreover, despite the Democrats’ argument that the MLR would benefit patients, it has incentivized insurers to merge with or acquire pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), retail and specialty pharmacies, and healthcare providers. This, in turn, has made healthcare spending less transparent, as insurers can allegedly shift profits to their affiliates by increasing reimbursements.
Warren, who has consistently voted against Obamacare repeal efforts, notably advocated for a “Medicare for All” proposal during her 2020 presidential campaign. Despite her prior support for the healthcare law, Warren’s recent concerns about its unintended consequences have raised questions about the long-term effects of Obamacare and its impact on the healthcare industry.
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