Tomorrow on Morning Edition, you can catch my story about Rhode Island's fledgling prescription drug monitoring program. It's a program that's supposed to spot troubling trends in prescription drug misuse. And as you might know, there's plenty of trouble to spot in Rhode Island, where prescription drug overdose death rates have soared along with rates of addiction to narcotic painkillers.
Next week is the American Medical Association's annual meeting in Chicago. It's the big deal event for the nation's physicians, residents, and medical students, where, in addition to the speeches and educational sessions, delegates from every state and specialty organizations consider new health policies to adopt. The result is a kind of physician consensus on emerging health issues, and people tend to pay attention.
As far as I can tell from the Rhode Island General Assembly's online legislation tracker, not a single bill dealing with reducing firearm violence has made it out of committee. Most have been recommended "held for further study," a kind of legislative purgatory, although some bills could be revived at the last minute.
Want a quick read on how we're feeling here in the Ocean State? Check the gauges on rihealthcarematters.org. It's a new web site from the Hospital Association of Rhode Island, with collaboration from local hospitals and the RI Dept. of Health. The site taps a range of federal and local data sources (like the US census) calculate residents' health, as measured by a variety of indicators - 100 in all.
AS220, the downtown arts organization, and the Roots Cafe are hosting three public panel discussions about health care in Rhode Island. And one of them features someone you might know from such illustrious places as... this blog! My predecessor here at RIPR, the delightful Megan Hall, is one of the panelists! Events take place at 5:30 pm on April 24, May 1, and May 8 at AS220 Cafe, 115 Empire Street, in Providence.
CharterCARE, the umbrella organization for Our Lady of Fatima and Roger Williams hospitals, has announced its intent to partner with Prospect Medical Holdings, a for-profit health care firm based in California. The deal is in its infancy. But it's the fourth proposed hospital merger/acquisition under Rhode Islands Hospital Conversions Act. And it's yet another sign of the shaky financial ground on which many of the state's hospitals now find themselves.
Under the Affordable Care Act, health insurers will be able to charge smokers up to 50% more than non-smokers for health insurance. Fair or not, a Politico article points out how difficult that policy might be to enforce - and not simply because smokers could lie. For instance: