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Bishops urge Congress to remedy reform law
In a May 20 letter to Congress, the chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities called on Congress to remedy what he characterized asthe abortion and conscience flaws in the Patient Protection and Affordable Act (PPACA), according to a news release from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, DC.
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston said PPACA was an important step toward ensuring access to health coverage for all Americans but was "profoundly flawed in its treatment of abortion, conscience rights, and fairness to immigrants."
He urged members to support H.R. 5111, sponsored by Reps. Joseph Pitts (R-PA) and Dan Lipinski (D-IL) with 91 other House members, and added, "Efforts to ensure that our health care system truly serves the life, health, and conscience of all will be a legislative goal of the Catholic bishops in the months to come."
This legislation, wrote Cardinal DiNardo, "will bring PPACA into line with policies on abortion and conscience rights that have long prevailed in other federal health programs" by ensuring PPACA funds are covered by the Hyde Amendment, along with other provisions.
Uninsured working-age Americans at risk
An analysis of more than 150,000 hospital discharges has revealed that there are significant insurance-related differences in hospital mortality, length of stay, and costs among working-age Americans, ages 18-64, hospitalized for acute myocardial infarction (AMI), stroke, or pneumonia.
These three conditions are among the leading causes of non-cancer, inpatient deaths in patients under 65 years old.
The analysis was published June 10 in the Journal of Hospital Medicine.
Compared with the privately insured, hospital mortality among AMI and stroke patients was significantly higher for the uninsured, 52% and 49% higher odds, respectively, and 21% higher among Medicaid recipients with pneumonia.
Length of stay was significantly longer for Medicaid recipients for all three conditions, while hospital costs were higher for Medicaid recipients for stroke and pneumonia, but not AMI. These disparities in hospital care were present even after accounting for differences in baseline health, socioeconomic status, and disease severity.
Worse outcomes for black heart transplant patients
Transplant surgeons at Johns Hopkins who have reviewed the medical records of more than 20,000 heart transplant patients say that it is not simply racial differences, but rather flaws in the health care system, along with type of insurance and education levels, in addition to biological factors, that are likely the causes of disproportionately worse outcomes after heart transplantation in African-Americans.
In a report published in the Annals of Thoracic Surgery online June 1, the Johns Hopkins team showed that race-matching donor hearts did nothing to extend life in organ recipients. Race-matching is the practice of transplanting donor hearts into patients of the same ethnic group.
"It does not matter whether a black, white, Hispanic, or Asian donor heart is transplanted into a patient of any other particular race," said senior study investigator and Johns Hopkins transplant surgeon, Ashish Shah, MD, in a Johns Hopkins Medicine news release.