A map showing the status of state Medicaid expansion as of July 24, 2015
Anita Cardwell and Kaitlin Sheedy / State Refor(u)m

Medicaid Turns 50: What’s Next For The Nation’s Health Safety Net?

Congress established Medicaid fifty years ago today as a health insurance program for the poor, with the intention that the program would provide care just as good as what the rest of Americans receive. According to Rutgers University Medicaid scholar Frank J. Thompson, the program has done a lot of good, even if it hasn’t quite lived up to that early goal.
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A map showing the status of state Medicaid expansion as of July 24, 2015
Anita Cardwell and Kaitlin Sheedy / State Refor(u)m

Congress established Medicaid fifty years ago today as a health insurance program for the poor, with the intention that the program would provide care just as good as what the rest of Americans receive. According to Rutgers University Medicaid scholar Frank J. Thompson, the program has done a lot of good, even if it hasn’t quite lived up to that early goal.

The Senate unanimously approved legislation Monday night requiring hospitals across the nation to tell Medicare patients when they receive observation care but haven't been admitted to the hospital as inpatients.

The distinction is easy for patients to miss — until they get hit with big medical bills after a short stay.

George Ruiz via Flickr/ https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

MILFORD, Del. – When the only hospital in this southern Delaware town saw two of its four obstetricians move away, it knew it had to do something to ensure women in labor could always get immediate medical help. But recruiting doctors to the land of chicken farms and corn fields proved difficult.

Healthcare Expenditures Are Picking Up Again

Jul 29, 2015
D Gorenstein

When it comes to healthcare, it’s generally understood we have a spending problem. Namely, we spend too much.

A new report from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services suggests expenditures are picking back up after a recent historic slowdown.

But even with the uptick, these numbers suggest the nation is making progress.

Here's a bit of good news for Medicare, the popular government program that's turning 50 this week. Older Americans on Medicare are spending less time in the hospital; they're living longer; and the cost of a typical hospital stay has actually come down over the past 15 years, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Bram Sable-Smith / KBIA/Side Effects Public Media

One Saturday afternoon at a backyard cookout, St. Louis, Missouri, architect Dan Rosenberg enjoyed a cheeseburger – a food he’d enjoyed many times before.

That night, a couple hours after he went to sleep, he woke up with a searing pain in his stomach—pain he describes as “a nine on the ten-scale.”


Transgender people are not getting adequate health care, and widespread discrimination is largely to blame, according to a recent World Health Organization report. And the story is told most starkly in the high rates of HIV among transgender women worldwide.

JoAnne Keatley, one of the authors of that study, puts it plainly.

Lima Pix via Flickr/ https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

What We've Been Reading This Week:

America's Kids Are Healthier, But Racial Divides Persist

Fewer children are dying in infancy and before adulthood and abusing drugs, and more have health insurance, according to an annual report on children and teens, published Tuesday. But poverty may be holding back some minority kids. Side Effects' Andrea Muraskin takes a look

Anyone who's fought cancer knows that it's not just scary, but pricey, too.

"A lot of my patients cry — they're frustrated," says Dr. Ayalew Tefferi, a hematologist at the Mayo Clinic. "Many of them spend their life savings on cancer drugs and end up being bankrupt."

The average U.S. family makes $52,000 annually. Cancer drugs can easily cost a $120,000 a year. Out-of-pocket expenses for the insured can run $25,000 to $30,000 — more than half of a typical family's income.

children of different races
McGeorge BLSA via Flickr/ https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

The health of America’s children is improving along four key measures: low birth weight, health insurance coverage, child and teen death, and substance abuse. Economic indicators, however, paint a gloomier picture, with childhood poverty staying stagnant or worsening. That’s according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s annual Kids Count Data Book, published Tuesday. The report measures the effects of economics, education, family and health on children’s wellbeing. The researchers focused on changes between 2008 and 2013.

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Looking for the Sound Medicine Radio Hour?

After fifteen years on the air, the Sound Medicine Radio Hour, a weekly news magazine about medicine and health, broadcast and podcast its final new show on the last weekend in April 2015. The archive continues to live on this website. Learn more here.
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