Will Doctors Soon Be Prescribing Video Games For Mental Health?
At the University of California–San Francisco, neuroscientist Adam Gazzaley is putting a fully immersive video game focused on multitasking through the paces of the FDA approval process for medical devices. If successful, Gazzaley sees great potential to use these games for a range of mental health conditions: post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism, Alzheimer’s. — April Dembosky, KQED
Facing Rising Dental Costs, Seniors Head to Mexico
Nearly 70 percent of older adults are not insured for dental care, according to a study compiled by Oral Health America. A major reason is because dental care is not covered by Medicare, many employers no longer offer post-retirement health benefits, and the Affordable Care Act allows enrollees to purchase dental coverage only if they also purchase general health coverage first—which many older adults don’t need. At the same time, they often require the most costly dental work, like crowns, implants and false teeth. As a result, many older adults are seeking cheaper care in places like Los Algodones, where Mexican dentists who speak English and sometimes accept U.S. insurance offer rock-bottom prices for everything from a cleaning to implants. — Astrid Galvan
Conflict brewing in Congress over mental health privacy rule
Congress is preparing to tackle substantial mental health reform this fall — and a fight is already brewing over patient privacy. Privacy rights advocates say a 1972 law keeps patients’ addiction histories from falling into the wrong hands. They fear discrimination if the law is altered, and believe patients should have the right to decide who sees their records. … But reformers say the 43-year-old law is antiquated and cumbersome, and makes it nearly impossible to know a patient’s medical history. That hinders the kind of coordinated care stressed by today’s health care payment polices in the interest of lowering costs and improving care. — David Pittman
Kaiser Family Foundation
REPORT: Dual Eligible Demonstrations—The Beneficiary Perspective
Although the six interviewees’ experiences differed, certain common themes (e.g., interviewees tended to enroll in the demonstration based on information or with assistance from trusted sources; interviewees who opted out of the demonstrations often did so because they did not understand what the new program would mean for them; participation in the demonstrations can be disrupted if they lose eligibility for either Medicare or Medicaid; interviewees embrace the concept of better-coordinated care, although initial implementation was slow; health plan provider networks were not as robust as interviewees thought they would be; and, interviews revealed a need for greater assistance and more information about how to get help with obtaining needed services) provide insights that can help inform states and other stakeholders as the demonstrations progress. — Laura Summer, Molly O’Malley Watts, and MaryBeth Musumeci
Federal Parity Law Associated With Increased Probability Of Using Out-Of-Network Substance Use Disorder Treatment Services
Examining insurance claims for more than 525,000 individuals with health coverage through large self-insured employers, researchers found the federal mental health parity law is associated with an increased probability of using out-of-network services, an increased average number of out-of-network outpatient visits, and increased average total spending on out-of-network services among users of those services. — Emma E. McGinty et al., researchers affiliated with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Yale School of Public Health, Harvard Medical School, Arbor Research Collaborative for Health, and the University of Maryland School of Medicine
The Washington Post
Fairfax makes push for aid instead of jail
Following the high-profile case of Natasha McKenna, a woman with schizophrenia who died in police custody last February, Fairfax County, Virginia is launching a program – Diversion First – in January to reduce the number of inmates with mental health conditions at its jails by diverting nonviolent offenders experiencing crises to treatment instead of incarceration. Approximately 40 percent of the county’s 1,100 inmates have a mental health or substance use condition, or both. — Justin Jouvenal
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