HealthConnections

Tuesdays during Morning Edition and All Things Considered

The brainchild of University of Tennessee associate professor Dr. Carole Myers, HealthConnections will bring the often-abstract world of health care, coverage and policy to a human level. What is access? How do marketplaces work? What's the future of health insurance? Dr. Myers and WUOT's Brandon Hollingsworth will sort through these issues and more, all to give you a toolbox for understanding what you hear on the news, or to separate fact from fiction in the health care debate.

In testimony last week before the U.S. Senate's Health, Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee, Tennessee Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak and Governor Bill Haslam urged Congress to keep paying cost-sharing payments called CSRs. The Trump Administration has hinted it will halt those payments, a move observers have said could be dangerous for already-precarious markets, consumers and insurers.

Let's save health care!

Okay, how?

That's where the country is right now. Polls show Americans generally agree health options, coverage and care could stand a good spruce-up (or even a major renovation). But how, and by how much, are open questions that, for now, have no clear answers either among the public or among elected officials.

Fifty-two years ago this summer, President Lyndon Johnson brought into being a program that would re-shape health care options for the poor and disabled. Depending on the observer's politics, Medicaid is either hailed as a step forward for low-income Americans or castigated as a handout program for the lazy. In this edition of HealthConnections, the realities of Medicaid in Tennessee. 

Last week, Republican lawmakers who had hoped to repeal, in whole or in part, the Affordable Care Act were dealt a setback. None of the four options debated in the U.S. Senate were approved. That means the ACA remains the law of the land.

University of Tennessee nursing professor Carole Myers says now is the time to modify the ACA. The law has provided health coverage to millions, Myers says, but there's definitely room for improvement.

Regardless of political persuasion, age, gender or other factors, one thing Americans seem to readily agree on is that medical care is too darn expensive. What explains the high cost of health care in this country, versus other industrialized nations?

On this edition of HealthConnections, University of Tennessee College of Nursing assistant professor Carole Myers explains three major elements that inflate medical costs in the U.S.: misapplication of supply and demand; an over-reliance on expensive, unnecessary tests; and a fragmented health insurance system.

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