Capitol Ideas May/June 2014

Dr. James Mold believes the health care profession can learn a lot from farmers. When farmers have a problem, many times they’ll look to the network of cooperative extension agents spread across counties in a state. Mold believes creating a similar extension service network can provide that same support for health care providers.

Population growth, aging baby boomers and a dramatic rise in the number of insured Americans resulting from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act are stressing America’s health care system like never before. Demand for care is increasing dramatically, but access to a variety of health professionals has remained largely static. One possible solution may be an increased emphasis on license portability through a series of medical licensing compacts.

The first enrollment period for health care insurance under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has ended. The Obama administration announced in April that more than 7 million people had enrolled on state and federal health care exchanges. Here are some updates on what's going on in the states with regard to health care reform.

Seth Hyman wakes up each day on edge. He ends it the same way. “We are always on edge—24/7,” said Hyman.

The reason: His 8-year-old daughter Rebecca is considered medically complex, which means she has a lot of medical issues. She’s nonverbal. She can’t walk. She is fully dependent on others at all times of the day. The most significant struggle she faces, he said, is seizures, which started about four years ago. Some are minor; others are more serious. The Hymans don’t bother counting each seizure because there are so many every day. They believe medical marijuana could help Rebecca.

At a time when more people need health care, the shortage of physicians across the country is growing. That dynamic is making telemedicine, or telehealth—the use of electronic telecommunications technology to diagnose or treat a patient in need of care, service or monitoring—even more important.