Health Beat: Obamacare deadline pushed back two days

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 75 views 

Editor’s note: Each Wednesday, Talk Business & Politics provides “Health Beat,” a round-up of health-related topics.

TUESDAY’S OBAMACARE DEADLINE PUSHED BACK TWO DAYS; HHS SAYS 1 MILLION CUSTOMERS FACE DELAYS: Faced with unprecedented demand for health insurance coverage for 2016, the federal Department of Health and Human Services late Tuesday evening extended its deadline to sign up for Obamacare until 11:59 p.m. (PST) on Thursday, Dec. 17.

“Hundreds of thousands have already selected plans over the last few days, and approximately 1 million of you have left contact information to hold your place in line,” according to alert at “We want to make sure all of you have access to affordable coverage. This additional 48 hours will give you a chance to come back and complete your enrollment for coverage starting January 1.”

ARKANSAS BLUE CROSS JOINS HEALTHCARE STARTUP HUB FOR INCUBATOR PROGRAM: Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield is joining a consortium that aims to recruit and develop healthcare innovation startup companies in Arkansas. The state’s largest health insurer is joining Baptist Health in partnership with the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub to support HubX—LifeSciences – a business incubator program focused on accelerating the development of new startup companies in the healthcare delivery field. Terms of the private investment were not disclosed. Read more here.

CDC: OPIOID, HEROIN DRUG OVERDOSE DEATHS ON THE RISE – New data shows the overall number and rate of drug overdose deaths increased notably between 2013-2014, driven in large part by continued increases in heroin deaths and an emerging increase in deaths involving illicit synthetic opioids, the U.S. Centers for Disease said in a recent report. Federal officials said the new data reaffirms the U.S. has not seen the peak of the opioid abuse and overdose epidemic and highlights the need for continued action to prevent opioid misuse and dependence to save lives.

The CDC data shows 18,893 overdose deaths involving opioid pain relievers in 2014, which is an increase of 16%, or 2,658 deaths, compared to 2013 data. Prescription opioid-related overdose deaths are increasing in part because deaths involving synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl and tramadol, increased by 79% from 2013-2014, totaling 5,544 deaths in 2014. Heroin-related deaths have more than tripled since 2010. Heroin-related death rates increased 28% from 2013-2014, totaling 10,574 deaths in 2014. Heroin is often cut with fentanyl – with or without the user’s knowledge – in order to increase its effect.

CONNECTICUT NONPROFIT LAUNCHING NATIONAL TRAINING PROGRAM FOR PRIMARY CARE CENTERS: Community Health Center Inc. of Connecticut is launching a new national initiative advancing the training of the next generation of primary care providers, as well as focusing on implementing and improving team-based primary care at health centers nationally. A recognized leader in primary care delivery and the team-based care model, CHC said it will utilize state-of-the-art tools to engage health centers across the country through interactive training sessions, learning collaboratives and web-based resources.

The program is funded by a $1 million award from the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) National Training and Technical Assistance Cooperative Agreement (NCA) focused on Clinical Workforce Development. CHC received the only award conferred by HRSA for workforce development, and over the next two years will provide technical assistance and guidance to more than 1,000 health centers across the U.S. at no cost to participants.