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Health Net Initiatives Recognized by Institute for Medicaid Innovation for Addressing Social Determinants of Health to Improve Health Equity

Health Net Initiatives Recognized by Institute for Medicaid Innovation for Addressing Social Determinants of Health to Improve Health Equity
PR Newswire
SACRAMENTO, Calif., June 30, 2022

Initiatives expanded telehealth to California’s most vulnerab…

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Health Net Initiatives Recognized by Institute for Medicaid Innovation for Addressing Social Determinants of Health to Improve Health Equity

PR Newswire

Initiatives expanded telehealth to California's most vulnerable residents; extended physical and mental health care to those without shelter; promoted healthy child development; and improved food access and education.

SACRAMENTO, Calif., June 30, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Health Net, one of California's longest serving and most experienced Medi-Cal partners, has been recognized by the Institute for Medicaid Innovation (IMI) for their various initiatives throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to address social determinants of health and to reduce inequities.

"The pandemic meant we needed to rapidly pivot how we do our work to continue meeting the needs of our members," said Dr. Pooja Mittal, Chief Health Equity Officer at Health Net. "We are proud of the work our teams have done to help members stay connected to care and services, whether through telehealth or community outreach. We will continue these efforts for years to come."

When the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020, many providers halted outpatient care for days, weeks or longer to decrease the risk of transmitting the virus to patients or health care workers. But Californians continued to need food, information and support. Health Net stepped in and listened, adapting existing initiatives and developing new ones to meet the health and social needs of the communities they serve.

IMI hosted a webinar to examine and highlight initiatives that addressed social determinants of health and health inequities exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Among them, Health Net had four programs that were showcased to attendees, including their COVID-19 Telehealth Capacity Support, MLKCH Street Medicine Program, Family Hui Initiative and Los Angeles Food Bank Pilot.

COVID-19 Telehealth Capacity Support
As medical appointments quickly shifted to virtual visits during the pandemic, Health Net launched its COVID-19 Telehealth Capacity Support program to establish and expand telehealth services for Medi-Cal enrollees. In 2020, Health Net awarded 138 Telehealth Capacity grants, totaling $13.4 million, to Medi-Cal providers across California. Grantees identified the following benefits of providing telehealth services:

  • 31% said funding allowed them to conduct routine checkups and wellness visits.
  • 42% indicated that telehealth was an important tool for patient screenings.
  • 17% provided health education, including nutrition, physical activity counseling, and smoking-cessation programs.
  • 16% reported success in providing mental health services.

MLKCH Street Medicine Program
The effects of the pandemic have been particularly difficult for individuals who are experiencing homelessness. That's why Health Net funded the MLKCH Street Medicine program, a collaboration between Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital (MLKCH) and University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine. The program engages experts in street medicine to help reduce disparities in health outcomes for people experiencing homelessness in South Los Angeles by achieving the following outcomes:

  • Increased connection to primary and specialty medical care;
  • Increased access to mental health and substance use disorder treatment;
  • Improved sanitation and nutrition;
  • Decreased avoidable hospital and emergency department visits;
  • Reduced disparities in hypertension and diabetes control.

Family Hui Initiative
Recognizing the challenges of parenting throughout the pandemic, Health Net funded the community-based organization, Lead4Tomorrow, to provide Family Hui parental, peer-led support groups in Imperial, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Bernardino and San Joaquin counties. Named for the Hawaiian term "Hui" (hoo'ee), a cooperative group working together for a shared purpose, Family Hui aims to promote healthy child development. The program supports and empowers parents and caregivers in the joys of raising their children and addresses the challenges in healthy ways through providing:

  • A trauma-informed parenting curriculum;
  • Leadership training for peer facilitators;
  • Resilience-building activities;
  • Connections for parents to services to build a strong support community.

Los Angeles Food Bank Pilot
With inflation making food more costly, food banks and community organizations need help feeding families who struggle to put food on the table. Health Net awarded the Los Angeles (LA) Regional Food Bank a grant to assist members in managing their health through increased food access and nutrition awareness. The LA Food Bank Pilot program provided home-delivered groceries and went beyond food distribution to sponsor an interactive, educational webinar series on nutrition and its role in managing chronic illness. The pilot worked to accomplish the following objectives:

  • Encourage a relationship between the health plan and its members;
  • Promote healthy lifestyle changes;
  • Provide education on healthy food options and practices;
  • Provide healthy foods to individuals experiencing financial or transportation barriers.

With more than 40 years of experience providing care for the state's most vulnerable residents, Health Net continues to lead the charge to improve health equity with multi-faceted, collaborative and culturally relevant programs and interventions at the statewide and local level. To learn more about Health Net's industry-leading efforts to drive health equity, visit BridgingtheDivideCA.com and follow Health Net on Facebook and Twitter.

About Health Net:
Founded in California more than 40 years ago, Health Net believes every person deserves a safety net for their health, regardless of age, income, employment status or current state of health. That's why we provide health coverage for every stage of life and advance health equity with innovative approaches to care. Today, Health Net's 2,600 employees and 90,000 network providers serve three million members throughout California. We offer an array of health plans, including Medi-Cal, Medicare and individual and family plans. We offer these health plans and other services through Health Net, LLC and its subsidiaries: Health Net of California, Inc., Health Net Life Insurance Company and Health Net Community Solutions, Inc. These entities are wholly owned subsidiaries of Centene Corporation (NYSE: CNC), a Fortune 25 company. For more information, visit www.HealthNet.com.

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Economics

Reduced myocardial blood flow is new clue in how COVID-19 is impacting the heart

Patients with prior COVID may be twice as likely to have unhealthy endothelial cells that line the inside of the heart and blood vessels, according to…

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Patients with prior COVID may be twice as likely to have unhealthy endothelial cells that line the inside of the heart and blood vessels, according to newly published research from Houston Methodist. This finding offers a new clue in understanding covid-19’s impact on cardiovascular health.

Credit: Houston Methodist

Patients with prior COVID may be twice as likely to have unhealthy endothelial cells that line the inside of the heart and blood vessels, according to newly published research from Houston Methodist. This finding offers a new clue in understanding covid-19’s impact on cardiovascular health.

In a new study published today in JACC: Cardiovascular Imaging, Houston Methodist researchers examined the coronary microvasculature health of 393 patients with prior covid-19 infection who had lingering symptoms. This is the first published study linking reduced blood flow in the body and COVID-19.

Using a widely available imaging tool, called positron emission tomography (PET), researchers found a 20% decrease in the ability of coronary arteries to dilate, a condition known as microvascular dysfunction. They also found that patients with prior COVID-19 infection were more likely to have reduced myocardial flow reserve – and changes in the resting and stress blood flow – which is a marker for poor prognosis and is associated with a higher risk of adverse cardiovascular events.

“We were surprised with the consistency of reduced blood flow in post covid patients within the study,” said corresponding author Mouaz Al-Mallah, M.D., director of cardiovascular PET at Houston Methodist DeBakey Heart and Vascular Center, and president elect of the American Society of Nuclear Cardiology. “The findings bring new questions, but also help guide us toward further studying blood flow in COVID-19 patients with persistent symptoms.”

Dysfunction and inflammation of endothelial cells is a well-known sign of acute Covid-19 infection, but little is known about the long-term effects on the heart and vascular system. Earlier in the pandemic, research indicated that COVID-19 could commonly cause myocarditis but that now appears to be a rare effect of this viral infection.

A recent study from the Netherlands found that 1 in 8 people had lingering symptoms post-covid. As clinicians continue to see patients with symptoms like shortness of breath, palpations and fatigue after their recovery, the cause of long covid is mostly unknown.

Further studies are needed to document the magnitude of microvascular dysfunction and to identify strategies for appropriate early diagnosis and management. For instance, reduced myocardial flow reserve can be used to determine a patient’s risk when presenting with symptoms of coronary artery disease over and above the established risk factors, which can become quite relevant in dealing with long Covid.

Next steps will require clinical studies to discover what is likely to happen in the future to patients whose microvascular health has been affected by COVID-19, particularly those patients who continue to have lingering symptoms, or long COVID.

This work was supported, in part, by grants from the National Institutes of Health under contract numbers R01 HL133254, R01 HL148338 and R01 HL157790.

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For more information: Coronary microvascular health in patients with prior COVID-19 infection. JACC: Cardiovascular Imaging. (online Aug. 16, 2022) Ahmed Ibrahim Ahmed, Jean Michel Saad, Yushui Han, Fares Alahdab, Maan Malahfji, Faisal Nabi, John J Mahmarian, John P. Cook, William A Zoghbi and Mouaz H Al-Mallah. DOI: www.doi.org/10.1016/j.jcmg.2022.07.006

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Spread & Containment

War, peace and security: The pandemic’s impact on women and girls in Nepal and Sri Lanka

The impacts of COVID-19 must be incorporated into women, peace and security planning in order to improve the lives of women and girls in postwar countries…

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Nepalese girls rest for observation after receiving the Moderna vaccine for COVID-19 in Kathmandu, Nepal. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)

Attention to the pandemic’s impacts on women has largely focused on the Global North, ignoring countries like Nepal and Sri Lanka, which continue to deal with prolonged effects of war. While the Nepalese Civil War concluded in 2006 and the Sri Lankan Civil War concluded in 2009, internal conflicts continue.

As scholars of gender and war, our work focuses on the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security. And our recently published paper examines COVID-19’s impacts on women and girls in Nepal and Sri Lanka, looking at policy responses and their repercussions on the women, peace and security agenda.

COVID-19 has disproportionately and negatively impacted women in part because most are the primary family caregivers and the pandemic has increased women’s caring duties.

This pattern is even more pronounced in war-affected countries where the compounding factors of war and the pandemic leave women generally more vulnerable. These nations exist at the margins of the international system and suffer from what the World Bank terms “fragility, conflict and violence.”

Women, labour and gender-based violence

Gendered labour precarity is not new to Nepal or Sri Lanka and the pandemic has only eroded women’s already poor economic prospects.

Prior to COVID-19, Tharshani (pseudonym), a Sri Lankan mother of three and head of her household, was able to make ends meet. But when the pandemic hit, lockdowns prevented Tharshani from selling the chickens she raises for market. She was forced to take loans from her neighbours and her family had to skip meals.

Some 1.7 million women in Sri Lanka work in the informal sector, where no state employment protections exist and not working means no wages. COVID-19 is exacerbating women’s struggles with poverty and forcing them to take on debilitating debts.

Although Sri Lankan men also face increased labour precarity, due to gender discrimination and sexism in the job market, women are forced into the informal sector — the jobs hardest hit by the pandemic.

Two women sit in chairs, wearing face masks
Sri Lankan women chat after getting inoculated against the coronavirus in Colombo, Sri Lanka, in August 2021. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

The pandemic has also led to women and girls facing increased gender-based violence.

In Nepal, between March 2020 and June 2021, there was an increase in cases of gender-based violence. Over 1,750 incidents were reported in the media, of which rape and sexual assault represented 82 per cent. Pandemic lockdowns also led to new vulnerabilities for women who sought out quarantine shelters — in Lamkichuha, Nepal, a woman was allegedly gang-raped at a quarantine facility.

Gender-based violence is more prevalent among women and girls of low caste in Nepal and the pandemic has made it worse. The Samata Foundation reported 90 cases of gender-based violence faced by women and girls of low caste within the first six months of the pandemic.

What’s next?

While COVID-19 recovery efforts are generally focused on preparing for future pandemics and economic recovery, the women, peace and security agenda can also address the needs of some of those most marginalized when it comes to COVID-19 recovery.

The women, peace and security agenda promotes women’s participation in peace and security matters with a focus on helping women facing violent conflict. By incorporating women’s perspectives, issues and concerns in the context of COVID-19 recovery, policies and activities can help address issues that disproportionately impact most women in war-affected countries.

These issues are: precarious gendered labor market, a surge in care work, the rising feminization of poverty and increased gender-based violence.

A girl in a face mask stares out a window
The women, peace and security agenda can help address the needs of some of those most marginalized. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)

Policies could include efforts to create living-wage jobs for women that come with state benefits, emergency funding for women heads of household (so they can avoid taking out predatory loans) and increasing the number of resources (like shelters and legal services) for women experiencing domestic gender-based violence.

The impacts of COVID-19 must be incorporated into women, peace and security planning in order to achieve the agenda’s aims of improving the lives of women and girls in postwar countries like Nepal and Sri Lanka.

Luna KC is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Research Network-Women Peace Security, McGill University. This project is funded by the Government of Canada Mobilizing Insights in Defence and Security (MINDS) program.

Crystal Whetstone does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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Economics

Target Sets Sights on Holiday Season, Has Plan for High Inventory

Target said that it still expects spillover from inventory rightsizing to the tune of $200 million in the third quarter.

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Target said that it still expects spillover from inventory rightsizing to the tune of $200 million in the third quarter.

Target's  (TGT) - Get Target Corporation Report strategy is paying off as the company's stock falls on heavy volume following its earnings release. 

Normally, a profit miss as wide as Target's, 39 cents per share vs. expectations of 72 cents per share, would result in a bigger drop than Target's, but the retailer has been prepping the market for this miss all summer. 

The inventory the company built up during the height of the pandemic, as Americans shopped more from home, needs to go, and the only way get rid of the excess product is deep discounts. 

"Back in June, we announced that our team would be undertaking a bold effort to rightsize our inventory position in the categories for which demand patterns have radically changed," CEO Brian Cornell said during the company's earnings call. "While this decision had a meaningful short-term impact on our financial results, we strongly believe it was the best path forward."

Now, looking forward the company sees some overhang for the third quarter, but expects a big holiday season ahead. 

While some fear a recession and what it might do to the economy, Target is convinced that the holiday season will be strong.

Image source: John Smith/VIEWpress.

Target Aims for Holiday Season

While Target is focused on the back-to-school season currently underway, the company expects "spillover" from its inventory issues to be present during the third quarter to the tune of $200 million. 

But the company's own checks suggest that its shoppers are excited about the holiday season. 

"The one thing that seems to be very consistent is a guest and consumer who says they want to celebrate the holiday seasons so we certainly expect that they are going to be celebrating Halloween this year and actively trick or treating and hosting parties with friends and family," Cornell said.

"We know they're looking forward to Thanksgiving and they're going to look forward to celebrating the Christmas holidays and that comes down each and every week as we survey consumers and talk to our guests so that gives us great optimism for our ability to perform during these key holiday seasons"

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Not only does Target expect a strong quarter, but the company also expects favorable comps as fourth quarter headwinds from a year ago aren't present this time around. 

"Guests already have their sights set on upcoming holidays and seasonal moments in Q3 and beyond," Cornell said.

Target's Q2 Collapse

Target said adjusted earnings for the three months ending in July were pegged at 39 cents per share, down 89% from the same period last year and well shy of the Street consensus forecast of 72 cents per share.

Group revenues, Target said, rose 3.5% to $26 billion, essentially matching analysts' estimates of a $26.04 billion tally. Target said same-store sales rose 2.6%, again shy of the Refinitiv forecast of 3.2%, while operating margins fell to 1.2%, below the group's July guidance of a 2% level. 

Earlier this summer, Target cautioned that its bigger-than-expected 35% build-up in overall inventories over the first quarter would trigger price cuts, adding that deeper discounts would be needed to shift the excess goods onto a customer base that was already pulling back on discretionary spending.

Walmart  (WMT) - Get Walmart Inc. Report, Target's larger big box rival, said Tuesday that improving spending trends, as well as actions the group has taken to shift excess inventory, will ease some of the pressures it expects to face in terms of overall profits over the back half of the year.

Walmart said adjusted earnings for the three months ended in July came in at $1.77 per share, down one penny from the same period last year but well ahead of the Street consensus forecast of $1.62 per share.

Group revenues, the company said, were tabbed at $152.9 billion, an 8.4% increase from last year that topped analysts' estimates of $150.81 billion. U.S. same-store sales rose 6.5% from last year, the company said, firmly topping the Refinitiv forecast. 

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