Health & Environment

4000 North Dakotans signed up for expanded Medicaid

Feb 12, 2014

So far, just under 4000 North Dakotans have signed up for health care coverage under the expanded Medicaid program.

It’s part of the federal affordable care act. The Legislature approved Governor Dalrymple’s recommendation that Medicaid be expanded for low income people who can’t afford health insurance on their own.

State human services director Maggie Anderson told the Legislature’s interim Government Finance Committee – the department had estimated up to 20,500 North Dakotans could enroll through expanded Medicaid.

Working For A Healthier Red River

Jan 15, 2014

Keeping the Red River healthy… the challenge is part of on-going talks and planning by members of the Red River Basin Commission. The issue was given a lot of agenda time during the annual commission summit, this week in Fargo.

A new option to apply for expanded Medicaid

Dec 6, 2013

Low income North Dakotans have another option to apply for health care coverage through the expanded Medicaid program.

Until now, they could apply on-line or in-person. The new option: by phone.

"We actually have contracted with a vendor (Automated Health Systems), who will take applications over the phone, if they would prefer to make an application that way, rather than in person or on-line," said North Dakota Human Services Director Maggie Anderson. She says people have already been applying via computer or paper.

One of the North Dakota Legislature’s most vocal supporters of the federal Affordable Healthcare Act – dubbed “Obamacare” – says the legislative majority leadership set up the law for failure.

Sen. Tim Mathern (D-Fargo) says all one needs to do is look at the signups in North Dakota – compared to the sign ups in Minnesota.

"In Minnesota, thousands of people are signing up," said Mathern. "In North Dakota, they aren't. Had we worked together in a partnership with the federal government, this would be a different situation."

Lawmakers looking at 'dental therapists'

Oct 31, 2013

A Legislative interim committee is looking at ways to make dental services more available to North Dakotans who need those services.

Studies show that people who live in rural areas, low-income adults, Medicaid-eligible children, the elderly and Native Americans do not have adequate access to dental care.

"Dental care is expensive," University of Minnesota Dental School dean Dr. Leon Assael told the Legislature's interim Health Services Committee. "It's got a great unmet need. Can we reduce the costs of dental care and meet that unmet need?"

Flu season upon us

Oct 3, 2013

The last flu season was an active one in North Dakota.

"We had 4,833 cases of influenza reported to us," said State Health Department influenza surveillance coordinator Jill Baber. "Tha average is about 2500."

Baber said while there were no reported pediatric flu deaths, 516 deaths were reported from pneumonia or influenza-like illness. She says there’s no way to know what this upcoming season will bring – and that’s why the Department is reminding people to get their flu shots.

AARP says Social Security and Medicare should NOT be on the table – when Congress tries to work out a solution to the current budget stalemate.

Rather, the group says they should be part of a separate discussion.

AARP’s Josh Askvik delivered petitions with more than five thousand signatures to the Bismarck offices of the state’s Congressional delegation – saying that the current dispute over the budget and the debt ceiling should not contain cuts to either program.

North Dakota Insurance Commissioner Adam Hamm says now that the sign up has begun for the Affordable Care Act, he wants people to use common sense when they start exploring their options.

"Anytime you have something like that, it's obviously an opportunity for some folks to engage in fraudulent activity," Hamm said.

Hamm says he wants consumers to just make sure they’re doing things the right way. He says the Website “healthcare.gov” is the only official site for the new insurance marketplace.

DHS prepping for Affordable Care Act

Sep 25, 2013

As a part of the Affordable Care Act, North Dakota’s Legislature approved an expansion of Medicaid to cover people who right now don’t have health insurance.

And the state Department of Human Services is preparing.

"We estimated the number of individuals qualifying for the Medicaid expansion to be 20,500," said Human Services Executive Director Maggie Anderson. "The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that number to 32,000."

Uptick in West Nile Virus

Sep 19, 2013

North Dakota has seen another sharp uptick in the number of West Nile Virus cases reported to the state Health Department.

The state reports 76 West Nile cases. That’s up 37 cases since September Third.

"We did have our first peak at the end of July and beginning of August," said State Health Department West Nile program director Michelle Feist. "Then cases started tapering off. So we're actually looking at two peaks of West Nile illness onset, which is unusual."

Feist says her department isn’t sure what the reason is for the second peak.

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