What We're Reading: Homeless Suffer in Extreme Heat; Opioid-Addicted Patients Could Lose Virtual Access; Architect of HMO Dies

Homeless people in the county of Phoenix, Arizona, made up 130 of the 339 who died of heat-associated causes in 2021; patients who are addicted to opioids may lose online help if federal regulations expire; Paul M Ellwood Jr, MD, the creator of the health maintenance organization (HMO) concept, died aged 95 years.

Homeless in Phoenix Suffer in Extreme Heat

The homeless population of Phoenix, Arizona, and the surrounding towns in the county made up 130 of the 339 deaths who had died from heat-associated causes in 2021, according to AP News. Excessive heat has caused more weather-related deaths in the United States than hurricanes, flooding, and tornadoes combined. An analysis also found that exposure to extreme heat now affects almost a quarter of the world’s population, making it a worldwide problem mostly related to climate change. Phoenix has recently opened a 200-bed shelter for homeless people to combat excessive heat deaths in the homeless population.

Patients Addicted to Opioids May Lose Virtual Care

Federal regulations that have allowed the prescription of buprenorphine over audio or video appointments are set to expire along with the COVID-19 public health emergency, even as opioid deaths are reaching record highs. Politico reported that the deadline could come as soon as October, as the Drug Enforcement Agency has missed deadlines to continue virtual access. The expiration of these regulations could be a blow to the fight against opioid addiction in young adults. There are currently more people who die of drug overdose than guns or suicide, according to CDC data.

Paul M Ellwood Jr, MD, Dead Aged 95

Paul M Ellwood Jr, MD, died on Monday, June 20, aged 95 years. Ellwood is credited with conceiving and implementing the term health maintenance organization (HMO) in which doctors are paid by number of patients seen and whose enrolled members are guaranteed access to network doctors and care for fixed premiums. HMOs claim to offer high-quality service and cut overlapping medical consultations, unnecessary treatments, and unnecessary hospitalizations. Critics of the HMO claim that prepaid plans run the risk of skimpy care. Ellwood died of organ failure at a care center, according to his wife.