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What We’re Reading: Prior Authorization for Colonoscopies; Stalled Infant, Maternal Death Prevention; Hospital Police Forces

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UnitedHealthcare will require most colonoscopies to have prior authorization; the World Health Organization says that progress in reducing maternal and infant deaths has halted; hospitals are creating their own police forces to address increasing violence against staff.

Change to United’s Colonoscopy Coverage Incites Frustration

Gastroenterologists learned in March that UnitedHealthcare plans to block many colonoscopies behind prior authorization starting on June 1, meaning that any United members seeking surveillance and diagnostic colonoscopies to detect cancer will need United’s approval first, or else have to pay out of pocket, reported STAT News. Doctors say that the prior authorization requirement will make it harder for patients to get endoscopic procedures, especially cancer diagnostic and surveillance procedures, done promptly. These procedures make up about 50% of those that gastroenterologists perform.

Infant and Maternal Death Reduction Has Stagnated, Says WHO

International progress on maternal and infant health is languishing, the World Health Organization (WHO) suggested in a report, according to The Washington Post. Agency officials mentioned “extraordinarily high” rates of preventable maternal deaths, stillbirths, and newborn deaths in a document released in May. Just in 2020, the agency reported that a combined 4.5 million deaths transpired among mothers and infants. To meet targets in areas including prenatal care, the presence of skilled health professionals at every birth, and postnatal care for newborns, the world would need to decrease maternal mortality by 11.6% annually this decade and continue reducing stillbirths and infant deaths.

Violence Against Staff Has Hospitals Creating Police Forces

This May, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, a Republican, signed a law that increases criminal penalties for assaults against hospital workers and permits health care facilities in the state to make independent police forces, reported NPR. The law comes in response to a testimony of hospital violence, hospital lobbying, and data documenting an increase in violence against health care workers. In appointing the law, Georgia joined other states trying to reverse a rise in violence over the last few years through more rigid criminal penalties and boosted law enforcement.

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