What We're Reading: Texas' Surprise Medical Bill Protection; Student Nicotine Testing; WIC Program Lowered Childhood Obesity

Texas' governor signs legislation to protect patients from receiving surprise medical bills; a Nebraska school district approves random nicotine testing for students; the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children lowered obesity rates for young children from 2010 to 2016.

Texas Governor Signs Bill to Protect Patients From Surprise Medical Bills

Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed bipartisan legislation that will protect patients from receiving surprise medical bills when insurance companies and medical providers can’t agree on a payment, Kaiser Health News reported. The new law, scheduled to become effective September 1, 2020, will allow insurers and healthcare providers to enter into arbitration to negotiate. Congressional leaders said they are working on a solution to end surprise medical billing for patients nationwide.

Nebraska School District Randomly Tests Students for Nicotine

In an effort to curb the youth vaping epidemic, a school district in Nebraska is randomly testing students in grades 7 through 12 for nicotine, according to The Hill. The school board voted to approve the policy last week and noncompliant students would be banned from participating in extracurricular activities. The school district has also considered installing vape detectors in bathrooms to detect e-cigarette vapor while other schools have even considered tearing down bathroom doors.

WIC Program Found to Lower Obesity Rates for Young Children

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) significantly lowered obesity rates for young children, according to a study in JAMA. The WIC Participant and Program Characteristics Survey gathered data from all participants who received benefits. The study found the prevalence of obesity for children between 2 to 4 years old fell from 15.9% in 2010 to 13.9% in 2016 while the prevalence of overweight or obesity decreased from 32.5% in 2010 to 29.1% in 2016. Obesity was defined as a body mass index (BMI) at or above the 95th percentile for age and sex on CDC growth charts while overweight was defined as a BMI between the 85th and 95th percentiles.