On Friday, May 15, Axios Co-founder Mike Allen hosted a conversation on the hidden health crises that the pandemic is exposing and exacerbating, focusing on mental health and Medicaid with Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-Ill.), former Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt, and Axios health care reporter Caitlin Owens.Rep. Lauren Underwood discussed the growing concern around people losing employment as well as their health insurance and the importance of nurses' voices in the policymaking process.

  • "We're hearing from health care workers who are still trying to source masks and gowns that they needed yesterday...We've been working really hard to make sure that everybody has, at the bare minimum, the protective equipment in order to make sure that they can do their job safely for their own health and for the health and well-being of their patients."
  • "[Nurses] do not have the luxury of opting out. Everything that we do as nurses is informed by our policy process...We know that nurses are on the frontline of this crisis and need to be able to inform our policymakers about the current status of our healthcare system"

Andy Slavitt highlighted the mental health impact this pandemic will have on medical professionals and his concerns over federal leadership's shortcomings on coronavirus response.

  • On attacks on Dr. Anthony Fauci: "I want our best players on the frontlines working on these issues. He's an integral player in efforts to get a vaccine. You don't want to take him off the frontlines...This suppressing of the inconvenient scientific voice — it's happened with climate scientists, it's happened with the EPA...It's not a great way for us to deal with this crisis."
  • On the long-term impacts of trauma on medical professionals: "Day in, day out trauma has really significant PTSD-like impacts...Start with the medical community, start with people who are going in [to hospitals] every day without help and protection that our front line workforce should have."

In a View from the Top segment, Axios Co-founder & CEO Jim VandeHei was joined by Highmark Health CEO David Holmberg to discuss innovation in supply chain management and protecting frontline health care workers.

  • On adapting to disruption in the supply chain: "We adopted a strategy of self-rescue and created new and innovative ways to create personal protection equipment and fill some of the gaps that others may not have been able to."
  • On preparing Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Delaware for a surge in COVID-19 cases: "There are many parts of the country that were able to learn from the pain that New York felt, that happened in Italy and elsewhere around the world...We took 18000 clinicians and stood them down from their day-to day-work, so that we had the beds ready, we had the clinicians prepared and we were able to absorb whatever came our way."

Thank you Blue Cross Blue Shield Association for sponsoring this event.

Go deeper

Aug 18, 2020 - Health

LBGTQ youth face roadblocks to mental health services

Data: The Trevor Project; Chart: Axios Visuals

LGBTQ youth say a slew of roadblocks prevent them from accessing mental health services, a new report from the Trevor Project says.

The big picture: Cost was by far the biggest barrier, but respondents also cited a stigma surrounding mental health issues, as well as skepticism about whether they could trust a therapist.

Aug 19, 2020 - Health

People of color struggle to afford health care

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

People of color disproportionately lack stable health insurance and have more trouble affording health care than white Americans, a new survey from the Commonwealth Fund shows.

Why it matters: This is one of the long-standing inequalities the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated.

Hurricane Zeta makes landfall in Mexico ahead of expected arrival in U.S.

Hurricane Zeta's forecast path. Photo: National Hurricane Center

Hurricane Zeta made landfall on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula as a Category 1 storm late Monday packing maximum sustained winds of 80 mph, per the National Hurricane Center.

The state of play: Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) declared a state of emergency Monday as Zeta strengthened into a hurricane earlier Monday.