Photo credit: Axios screenshot

Patients who used telehealth during the pandemic contributed to a decrease in emergency room visits by 40% nationwide, and by 80% among those 14 years old and younger, Mario Schlosser, co-founder and CEO of Oscar Health, said Tuesday at an Axios virtual event.

Why it matters: The decrease in ER visits showed many patients were regularly using telehealth services for non-emergencies. Virtual health care visits could become a default for check-ups, prescription refills and behavioral health even after the pandemic subsides, Schlosser added.

What he's saying: "I fully expect the future of the health care system and the very near future to remain at a larger degree virtual than it’s been the case in past."

Yes, but: 50% of Oscar Health's insurance claims disappeared during the pandemic, Schlosser said. Maternity visits and surgeries have been difficult to perform.

  • "We’ve got to come back at making sure the outcomes remain, the quality remains, the people come back to the physicians in person to make sure their chronic conditions get managed and so-on."

Watch the Axios event here

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Updated Jul 22, 2020 - Axios Events

Watch: The effect of the pandemic on chronic pain care

On Wednesday, July 22 Axios co-founder Mike Allen and health care reporter Caitlin Owens hosted the first of a two-part series on how the coronavirus pandemic is changing health care access for those dealing with chronic pain, featuring Rep. Ann Kuster (D-N.H.), Dr. Tuhina Neogi, Chief of Rheumatology at the Boston University School of Medicine and Randall Rutta, CEO of the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association.

Rep. Kuster discussed legislation on the equitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine and current progress being made in clinical trials.

  • On obstacles to keeping the public safe: "One of the big challenges we faced was the lack of leadership at the federal level from the White House as states were scrambling to find their own testing supplies and the PPE that was needed for frontline workers."
  • On progress made in vaccine trials for the coronavirus: "I'm an optimist, [and] I'm hoping certainly by early next year we will be administering the vaccine for COVID-19 here in America."

Dr. Neogi spoke about how to provide quality elective care during the current pandemic and highlighted how communities of color have been disproportionately affected by chronic pain.

  • On the risks patients with chronic pain have had to weigh during the pandemic: "All in-person visits were really limited to very urgent needs. Chronic pain patients have to decide if they wanted to come into a building where they might be exposed [to the virus] versus trying to manage their pain on their own."
  • On systemic inequities in health care: "So many people from communities of color are first line workers, so they don't have the ability to work remotely from home...Historically, people of color have had their chronic pain less aggressively managed than people of white backgrounds."

Randall Rutta discussed changing the framework for how to manage chronic pain and the challenges people have experienced in trying to receive care.

  • How the pandemic has impacted people with chronic pain: "Getting the care that they need is totally disrupted...They've got to be careful. They can't go out in society the way the rest of us can. With COVID-19, the threat of infection for them is very real."
  • On a new framework for treating chronic pain: "The [new] framework has to say, how can we help support you? What treatments might be available to you? ... Looking for the kinds of medicines that are not addictive and that will not have the kind of side effects we've seen in the past."

Thank you Pfizer and Eli Lilly for sponsoring this event.

31 mins ago - Health

Axios-Ipsos poll: Fear of voting

Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Note: ±3.0% margin of error for the total sample; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Democrats are twice as likely as Republicans to worry about in-person voting — with nearly two in three seeing it as a large or moderate risk to their health — according to this week's installment of the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

Why it matters: This could pose a significant disadvantage for Joe Biden and other Democratic candidates in November if the pattern holds — especially in states where high infection rates persist, or where there are significant hurdles to mail-in, absentee or early voting.

Trump: Coronavirus is "under control"

President Trump said in an interview with “Axios on HBO” that he thinks the coronavirus is as well-controlled in the U.S. as it can be, despite dramatic surges in new infections over the course of the summer and more than 150,000 American deaths.

  • “They are dying, that's true. And you have — it is what it is. But that doesn't mean we aren't doing everything we can. It's under control as much as you can control it. This is a horrible plague,” he told Axios' Jonathan Swan.