What’s new in health? Weekly highlights

July 14, 2017

The Connecticut Health Foundation launched a weekly newsletter round-up of top local and national stories about health care reform and health equity to keep you informed. We will update our website with the four most recent round-ups so make sure to check back weekly or subscribe to our emails!

Week of July 10, 2017

HEALTH EQUITY

The messenger also matters: Value-based payment can support outreach to vulnerable populations
Ruth C. Browne, Marilyn Fraser, Judith Killen, and Laura Tollen, Health Affairs Blog, July 10
A Brooklyn-based project of the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health trains barbers and hairstylists to help formerly incarcerated men learn to recognize and act upon their own health risk factors. Value-based payment offers an opportunity to support these types of programs.

MENTAL HEALTH

People with mental illness are finding work helping peers
Lauren Silverman, NPR, July 11
Recovery coaches and peer mentors – known in Alcoholics Anonymous as “sponsors” — have for decades helped people who are addicted to alcohol or drugs. Now, peer support for people who have serious mental illness is becoming more common, too. Studies have shown it can be powerfully effective. “One of the problems with mental health is we’ve learned how to keep people ‘stable’ on their medications and get them out of the hospital. But recovery is about having a life in the community,” said Jim Zahniser, a psychologist at The Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute. “And peer services are often focused on those things: How do you get your life back?”

HEALTH REFORM

Health plans that nudge patients to do the right thing
Austin Frakt, The New York Times, July 10
As health care costs rise, Americans are increasingly on the hook to pay more for their care. This trend is more than just annoying — asking consumers to pay more for everything deters many from getting the care they need. What would happen if, instead, health plans offered more generous coverage of high-value care, but less generous coverage of those services that provide little or no health benefit?

Millions of kids fall outside Senate’s plan to shield disabled from Medicaid cuts
Jordan Rau, Kaiser Health News, July 10
Medicaid covers millions of children from working- and middle-class families whose medical problems are so extensive that most private insurance wouldn’t cover it all. Among them are Aidan Long, a 13-year-old whose daily seizures defy medical cure and sometimes require being airlifted to hospitals in other states. His family has private insurance, but Medicaid covers part of the bills, which have exceeded $2 million.

PUBLIC HEALTH

With diabetes rising at alarming rate, one state puts money behind prevention campaign
Soumya Karlamangla, Los Angeles Times, July 11
California’s Medicaid program has long paid the high costs of dialysis for diabetic patients whose kidneys have failed, but not the lower costs of trying to get people to eat better and work out more to avoid getting diabetes in the first place. That will soon change: The state’s Medi-Cal program will pay for recipients who are risk of developing diabetes to enroll in a diabetes prevention program that has been shown to cut the risk of developing diabetes by more than half. “What’s revolutionary about this change is that it finally starts to recognize that by investing modest amounts on the front end on prevention, we can save enormous amounts in the long term,” said Daniel Zingale, senior vice president at the California Endowment.

Week of July 3, 2017

HEALTH EQUITY

Birth-to-three specialists placed in doctor’s offices to spot developmental delays in children
Josh Kovner, The Hartford Courant, July 3
Specialists from a proven program — Birth-to-Three — are being placed in two pediatric offices to test whether developmental delays in children can be spotted and addressed more quickly, especially for children of color, who are often diagnosed far later than white children. “We can detect autism by 2, but the average age is 4, and for children of color, it’s 6,” said Dr. Thyde Dumont-Mathieu, a developmental-behavioral pediatrician at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center who is leading the project. “When that happens, they need more support and more services in their lives.”

Racial disparities persist despite decline in sudden unexpected infant deaths
Cara Rosner, Connecticut Health Investigative Team, July 5
A recent CDC study found that while the rate of infants dying suddenly and unexpectedly has dropped in recent years, racial and ethnic disparities persist.
Link to the CDC report: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/hus/index.htm

Black moms die in childbirth 3 times as often as white moms. Except in North Carolina. The state is focused on helping low-income moms, not on race
Julia Belluz, Vox, July 3
So what’s unique about North Carolina? They have a population health management approach, called the Pregnancy Medical Home program, for low-income pregnant women. When a woman on Medicaid in North Carolina becomes pregnant, her doctor is incentivized (through Medicaid financial reimbursements) to screen for issues that might make her pregnancy high-risk, looking out for potential obstetric or psychosocial risks as early as possible, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or depression. If the patient is deemed to be high risk, she’s connected with a “pregnancy care manager,” who helps the mom understand and adhere to steps needed to reduce her health risks.

MEDICAID

For millions, life without Medicaid services is no option
Abby Goodnough, The New York Times, July 1
Frances Isbell, 24, who has spinal muscular atrophy, is finishing law school at the University of Alabama. A personal care assistant she gets through Medicaid made her education possible. The care she gets is an optional benefit under federal Medicaid law, which means each state can decide whether to offer it and how much to spend. Experts say these kinds of optional services could be under threat if Congress changes how Medicaid is funded.

The financial impact of the American Health Care Act’s Medicaid provisions on safety-net hospitals
Allen Dobson, Joan DaVanzo, and Randy Haught, The Commonwealth Fund, June 28
Safety-net hospitals play a vital role in our health care system, delivering significant care to Medicaid, uninsured, and other vulnerable patients. A recent report from The Commonwealth Fund examines the financial impact that proposed AHCA changes to Medicaid would have on safety-net hospitals and the populations they serve.

OTHER RESOURCES

Shareable graphics >>> The impact of the Affordable Care Act on Connecticut
The Connecticut Health Foundation commissioned the Urban Institute to model the impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on Connecticut, with a focus on state residents who might lack health care coverage without it. The report is forthcoming, but in the meantime, visit our site for some shareable graphics about the ACA’s impact on Connecticut to start the conversation.

Week of June 26, 2017

HEALTH EQUITY

A new definition of health equity to guide future efforts and measure progress
Paula Braveman, Health Affairs, June 22
Until recently, talking about “equity” as a health researcher in the United States seemed almost radical. Today, the term “health equity” is mainstream. The number of scientific papers with “health equity” in the title or text has skyrocketed. Some of this work examines the health effects of racism and other forms of discrimination, some addresses biases in science, and some explicitly mentions social justice. It’s gratifying to see a broad research agenda developing around health equity.

Report: Many CT consumers don’t understand their health insurance policies
Cara Rosner, Connecticut Health Investigative Team, June 26
Insurance plans typically use complicated language that is difficult to understand, according to the Health Disparities Institute, UConn Health. As a result, some patients have trouble accessing care, experience delays in care, encounter administrative hassles and face other hurdles, the study found. Black and Hispanic consumers had more trouble understanding their plans than whites, according to the institute.

HEALTH CARE COVERAGE

New Haven rally demonstrates how many people would be impacted by the health care bill
Amanda Morris, The Hartford Courant, June 28
Connecticut, the first state to expand Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act, would face deep cuts to Medicaid under the Senate bill, known as the Better Care Reconciliation Act. These cuts could affect the more than 1 in five Connecticut residents who rely on Medicaid, as well as the hospitals that serve them.

Health insurance coverage and health — What the recent evidence tells us
Benjamin D. Sommers, Atul A. Gawande, and Katherine Baicker, The New England Journal of Medicine
A review of research finds that people benefit from health care coverage: Insurance coverage increases access to care and improves a wide range of health outcomes.

HEALTH INFORMATION EXCHANGE

CT health information exchange efforts forge ahead
Matt Pilon, Hartford Business Journal, June 26
Connecticut has tried and failed several times over the past decade to build a statewide network that would enable more seamless sharing of patients’ health data between their doctors and various other providers. But now two new competing exchanges are under development and could be launched soon.

FROM THE FOUNDATION

What’s at stake: The impact of The Affordable Care Act on Connecticut
As lawmakers debate major changes to the federal health law, it is important to understand what’s at stake in Connecticut. The Connecticut Health Foundation commissioned the Urban Institute to model the impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on Connecticut, with a focus on state residents who might lack health care coverage without it.

Week of June 19, 2017

HEALTH EQUITY

America’s new tobacco crisis: The rich stopped smoking, the poor didn’t
William Wan, The Washington Post, June 13
The national smoking rate has fallen to historic lows, with just 15 percent of adults still smoking. But the socioeconomic gap has never been bigger. Among the nation’s less-educated people — those with a high-school-equivalency diploma — the smoking rate remains more than 40 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Today, rural residents are diagnosed with lung cancer at rates 18 to 20 percent above those of city dwellers. By nearly every statistical measure, researchers say, America’s lower class now smokes more and dies more from cigarettes than other Americans.

HEALTH INSURANCE EXCHANGE

Vulnerable Access Health keeping an eye on other states
Julia Werth, The Connecticut Mirror, June 16
With Connecticut’s health insurance exchange teetering — with just two insurers left and neither yet committed for 2018 — the exchange’s board is beginning to watch innovations being considered in other states, including a single-payer system and Medicaid-for-all.

FEDERAL HEALTH REFORM

What’s in the Senate health care bill?
Rachel Roubein, The Hill, June 22
The Senate’s proposal would significantly change major health care safety net programs. The Hill summarizes some of the key details.
>> Read the bill

Dozens tell their stories to protest changes to the Affordable Care Act
Daniela Altimari, The Hartford Courant, June 19
They came by the dozens: cancer survivors and people with mental illness. Mothers of children with asthma and mothers whose children are struggling with drug addiction. Those with pre-existing conditions and those without jobs. Each person packed into a room at the state Capitol Monday morning had a story to share about why the Affordable Care Act ought to be preserved.

COMMUNITY HEALTH WORKERS

CT report: Community health workers have positive ROI
John Stearns, Hartford Business Journal, June 21
Connecticut healthcare organizations that hire community health workers could improve the health of high-need patients with asthma, diabetes and other chronic conditions while also saving money, according to an analysis released by the Connecticut Health Foundation.

FROM THE FOUNDATION

Improving health while saving money? Yes, it can be done.
It turns out there’s a way to both save money and improve outcomes for high-need patients with asthma, diabetes, and other chronic conditions. And no it’s not a new high-tech device or miracle pill. Its through building trusting relationships that bridge the gaps between the clinical care system and all the other factors in people’s lives that can influence their health.

>> Click here to read the report

 

Week of June 12, 2017

HEALTH EQUITY

A black alzheimer’s patient wants to be part of the cure
Katti Gray, Health Affairs, June 2017
Given the nation’s changing demographics, it’s neither good health policy nor good business to be developing drugs and possible cures that are tested in only a subset of the population, says Willie Deese, who retired in June 2016 as executive vice president at Merck. Deese, whose mother has Alzheimer’s, says there’s a growing recognition within the black community that its members can’t be absent from clinical trials and expect medicine to work as well for them as it does for other populations.

COST OF CARE

The push for clinicians to talk more about health costs
Steven Ross Johnson, Modern Healthcare, June 2
A survey of more than 400 emergency medicine professionals found that only 38% of them could accurately estimate the cost of treating three common conditions in an ER. As hospitals begin to control costs more consciously in a value-based environment, they are asking staffers to be more frugal. “There’s a paradigm shift that’s happening across the country in terms of cost of care,” said Dr. Jay Bhatt, chief medical officer for the American Hospital Association, adding that clinicians are taking an increasingly active role in fiscal responsibility—mostly as a result of uncertainties in the industry.

COMMUNITY HEALTH WORKERS

Undocumented immigrants are too scared to go to the doctor
Cole Kazdin, VICE.com, June 13
Yanez, who came to the US 24 years ago from Jalisco, Mexico, is a volunteer promotora—which literally translates from Spanish as “promoter” but is a term in Latino communities for a community health worker. Her job is to convince people that they can go to the doctor without being deported.

Bending the cost curve on high-risk patients
Shelby Livingston, Modern Healthcare, June 10
CareOregon launched its health resilience program to break down the many barriers to care experienced by its high-risk Medicaid members, whether it be housing, food or transportation. Through the program, patients are paired with a specialist who helps address issues involving social determinants of health. For Jeremie Seals, who was living out of his car, had congestive heart failure and was deemed terminally ill, that meant finding stable housing and a support system. It helped slash his ER visits—dramatically reducing costs for the plan.

INSURANCE RATES FOR 2018

Health insurers skewered for again seeking double-digit rate increases
Kyle Constable, The Connecticut Mirror, June 14
Given the Affordable Care Act’s uncertain future, officials from Anthem and ConnectiCare said their on-exchange rate requests could grow even higher in coming weeks. Tu Nguyen, Anthem’s chief actuary, said his company’s rate request would be 20 percent higher if subsidies for low-income individuals are abandoned.

Week of June 5, 2017

HEALTH EQUITY

Yale study: Patients of color more likely to get ‘low-value’ services
Amanda Cuda, Connecticut Post, June 5

It’s long been known that patients in certain minority groups have a hard time getting access to high-quality medical care. Now a new study led by a Yale University researchers shows that these patients are also more likely to get “low-value” health procedures — or those that are medically unnecessary, cost inefficient and, in some cases, potentially harmful.

African Americans are more likely than whites to develop Alzheimer’s. Why?
Marita Golden, The Washington Post, June 1

Gwendolyn and her husband were part of a troubling narrative about African Americans and Alzheimer’s, one with onerous economic and social implications. Older African Americans develop Alzheimer’s at a higher rate than any other group of older Americans. They are about twice as likely as non-Hispanic whites to develop the disease or other forms of dementia, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

COMMUNITY HEALTH WORKERS

This Intervention Helps Underserved Women Access Needed Postpartum Care
Elizabeth A. Howell, Health Affairs, June 5

Pregnancy and childbirth can exacerbate many health risks, especially among underserved women or those who have a hard time getting health care. Diabetes, hypertension, and depression are all serious health conditions that occur frequently during pregnancy and childbirth, and are more common (during pregnancy and overall) among racial and ethnic minority women.

The June 2017 issue of Health Affairs is focused on pursuing health equity. Visit their site to read other great articles from this issue.

Hartford clinic’s first ‘health coach’ steers uninsured to wellness
Vinny Vella, The Hartford Courant, June 2

“A lot of patients, when they get a medication or go see a provider, they get a ton of advice and maybe a ton of prescriptions and no one really has time to say ‘can you get these medications?'” said Anne Koneru, the health coach for Malta House of Care, a mobile free clinic in Hartford. In her appointments, she can explain complex conditions in plain terms, like using a disassembled ballpoint pen to demonstrate how an artery works. But most importantly, her lessons can be delivered in Spanish, a crucial talent when caring for the majority of Hartford’s uninsured residents.

MEDICAID

The Effects of Premiums and Cost Sharing on Low-Income Populations: Updated Review of Research Findings
Samantha Artiga, Petry Ubri, and Julia Zur, Kaiser Family Foundation, June 1

What effect do premiums and cost-sharing have on low-income people covered by Medicaid and CHIP? The Kaiser Family Foundation examined 17 years of research on the topic and presents the findings in this brief. Much of the research focused on how premium and cost-sharing affects coverage and access to care; some studies have also examined the effects on safety net providers and state budgets.

Data-For-Equity Policy Brief: Federal Medicaid Eligibility by Child Race/Ethnicity Under the Affordable Care Act and Proposed Repeal
Erin Hardy, Frank S. Li, Dolores Acevedo-Garcia, Institute for Child, Youth and Family Policy Heller School for Social Policy and Management Brandeis University

An estimated 5 million children could lose Medicaid eligibility under the proposal to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and black and Hispanic children would be disproportionately affected. This analysis looks at the number of school-aged children who meet federal minimum eligibility levels for Medicaid under current law, and under the lower thresholds proposed in the American Health Care Act.

Week of May 29, 2017

HEALTH EQUITY

Yale study: Minority breast cancer patients less likely to have genetic test 
Cara Rosner, Connecticut Health Investigative Team, May 31

A genetic test that helps doctors determine how best to treat breast cancer—and whether chemotherapy is likely to help—is significantly more likely to be administered to white women than blacks or Hispanics, a Yale study has found. “It reinforces that, at the same time we are investing in developing new treatments and new testing strategies and we’re promoting them with great excitement, we really need to double-down our efforts to eliminate disparity,” said study leader Dr. Cary Gross, a member of Yale Cancer Center and professor of medicine and epidemiology at Yale School of Medicine.

See the study abstract: http://www.jnccn.org/content/15/3/346.full

CHILDREN’S HEALTH

Advocates: Disabled children stranded in CT hospital ERs
Keith Phaneuf, The Connecticut Mirror, May 25

Insufficient services, a complex funding system and deep state budget cuts have increasingly stranded developmentally disabled children in hospital emergency departments over the past year, often for weeks at a time.

Issue brief: Enhancing early childhood systems of care in high-need communities
Child Health and Development Institute of Connecticut, May 31

This brief offers a look at a successful initiative to offer more timely and better-coordinated services to young children in New Britain, where, in 2010, 31.6 percent of children lived below the poverty level, three-quarters of third graders read below grade level, and 58 percent of children entering kindergarten were overweight or obese. The authors say New Britain Promising Starts could be a model for improving early childhood systems in other high-need communities.

Infographic: Medicaid’s role for children with special health care needs
Kaiser Family Foundation, May 24

There are 11.2 million children in the U.S. with special health care needs such as Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, and autism, and some require services that might not be covered adequately by private insurance.

PATIENT CARE

Gay and transgender patients to doctors: We’ll tell. Just ask.
Jan Hoffman, The New York Times, May 29

The movement to collect information on patients’ sexual orientation and gender identity, which some public health experts compare in significance to gathering patient data on race and ethnicity, is gaining traction. In a recent study, nearly 80 percent of providers surveyed believed that patients would refuse to disclose their sexual orientation. By contrast, only 10 percent of patients from a randomized, national sample of lesbian, gay, bisexual and heterosexual subjects said they would refuse.

Week of May 22, 2017

HEALTH EQUITY

‘I was panicked’: Deaf patients struggle to get interpreters in medical emergencies
Leila Miller, STAT, May 22

The chest pain was bad enough. Then John Paul Jebian asked staff at Baptist Hospital of Miami for an American Sign Language interpreter. They instead brought a video screen with an internet link to a remote interpreter to help him understand what the doctors and nurses were saying. Jebian, who is deaf, said a nurse struggled to set up the equipment as he anxiously wondered whether he was suffering a heart attack…A STAT review of hospital inspection reports and court records found dozens of instances around the country when deaf patients said they were not provided adequate interpreter services.

A dying mother’s desperate choice
Frank Shyong, Los Angeles Times, May 22

Taboos about mental illness pervade every culture, and research shows that Asian American families are the least likely among all racial groups to use mental health services. [His mother] did seek treatment for George after he was diagnosed with schizophrenia. But even when Asian American patients find professional help, their family and friends often struggle to speak openly about the subject, and so miss out on that important piece of informal therapy says Glenn Masuda, associate director of the Asian Pacific Family Center. And silence, experts say, can foster a deep, unhealthy relationship between a caring parent and a mentally ill child.

Video: When getting to the doctor’s office is the hardest part

The Eastern Regional Mental Health Board produced this short but insightful video on the challenges facing Connecticut residents with limited access to reliable, affordable transportation

HEALTH REFORM

CBO: GOP health bill’s impact on CT, other states would vary widely
Ana Radelat, The Connecticut Mirror, May 24

An analysis of the likely impact of the final House GOP bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act says it would leave an additional 23 million uninsured and reduce the federal deficit by $119 billion over the next decade.

Related: 10 key points from the CBO report on Obamacare repeal (Politico)

ACCESS TO CARE

Community health centers face uncertain financial future 
Cara Rosner, Connecticut Health Investigative Team, May 23

Connecticut community health centers have been able to hire staff, expand services, and renovate their facilities with f unds made available through the Affordable Care Act, but patients and clinic officials are worried that money — and health care coverage for formerly uninsured patients — is now in jeopardy. “I can’t even think about [Medicaid] going away because I don’t know what we would do,” said Sophia Stone, 43, a Hartford patient who works 25 hours a week at a small business with no employer-backed insurance available.

State funding for Danbury-area school-based health centers threatened
Mackenzie Rigg, The News-Times, May 20

For Mayara Freitas, an eighth-grader at Rogers Park Middle School in Danbury, the school-based health center is her safe haven. The Danbury school-based health center is one of five run by the Connecticut Institute for Communities, a nonprofit that also oversees a federally funded health center in downtown Danbury. Mayara is one of 710 students enrolled at the Rogers Park health center — 74 percent of the total school population. From July 1, 2016, to April 30, the center has had just over 840 visits.

Week of May 15, 2017

HEALTH EQUITY

Racial and ethnic disparities persist in sudden infant deaths
Katherine Hobson, NPR, May 15

American Indian and Alaska Native families are much more likely to have an infant die suddenly and unexpectedly, and that risk has remained higher than in other ethnic groups since public health efforts were launched to prevent sudden infant death syndrome in the 1990s. African-American babies also face a higher risk, a study finds.

Segregated living linked to higher blood pressure among blacks
Carmen Heredia Rodriguez, Kaiser Health News, May 15

For African-Americans, the isolation of living in a racially segregated neighborhood may lead to an important health issue: higher blood pressure. One cardiologist said this study’s findings reinforce the importance of understanding his patients’ environments: “I need to get to know my patients – about where they live and what it’s like – to be able to understand how they can implement my recommendations…that are easy to say and hard to implement…And certainly harder to implement if doctors don’t understand where their patients live, work and play.”

The painful truth about teeth
Mary Jordan and Kevin Sullivan, The Washington Post, May 13

As the distance between rich and poor grows in the United States, few consequences are so overlooked as the humiliating divide in dental care. High-end cosmetic dentistry is soaring, and better-off Americans spend well over $1 billion each year just to make their teeth a few shades whiter. Millions of others rely on charity clinics and hospital emergency rooms to treat painful and neglected teeth. Unable to afford expensive root canals and crowns, many simply have them pulled. Nearly 1 in 5 Americans older than 65 do not have a single real tooth left.

FEDERAL HEALTH REFORM

Three-year impacts of the Affordable Care Act: Improved medical care and health among low-income adults
Benjamin D. Sommers, Bethany Maylone, Robert J. Blendon, E. John Orav, and Arnold M. Epstein, Health Affairs, May 2017

Among adults with chronic conditions, ACA coverage was associated with better disease management and medication compliance and a significant increase in self-reported health status.

Secret sauce in Maine’s successful high-risk pool: Enough money
Patty Wight, Maine Public/Kaiser Health News, May 17

As lawmakers look to replace the Affordable Care Act, one idea under consideration – touted as a way to ensure that people with preexisting conditions can afford coverage – is an idea Maine used: the “invisible high-risk pool.” But experts caution that its track record is the result of a key ingredient missing from the proposal before Congress: enough money.

Senate considers stripping states like CT of abortion coverage
Ana Radelat, The Connecticut Mirror, May 18

As Senate Republicans meet behind closed doors this week to craft their bill to replace the Affordable Care Act, one of the most contentious issues is how it will affect the abortion coverage millions of American women now have as part of their health insurance policies.

INSURANCE AND THE EXCHANGE

Access Health extends insurers’ deadline to decide on 2018
Kyle Constable, The Connecticut Mirror, May 18

The two remaining insurers on Connecticut’s health insurance exchange now have until Sept. 1 to decide whether to return in 2018, the exchange’s CEO said Thursday. “We are hoping this extra time will allow the carriers to resolve any issues about working in our exchange,” Access Health CEO Jim Wadleigh said.

MEDICAID

Malloy proposes cutting Medicaid program that many see as cost-effective
Josh Kovner, The Hartford Courant, May 18

Malloy proposed cutting all of the state’s $3.8 million annual share of Community First Choice, which became an option for states under the Affordable Care Act. While all of these programs are threatened nationally, there has been bipartisan support locally for Community First Choice. It is intended to keep people out of costlier levels of care, and gives states 56 cents back on every dollar spent, six points higher than the 50 percent reimbursement rate of other Medicaid programs.

Medicaid cuts would disproportionately impact low-income women
Usha Ranji, Alina Salganicoff, Laurie Sobel, Caroline Rosenzweig, and Ivette Gomez, Kaiser Family Foundation, May 2017

Medicaid cuts proposed in the AHCA and public funding cuts for family planning services would disproportionately impact the 39% of low-income women enrolled in Medicaid. Changes to these programs and funding to the clinics that provide family planning services could limit the availability of contraceptive services, STI screenings and treatment, and preventive cancer screenings, along with other primary care services to low-income women.


Week of May
8, 2017

HEALTH EQUITY

Clinical trials in need of diversity 
Sujata Srinivasan, Connecticut Health Investigative Team, May 11

African Americans and other minorities are at a higher risk for certain types of cancer, yet they continue to be underrepresented in clinical trials for drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Number of lead-poisoned children drops, but more showed higher levels 
Jenifer Frank, Connecticut Health Investigative Team, May 9

Nearly 1,400 new cases of lead-poisoned children under age 6 were reported in Connecticut in 2015, a slight drop from the year before, but more children showed higher levels of poisoning…[B]lack children under 6 were twice as likely to be lead poisoned as white or Asian children in 2015, and Hispanic children were 1.6­­ times as likely to be poisoned as non-Hispanic children.

INSURANCE RATE HIKES FOR 2018

Insurers seek rate increases of up to 33.8 percent
Amanda Cuda, Connecticut Post, May 8

Experts cited many possible reasons for the steep proposed increases — including uncertainty over the fate of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

FEDERAL HEALTH REFORM

As ACA debate rages, local residents weigh in
Judy Benson, The Day, May 6

“We’re really worried,” said Jessica Offir of Coventry, who’s seen the benefits of coverage through the Medicaid expansion under the ACA for herself and members of her family, including a disabled brother who is able to work because of the health care he now receives. “This has been an absolute life saver for us.” As Offir and others able to get health insurance coverage through the ACA fear losing what they have, another group has not only been left out of those benefits, but feels as though their health insurance options have gone from bad to worse.

The most important part of the Republican health bill is mostly getting ignored: Don’t forget Medicaid.
Matthew Yglesias, Vox.com, May 9

The frenetic final days of the debate over the American Health Care Act in the House of Representatives focused largely on patients with preexisting medical conditions — but not on sweeping cuts to Medicaid, which have the potential take health care from tens of millions of Americans.

OTHER RESOURCES

10 things to know about Medicaid: Setting the facts straight
Julia Paradise, Kaiser Family Foundation, May 10

Ten facts to help inform policymakers contemplating massive changes to the program that covers one in five Americans, including low-income children, adults, seniors, and people with disabilities.

Compare proposals to replace the Affordable Care Act 
Kaiser Family Foundation

Kaiser provides a great interactive tool that allows you to compare the AHCA replacement proposal to the current ACA.

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