Health News Roundup

Access Health CT open enrollment for health insurance opens Nov. 1, and more in this week’s roundup

Access Health CT open enrollment begins Nov. 1
Cara Rosner, Connecticut Health Investigative Team, October 22
As Connecticut readies for open enrollment for health insurance beginning November 1, those who have lost their jobs or have recently moved to Connecticut can get coverage now through Access Health CT. For those who don’t have a qualifying event for special enrollment—such as getting married, losing job-based coverage, giving birth or adopting a child—open enrollment for 2021 health insurance plans begins Nov. 1 and runs through Dec. 15. In addition to virtual and telephone enrollment help, six enrollment centers will be open for in-person appointments. Reservations will be required at the sites, which will follow strict COVID safety guidelines, and walk-ins will not be allowed.
Related: Even with ACA’s fate in flux, open enrollment starts soon. Here’s what’s new, Julie Appleby, Kaiser Health News, October 22

What contributes to Louisiana’s high maternal mortality rate? The distance to care, research says
Emily Woodruff,, October 20
Louisiana has among the highest rate of death for pregnant women in the U.S. One of the reasons, according to new research, is the lack of maternal care in many areas of the state, which forces women to travel long distances for routine checkups, emergency visits and deliveries. Research found that women in these “maternity care deserts” had a threefold higher risk for deaths directly related to the pregnancy, such as severe bleeding or preeclampsia, a dangerous complication involving high blood pressure.

Obamacare: What’s at stake if the high court strikes down the law
Cara Rosner, Connecticut Health Investigative Team, October 22
Striking down the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, would have a large-scale impact on the country’s health care system and the lives of millions of people who have gained health insurance coverage through the health insurance exchanges and the expansion of Medicaid.  One of the most-popular provisions – protecting people with pre-existing medical conditions – would be eliminated along with coverage for many essential benefits.

How racism amplifies COVID-19 risk for everyone
Phillip Atiba Goff, Amelia M. Haviland, Tracey Lloyd, Mikaela Meyer, and Rachel Warren, Vox, October 26
The concentration of COVID-19 casualties in vulnerable Black and brown communities, while unconscionable, has not been a surprise. Systems like policing and low-wage labor, trap a disproportionate number of people from these communities in unsafe interactions. People of color are more likely to be stopped, arrested, and jailed. They are also more likely to work in low-wage jobs classified as essential, without the ability to take time off, get adequate personal protective equipment, or avoid exposure to people who refuse to wear masks. Those elements, combined with other socioeconomic factors such as segregated housing and lack of health care, suggest that Black and brown Americans will contract and die from COVID-19 at much higher rates than their white peers.

Podcast: Good intentions
Dan Gorenstein, Tradeoffs, October 27
With communities of color disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, drugmakers and public health officials are placing an unprecedented emphasis on diversity in vaccine clinical trials. While there are no specific diversity mandates from the FDA, some of the companies running vaccine clinical trials say they are being told to increase minority representation in their trials and say they are committed to diverse participation. Jonathan Jackson, who founded and directs the Community Access, Recruitment and Engagement Center at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, outlines a few strategies to increase diversity in clinical trials.