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Health News Roundup

Why the next big hope for Alzheimer’s might not help most Black patients, and more in this week’s roundup

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Medicaid is ‘unwinding’ in CT, but most residents still have coverage
Katy Golvala, The Connecticut Mirror, July 12
Three months after the end of a pandemic policy that prevented states from kicking people off Medicaid, most Connecticut enrollees still qualify for coverage. The federal government allowed people to stay on Medicaid during the public health emergency, even if their income rose above the limits. On March 31, that measure ended, and the state is reassessing eligibility for Medicaid enrollees in a 12-month process known as “unwinding.” Nearly 75% of the roughly 274,000 residents whose eligibility was assessed in April, May and June kept their coverage. Still, over 62,000 people have lost Medicaid.

Why the next big hope for Alzheimer’s might not help most Black patients
Arthur Allen, KFF Health News, July 6
The FDA has approved what many scientists and doctors believe is the first drug to show promise in slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. But some critics worry the rollout of the drug, lecanemab, could aggravate disparities in elder care. Of the 859 patients infused with the drug in the trial, only 20 were Black, and many Black volunteers were screened out of the trial because they did not meet the criteria. In addition, people of color tend to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at later stages, which would exclude them from using the drug, which was designed and approved to treat early-stage Alzheimer’s.

How asking people about more than their health can lead to better health
Sujata Srinivasan, Connecticut Public Radio, June 7
Student volunteers at UConn Health are identifying and working to address barriers that prevent some people from getting diagnosed and treated. Medical students and undergraduates ask patients in waiting rooms a set of socio-economic questions to find out which unmet needs might prevent them from accessing health care. The needs include not having a job, housing instability, lack of transportation, and food insecurity, which collectively pose a 101% higher risk of hospitalization, UConn researchers found.

A catalyst for childhood obesity: How racism has ‘huge implications’ for health trajectory 
Karen Weintraub, USA Today, July 11
A large body of research connects racial discrimination to poor health outcomes, and a new study found children as young as 9 were more likely to meet the definition of obesity if they faced racism a year earlier. Children of color are “able to see that they are being treated unfairly based on their skin tone,” said co-author Adolfo Cuevas, a professor at the NYU School of Global Public Health. “And this has huge, huge implications for their life course trajectory when it comes to their health.”

Campaign aims to create “world’s largest library” of diverse medical illustrations 
Marina E. Franco, Axios, July 11
Chidiebere Ibe, whose illustration of a Black fetus went viral in 2021, is helping launch a campaign to diversify images used in medical textbooks and diagnosis manuals. The scarcity of such illustrations is an example of — and can lead to — racial inequities in health care. Studies have found about half of U.S. medical students learn visually, making illustrations a key component of their education. Yet only 5% of medical images show dark skin.