Health News Roundup

Certifying community health workers, limiting the incentives for workplace wellness, and more

health equity

The relationship of race to community health
Deidre McPhillips, U.S. News & World Report, September 25
A decade and a half ago, a landmark study explored how racial and ethnic minorities face disparities in health care quality, even after accounting for socioeconomic differences. Such trends have persisted for decades, with deadly effects. A recent analysis of U.S. News Healthiest Communities data found there is a clear link between community health and well-being – meaning a place’s overall performance in measurements of health, such as life expectancy and access to care, and in areas connected to health, such as economic performance and natural environment – and the racial and ethnic makeup of a community.

Sickle cell: The last health care frontier for Black lives
Momo Chang, East Bay Express, September 12
An estimated 100,000 people in the U.S. live with sickle cell disease. The genetic disease — which primarily affects African Americans — changes the shape of a person’s red blood cells, which are responsible for transferring oxygen throughout the body. While sickle cell received widespread attention in the ’60s and ’70s during the Civil Rights and Black Power movements, the disease has mostly fallen off the radar of the general public. Because the disease primarily affects African Americans, the dearth of treatment options is considered a legacy of slavery and racism.

health care

Blood, sweat and workplace wellness: Where to draw the line on incentives
Julie Appleby, Kaiser Health News, September 24
Workplace wellness programs that offer employees a financial carrot for undergoing health screenings, sticking to exercise regimens or improving their cholesterol levels have long been controversial. Next year, they may become even more contentious. Two recent court rulings have cast uncertainty over what is the appropriate limit for financial incentives that employers can offer workers to participate in programs that require clinical testing or disclosure of personal health care

community health workers

Bringing legitimacy to a workforce: the road to certification for community health workers
Julia Werth, The Connecticut Mirror, September 26
A recommendation for certifying community health workers was recently developed by the State Innovation Model committee. The report recommends two pathways to certification through the Department of Public Health, including one with standardized education and training and one that takes into account previous work experience. The hope is that if the community health worker workforce is professionalized through certification, insurance companies will begin paying for their work, creating a more sustainable form of funding.