Health News Roundup

Coverage gaps limit care after prison, the high prevalence of cavities in minority children and more in this week’s roundup

Health equity

The high cost of taking away prisoners’ Medicaid coverage
Lydia DePillis, CNN Money, April 18
For Lori Stone, getting out of prison has always been a little nerve-racking. She’s been in and out of jail since she was 18. Every time she’s been released, she’s lost her disability benefits and her Medicaid coverage. That meant she couldn’t afford her rent or her medication for her bipolar disorder until she was able to re-enroll, which could take weeks or months — even if she went to all her appointments on time. That critical gap in safety net programs, which has set Stone up for failure again and again, is a harsh reality for millions of people released from prison every year — and one that counties are now trying to get fixed.

Fewer dental cavities found in young people, but minorities still most at risk
Erin Gabriel, CNN, April 16
Young members of minority communities continue to have the highest number of cavities as well as the highest number of untreated cavities. The highest prevalence was found among Hispanic and non-Hispanic black youth. Helping link families to oral health care is the most important step, including putting resources out there so people know they exist. Even if families are eligible for public insurance, they may not know how to get it or understand what dentist or clinic their insurance will allow.

Care Delivery

Health system expansions could carry safety risks
Amanda Cuda, Connecticut Post, April 13
According to a new article in JAMA, “after a system expansion, health care institutions may experience significant changes in patient populations, including increases in general volume and inpatients with demographic characteristics or conditions that are new to a facility.” For instance, expanding a hospital system could bring an influx of patients who don’t speak English and require interpreters, or those from a different income bracket than the system typically handles.

Teaching hospitals pledge to hire, treat more minorities
Liz Kowalczyk, Boston Globe, April 16
Two of Boston’s top teaching hospitals said they are expanding efforts to hire more black and Latino doctors, and to ensure their facilities are welcoming to minorities they treat — an attempt to address two longstanding issues in the health care industry. Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, one of the nation’s leading cancer centers, plans to hire a new leader for diversity programs and to require all faculty and administrative leaders to complete a bias awareness workshop, and has set diversity goals in its 2018 strategic plan.


Securing effective mental health care for adolescents is a struggle
Laurie Tarkan, Connecticut Health Investigative Team, April 19
Tens of thousands of adolescents in Connecticut still do not have access to effective mental health care. Poor access to care leads to undiagnosed or misdiagnosed mental illness in children and adolescents, an increase in use of emergency rooms for psychiatric issues, and is a risk factor for severe mental illness, substance abuse, failure in school, and entering the juvenile justice system.