Health News Roundup

CT colon cancer screening program is first of its kind, and more in this week’s roundup

To get these headlines delivered to your inbox every week, sign up for our weekly health news roundup.

Federal panel prescribes new mental health strategy to curb maternal deaths
Cheryl Platzman Weinstock, KFF Health News, May 16
Milagros Aquino was struggling with finding a place to live and adjusting to life in Bridgeport when she moved from Peru in 2023. She said those feelings got worse when she got pregnant in May of that year. “I was so sad and lying in bed all day. I was really lost and just surviving.” She is not alone. Perinatal depression affects as many as 20% of women in the United States during pregnancy, the postpartum period, or both. The root causes of the problem include racial and socioeconomic disparities in maternal care. This week, the Task Force on Maternal Mental Health recommended creating maternity care centers and taking other steps to address the problem.

A program to screen for colon cancers in CT prisons is attracting national attention
Sujata Srinivasan, Connecticut Public Radio, May 10
The Connecticut Department of Correction is providing people in prisons with colorectal cancer screenings at no cost. Since the program’s launch last year, hundreds of people have taken advantage of it. The screenings have helped more than a dozen people find pre-cancerous polyps. “We’re the first program in the country to actually take this dilemma of getting people screened, by the horns,” said Dr. Maurizio Nichele, a colorectal surgeon at the DOC. The program, which is attracting national attention, helps avoid the challenge of getting incarcerated people to hospitals for invasive testing.

New breast cancer genes found in women of African ancestry, may improve risk assessment
Nancy Lapid, Reuters, May 13
A large study identified twelve breast cancer genes in women of African ancestry, which may one day help better predict their risk for the disease. The findings also highlight potential risk differences from women of European descent. Researchers said as a result of the study, they have developed a breast cancer risk score for women of African ancestry that is significantly more accurate than currently available tools. Black women in the United States have higher rates of breast cancer before age 50, a higher incidence of harder-to-treat breast cancers, and a 42% higher breast cancer death rate than white women.

Millions of dollars of CT opioid settlement money disbursed to diversionary, prison treatment programs
Sujata Srinivasan, Connecticut Public Radio, May 15
The Connecticut Opioid Settlement Advisory Committee approved funding for a pretrial diversionary program for people with substance use disorders. The Treatment Pathway Program offers services such as mental health treatment and housing assistance, mainly for those with nonviolent offenses. The program received $3.8 million for three years to increase access to medication for opioid use disorder. Those transitioning back into society after being incarcerated are 8 to 11 times more likely than the general population to suffer from an overdose after leaving prison.

Medicaid ‘unwinding’ decried as biased against disabled people
Daniel Chang, KFF Health News, May 14
According to advocates, people with disabilities who are on Medicaid are losing benefits with little to no notice, getting bad advice when they call for information, and facing major disruptions in care due to the unwinding process. The National Health Law Program, a nonprofit that advocates for low-income and underserved people, has filed civil rights complaints with two federal agencies alleging discrimination against people with disabilities. “Instead of monitoring and ensuring that people with disabilities could make their way through the process, they sort of treated them like everyone else with Medicaid,” said Elizabeth Edwards, a senior attorney for the organization.