Health News Roundup

Fertility treatments out of reach for low-income families, 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.

If you’re poor, fertility treatment can be out of reach
Michelle Andrews, KFF Health News, Feb. 26
When Mary Delgado was having trouble getting pregnant, she found out she had endometriosis and in vitro fertilization was her only option. She was enrolled in Medicaid, and the roughly $20,000 price tag for IVF seemed unattainable. People with lower incomes, often minorities, are more likely to be covered by Medicaid or basic insurance plans that do not cover fertility treatments. “This is really sort of standing out as a sore thumb in a nation that would like to claim that it cares for the less fortunate and it seeks to do anything it can for them,” said Eli Adashi, former president of the Society for Reproductive Endocrinologists. Efforts to add coverage for fertility care to Medicaid face pushback.

As Medicaid shrinks, clinics for the poor are trying to survive
Noah Weiland, The New York Times, Feb. 24
Appointment cancellations and financial distress have become a constant at Bethesda Pediatrics, a nonprofit medical clinic in East Texas that is heavily dependent on Medicaid. Families have faced a loss of coverage since a policy that barred states from kicking people off of Medicaid during the pandemic ended last spring. Since then, enrollment has dropped by almost ten million, including around four million children. The loss of coverage is also threatening the financial stability of health centers that rely on Medicaid and federal grants. At Bethesda, that means a “month-to-month game of survival.”

Midwife-assisted home births are on the rise. High-risk deliveries are too
Elizabeth Cohen, STAT News, Feb. 23
While home births make up less than 2% of all births in the U.S., more and more people are opting to give birth outside the hospital setting, even when they have high-risk pregnancies. In its guidance, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said that vaginal births after c-sections, pregnancies in which the baby is not in a head-down position, and pregnancies with twins or other multiples, are “an absolute contraindication to planned home birth.” While the number of home births in these high-risk situations are still relatively small, they have increased dramatically in recent years. Experts suggest a lack of trust in hospital care is likely behind the increase.

Latino patients with respiratory illnesses 5 times more likely to be oversedated
Emi Tuyetnhi Tran, NBC News, Feb. 23
A recent study found that Latino patients who have been hospitalized with respiratory illnesses are five times as likely to be oversedated than their non-Latino white counterparts. Deep sedation while on a ventilator is a known risk factor for worse outcomes or death. Researchers found that no matter which hospitals they went to or what their condition was, Latino patients were more likely to be oversedated than the average patient across the board. In order to assess a patient’s level of sedation, the patient must be able to communicate with the medical staff. “You can imagine, if you have difficulty communicating with someone, if they speak a different language, it’s really hard to get a good sedation assessment,” said Thomas Valley, one of the study authors.

Program aims to increase number of Spanish-speaking social workers in the state
Briceyda Landaverde, NBC Connecticut, Feb. 28
A new Master of Social Work program at UConn, Connecticut ¡Adelante!, seeks to increase the number of bilingual social workers trained to meet the mental health needs of Latino children and families in Connecticut. Students are placed in agencies and school districts that have large Spanish-speaking communities for their field work hours. Puerto Rican and Latino Studies Professor Lisa Werkmeister-Rozas said young people are the fastest growing population within the Latino community in the state. “Over 23% between the ages of 5 and 17, so right there you have a population that is in need when we talk about individuals, families, children’s groups.”