Health News Roundup

Health disparities in every U.S. state, and more in this week’s roundup

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Health disparities and premature deaths run deep, even in best-performing states
Usha Lee McFarling, STAT, April 18
Every state in the U.S. has racial and ethnic disparities in their health care systems. A new report found dramatic disparities for Black, Hispanic, and Indigenous Americans, even in states considered to have the best overall health care performance, such as Connecticut. In all states, white and Asian residents had the best health outcomes. The premature death rate was higher for Black populations in nearly every state. Authors of the report said analyses of health system performance that average all groups together mask the gaps that exist within each state.

Native Americans have shorter life spans. Better health care isn’t the only answer
Arielle Zionts, KFF Health News, April 17
Native Americans tend to die much earlier than white Americans. According to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, their median age at death was 14 years younger. Many experts agree that social and economic forces are behind the low life expectancy. Experts argue that in addition to better health care, there also needs to be more community-based interventions. While private insurers and Medicaid programs are covering more and more of those types of services, they don’t cover all of them and they aren’t reaching everyone who qualifies.

‘Miracle’ weight-loss drugs could have reduced health disparities. Instead they got worse
Karen Kaplan, The Los Angeles Times, April 15
New medications, known by their brand names Ozempic, Wegovy, Mounjaro, and Zepbound, have revolutionized weight-loss and raised the possibility of reversing the country’s obesity crisis. U.S. obesity rates are consistently higher for Black and Latino Americans. While the weight-loss medications have the potential to reduce health disparities, some doctors who treat obesity worry the medications are making disparities worse. “I feel like if a group of patients has a disproportionate burden, they should have increased access to these medicines,” said Dr. Lauren Eberly, a cardiologist and researcher at the University of Pennsylvania. Cost is one of the largest barriers.

Black Maternal Health Week shines light on disparities
Kristal Dixon, Axios, April 16
This week was recognized as Black Maternal Health Week, a campaign aimed at drawing attention to the experiences and voices of Black mothers, who are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white mothers. The annual event highlights the disparities that exist and urges government and health officials to make changes that can improve health outcomes for Black mothers. “”I think this is an opportunity for us to know that we all are a piece of the puzzle to help our pregnant women and just really educating ourselves about the maternal health journey,” said Taura White, associate vice president of population health and health equity at CareSource, a nonprofit that administers Medicaid plans.

Nearly 1 in 4 adults dumped from Medicaid are now uninsured, survey finds
Phil Galewitz, KFF Health News, April 12
Nearly a quarter of adults disenrolled from Medicaid in the past year say they are now uninsured. That is according to a national survey of adults whose Medicaid eligibility was reviewed during the unwinding that began last spring as pandemic-era protections started to expire. The survey also found that nearly half of people who lost their coverage signed back up weeks or months later, suggesting they should have never been dropped in the first place. Going without insurance, even for a short period of time, can lead people to delay seeking care.