Health News Roundup

Improving U.S. maternal health through a change in Medicaid policy, and more in this week’s roundup

Rachel Bluth, VICE, November 12
Madavia Johnson experienced severe postpartum anxiety last year after giving birth to her son, Donald. She was eligible for Medicaid while pregnant but lost her eligibility 60 days after he was born. It would be 8 months before Johnson was able to see a doctor. The U.S. is one of only three countries where maternal deaths are on the rise, yet new moms are still losing their Medicaid health coverage shortly after delivery. Beyond protecting women during the medically vulnerable time after they deliver, experts think increasing Medicaid could go a long way toward addressing the racial disparities that exist in maternal mortality rates.
Michael Ollove, Stateline, an initiative of The Pew Charitable Trusts, November 13
The politics surrounding the issue of Medicaid expansion have changed dramatically in the past five years. Republican officeholders have shown an increasing willingness to support expansion. Serious efforts are underway in Kansas, Missouri, North Carolina and Oklahoma that could add them to the 36 states, plus Washington, D.C., that have opted to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. And the benefits of expansion have been thoroughly researched and publicized. Millions of Americans have gained coverage in expansion states, while rural and safety net hospitals have benefited from the additional federal resources. A study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that at least 19,200 lives of adults aged 55 to 64 had been saved in states that had expanded Medicaid between 2014 and 2017.
Matt Pilon, Hartford Business Journal, November 12
It appears that one Connecticut hospital stands alone when it comes to pursuing patients in small claims court over unpaid medical bills, according to a new analysis from Victor Villagra, a UConn Health researcher. Danbury Hospital was responsible for nearly half of the 13,824 total medical debt cases filed in 2016 in the state. In response to Villagra’s report, Danbury Hospital told the Hartford Business Journal that it’s reviewing its debt-collection policies.
Ray Hardman, WNPR, November 7 
Experts in Connecticut say racial profiling can result in poor health outcomes and even post-traumatic stress disorder. Being racially profiled can cause high levels of stress and anxiety. Negative health outcomes weren’t limited only to people who had direct contact with police. The poor health effects of racial profiling can spill over into the general population as well.
Jeffrey Young, HuffPost, November 14
Dental care has become big business in the Mexican border town of Los Algodones over the last two decades, so much so that visitors have taken to calling it “Molar City.” An estimated 600 dentists operate out of hundreds of clinics that fill the 1-square-mile town, which is home to fewer than 5,000 permanent residents. Twenty-three percent of Americans, or about 75 million people, have no dental insurance, and even those with insurance face large out of pocket costs when it comes to dental care. Medical tourism all comes down to costs. The savings can be significant. A bridge containing four implants to replace lost teeth cost an average of $21,500 in the United States while the average cost in Mexico is $9,300, not counting travel expenses.