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Health News Roundup

Fixing inequities in the kidney transplant waitlist, and more in this week’s roundup

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For years, Black people have waited longer for kidney transplants because of their race. A new rule aims to fix that.
Tom Avril, The Philadelphia Inquirer, June 11
Earlier this year, Katherine Anderson got a message. It said that, in the past, doctors had estimated her kidney function with a formula that included race as a variable, making her and other Black patients appear healthier than they really were. When the hospital used a newer, race-neutral formula to recalculate Anderson’s kidney function, it found she should have been added to the waitlist for a kidney transplant more than five years ago. Under a new federal requirement, hospitals are going through their waitlists to find patients like Anderson, whose waits for a life-saving transplant should be shorter.

More than 45,000 people lost Medicaid coverage in Connecticut in April and May
Sujata Srinivasan, Connecticut Public Radio, June 12
In Connecticut, 46,140 people lost Medicaid coverage in April and May after the end of a federal policy that allowed people to stay covered regardless of income eligibility. Connecticut’s disenrollment rate is at the lower end of states that have reported data, but is higher than what was projected. Connecticut has among the highest rates of people being disenrolled for procedural reasons, such as DSS not having their address and being unable to get it after repeated attempts.

Dental therapists help patients in need of care avoid the brush-off
Christina Saint Louis, KFF Health News, June 9
Dental therapists are licensed providers who offer basic care traditionally provided by dentists, including fillings and simple tooth extractions. Over a dozen states have turned to them to increase access to oral health care, and federal advisers say at least eight more are considering doing the same. Some states have deployed therapists to benefit underserved populations, such as rural residents, Medicaid recipients, and Native American tribes.

Chronic lifeguard shortage serves as springboard to address racial inequities
Michelle Andrews, KFF Health News, June 12
Drowning is the leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 4, and the second-most common type of unintentional injury death for kids 5 to 14. Racial disparities play a significant role in drowning deaths, particularly in swimming pools: Black children ages 10 to 14 drown in pools at a rate 7.6 times that of their white peers. Experts say this reflects the long history of segregation in public pools. Now, as cities and towns make decisions about which pools to open, many do so with a clear intention that they be accessible to poor or minority kids.

Opinion: How predominantly white hospital leadership teams hurt care for people of color 
Tiffany Cornwall, STAT, June 13
Last year, my father, a Jamaican immigrant with Medicaid, died from a heart attack. He was 63. As he received care, he expressed discomfort with the predominantly white teams handling his case. Though he had complained about occasional chest pains, no one examined his heart. While lots of attention has been paid to whiteness of physicians providing hands-on care, far too little time has been spent on the lack of representation of underrepresented groups in leadership roles.