Health News Roundup

Lack of attention for a disease mainly affecting people of color, Latinos hit harder by the opioid epidemic, and more in this week’s roundup

Health equity

Sickle cell patients suffer as disparities in care and research persist
Peggy McCarthy, Connecticut Health Investigative Team, May 10
While sickle cell affects some 100,000 Americans, about one in 365 African Americans and one out of 16,300 Hispanics, it receives little research, funding and attention. “Quite honestly, because this primarily affects people of color in this country, some of the disparities in care and research dollars and pharmaceutical interests are intertwined with our country’s history of the marginalization experienced by people of color,” said Dr. Biree Andemariam, the UConn program director.

How training doctors in implicit bias could save the lives of black mothers
Elizabeth Chuck, NBC News, May 11
Black women are three to four times more likely than white women to die of pregnancy-related causes. Some suggest the disparity is at least partly caused by institutional racism in our society and health care system, conscious or unconscious. Physicians have a long way to go to overcome stereotypes, and not just when it comes to childbirth. Studies have shown that black patients are often prescribed less pain medication than white patients who present the same complaints. And black patients with signs of heart problems get referrals for advanced cardiovascular procedures less often than white patients with the same symptoms.

Opioid overdoses are rising faster among Latinos than whites or blacks. Why?
Martha Bebinger, WBUR, May 3
Julio Cesar Santiago, who is Puerto Rican, has reason to worry. Data on the opioid epidemic in Massachusetts, shows the overdose death rate for Latinos has doubled in three years, growing at twice the rate of any other racial group. State officials say they don’t know why. But interviews with current and former drug users, addiction treatment providers and physicians reveal a range of problems that put Latinos at greater risk of an overdose and death.

From the foundation

Report: CT’s Medicaid expansion increased coverage, care access
John Stearns, Hartford Business Journal, May 16
The decision by Connecticut leaders to expand Medicaid in 2010 led to a significant reduction in the state’s uninsured rate and created a significant source of coverage for preventive health services and behavioral health care, according to a new report released by the Connecticut Health Foundation. The report examines the impact of HUSKY D, as the Medicaid expansion is known, with profiles of individuals covered and data on how members have used their coverage.