Health News Roundup

Latinos face health setbacks under proposed language rules and more in this week’s roundup


Medical schools are starting to diversify. But they’re learning hard lessons along the way
Leah Samuel, STAT, June 17
The newest graduating classes from American medical schools include more students from underrepresented populations, the result in part of a significant change in 2009 by the organization that accredits medical schools. There’s still more to do before new physicians more closely reflect the communities they serve, but 10 years after the policy change, medical schools have learned a lot. Here are some of the key lessons.


New CT cost caps could chip away at rising health care spending
Natalie Missakian, Hartford Business Journal, June 17
When state regulators approved two recent hospital mergers and acquisitions, both deals came with major strings attached. As part of the merger between Western Connecticut Health Network and New York’s Health Quest Systems (now called Nuvance Health) and Bridgeport Hospital’s $66 million acquisition of Milford Hospital, the newly combined organizations agreed to health care cost price caps tied to the Consumer Price Index — a first for Connecticut and one of the most stringent cost controls ever placed on hospital combinations here. The state’s Office of Health Strategy said it imposed the caps amid growing concerns about the spiraling cost of health care. The limitations, modeled in part after reforms in Massachusetts and other states, could be a powerful lever for Connecticut regulators in their attempt to suppress the rising cost of health care, particularly if lawmakers decide to build on that authority in the years ahead.


Latinos face health setbacks under proposed changes to language rules
Carmen Heredia Rodriguez, Kaiser Health News, June 19
A federal regulation demands that certain health care organizations provide patients who have limited English skills a written notice of free translation services. But the Trump administration has proposed a change to ease those regulations and also no longer require that directions be given to patients on how they can report discrimination. The government acknowledged that the proposed change would lead to fewer people with limited English skills accessing health care and fewer reports of discrimination. But it also questioned the need for these notices, pointing out that some health organizations spend money to accommodate a small contingent of language speakers.

Q&A: Good health goes beyond having a doctor and insurance, says AMA’s equity chief
Carmen Heredia Rodriguez, Kaiser Health News, June 19
Dr. Aletha Maybank was recently named the first chief health equity officer for the American Medical Association. In that job, she is responsible for implementing practices among doctors across the country to help end disparities in care. “Health equity and social determinants of health have become jargon. But we are talking about people’s lives. We were all born equal. We are clearly not all treated equal, but we all deserve equity,” she said during an interview in which she discussed the many factors that influence health and her new role.


Medicaid expansion linked to reduction in child neglect
Bruce Japsen, Forbes, June 14
The expansion of Medicaid benefits has been linked to a reduction in child neglect in states that expanded such health coverage under the Affordable Care Act, bolstering “parental financial stability and access to mental health care,” new research indicates. The study’s authors looked at state data from 2010 through 2016 for 31 states and the District of Columbia that expanded Medicaid and the 19 states that did not expand Medicaid during that period. “Medicaid expansion was associated with a reduction in the reported child neglect rate (422 fewer cases of reported neglect per 100,000 children younger than 6),” the authors wrote.