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Health News Roundup

CT legislature OKs reimbursement for community health workers, and more in this week’s roundup

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Medicaid reimbursement for community health workers gets OK 
Katy Golvala and Jenna Carlesso, The Connecticut Mirror, June 7
The Connecticut legislature passed a bill that included a last minute amendment that taps the Department of Social Services to design and implement Medicaid reimbursement for community health workers (CHWs). Currently, the funding for CHWs is piecemeal and largely sustained through grants, which can be insufficient and unreliable. Medicaid reimbursement provides a reliable stream of funding that will enable more organizations to hire CHWs full-time.

The Canada wildfires are exposing the harmful effects – and health inequities – of air pollution
Isabella Cueto, STAT, June 7
Over 100 million people in the Northeast and Midwest have been under alerts for unhealthy air quality as a result of the wildfires in Canada. People who live in low-income communities are disproportionately affected by low-quality air, typically because of their proximity to major polluters, like factories, ports, and highways. But smoke from wildfires can also pose particular risks to marginalized communities.

Black men were likely underdiagnosed with lung problems because of bias in software, study suggests
Mike Stobbe, The Associated Press, June 1
Racial bias built into a common medical test for lung function is likely leading to fewer Black patients getting care for breathing problems, according to a new study. As many as 40% more Black male patients in the study might have been diagnosed with breathing problems if the current computer software was changed. Doctors have long discussed the potential problems caused by race-based assumptions built into diagnostic software. This study offers a real-world example of that.

AI in medicine needs to be carefully deployed to counter bias – and not entrench it 
Ryan Levi and Dan Gorenstein, Tradeoffs, June 6
As promising practices in artificial intelligence (AI) in health care emerge, some doctors caution that the use of algorithms may perpetuate long-standing racial inequities in how care is delivered. The data that these algorithms are built on often reflect inequities and biases that have long plagued U.S. health care. While best practices to combat bias in AI have begun to emerge, there is a lack of funding and clear regulatory guidance to help effectively mitigate bias.

No one knows how many LGBTQ Americans die by suicide
Azeen Ghorayshi, The New York Times, June 1
Sobering studies have shown that LGBTQ people have high rates of suicidal thoughts and attempts. But because most death investigators do not collect data on sexuality or gender identity, no one knows how many LGBTQ people die by suicide each year in the United States. Death investigators in Utah are among a handful of groups trying to change that.