Health News Roundup

Lessons from a city that cut overdose rates, how immigration policy could influence children’s health care coverage, and more


Living apart, coming undone
Joaquin Sapien, ProPublica, Tom Jennings for Frontline, December 6
Under a landmark settlement, an ambitious housing program promised a better life for mentally ill New Yorkers. But some of the most vulnerable slip through the cracks. It begins with the assumption that most people in adult homes — group facilities that often house hundreds of residents — can live on their own with the right help. But more than 200 interviews and thousands of pages of medical, social work and housing records, show that for some residents, the sudden shift from an institution to independence has proved perilous, and even deadly.

For the poor, Obamacare can reduce late rent payment
Kriston Capps, CityLab, December 4
A new study finds that access to subsidized health insurance dramatically boosts financial outcomes. Those who were able to acquire health insurance under Obamacare were 25 percent less likely to miss paying their rent or mortgage on time. The paper focuses on adults who fall into the “coverage gap”—people living in non-expansion states who make too much money to qualify for Medicaid, yet too little to get insurance subsidies.


This city’s overdose deaths have plunged. Can others learn from it?
Abby Goodnough, The New York Times, November 25
Montgomery County, Ohio, which includes Dayton, had one of the highest overdose-death rates in the nation last year. Now that rate has plunged. Among the reasons: Medicaid expansion hugely increased access to treatment. There is more support for people when treatment ends. Police and public health officials are working together.

Millions of U.S. citizen children risk losing health insurance under rule change affecting immigrants, study says
Dianne Solis, The Dallas Morning News, December 4
A proposed rule change affecting immigrants seeking green cards could put medical insurance coverage at risk for millions of U.S. citizen children with noncitizen parents. Under the proposed changes, immigrants who are “likely at any time” to be deemed overly dependent on federally funded services could be ineligible to get visas and green cards that give them legal permanent residency. U.S. citizen children of noncitizens are eligible for Medicaid coverage. Nationally, 6.8 million citizen children with noncitizen parents are estimated to be enrolled in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program. “Fear over immigration-related repercussions could lead noncitizen parents to drop Medicaid or CHIP coverage for their children,” report says.


Zip codes don’t kill people, racism does
Gabriela Alcalde, Health Affairs Blog, November 29
One increasingly common message is that our health is more likely to be determined by our zip code than our genetic code. Inequity by zip codes: It communicates much of the complexity in a simple way, it is memorable, and it elicits an emotional reaction, but it fails to speak the truth we need to be calling out. The research on zip codes and health is useful and compelling, but it is the wrong message for those committed to equity. The problem with the zip codes message is that it continues to obscure, regardless of intention, one of the strongest predictors of health, life expectancy, and various socioeconomic measures in the United States: race.