Health News Roundup

Mental health care difficult to find, and more in this week’s roundup

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Mental health care is hard to find, especially if you have Medicare or Medicaid
Rhitu Chatterjee, NPR, April 3
As the United States faces an unprecedented mental health crisis, a new report highlights that access to care is extremely limited for a significant portion of Americans. The report found that Medicare and Medicaid have a dire shortage of mental health care providers. “On Medicare, you have 1 in 4 Medicare enrollees who are living with a mental illness,” said Meredith Seife, lead author of the report. “Yet less than half of those people are receiving treatment.” For those who can find a provider, many have to drive more than an hour to their appointments, making access difficult.

City-country mortality gap widens amid persistent holes in rural health care access
Jazmin Orozco Rodriguez, KFF Health News, April 9
Health disparities between rural and urban Americans have widened in recent decades. A report from the Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service found that rural Americans from the ages of 25 to 54 die from natural causes, like chronic diseases and cancer, at much higher rates than the same age group living in urban areas. While the difference was only 6% in 1999, by 2019 it had widened to 43%. Researchers said the gap was driven by rapid growth in the number of women living in rural areas who died from treatable or preventable diseases.

New WIC rules include more money for fruits and veggies. They also expand food choices
Jonel Aleccia, The Associated Press, April 9
The Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, commonly known as WIC, will soon emphasize more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, as well as provide more food options from different cultures. WIC helps pay for groceries for millions of low-income mothers, babies, and young children. The changes are set to take effect within two years. The new rules also remove or reduce monthly allowances for juice and cut back on allowances for milk.

Medicaid redetermination cost community health centers an average of $600K each
Annalisa Merelli, STAT News, April 8
In the year since states began the process of Medicaid redetermination, about 21% of people who were previously enrolled lost coverage. In addition to the impact on individual patients, redetermination has impacted community health centers, which serve about 15% of all Medicaid patients. The loss of patients has led to a loss of revenue– an average of $600,000 per health center. In most cases, health centers were able to avoid cutting services to patients or personnel as a result of a loss of revenue. However, losses of coverage due to redetermination have so far surpassed predictions.

One-third of low-income women miss recommended mammograms, CDC report shows
Sara Chernikoff, USA Today, April 11
A new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the more health-related social needs a woman had, the less likely she was to get a mammogram. Health-related social needs could be lack of emotional support, food insecurity, or lack of transportation. The study also found that women without health insurance and women who faced cost barriers to getting screened were less likely to get mammograms. Each year, about 40,000 women in the U.S. die from breast cancer. Black women have the highest rate of death from breast cancer. Experts said mammograms can help save lives.