Health News Roundup

Meriden community health worker provides help beyond health care, and more in this week’s roundup

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Community health worker provides social link between patients and health care
Cris Villalonga-Vivoni, Record-Journal, Jan. 16
When Evelyn Nieves was searching for a new apartment after being evicted, she turned to her community health worker Leonarda Ortiz. Ortiz was already helping her learn how to manage her type 2 diabetes, anxiety, and depression. Like many community health workers, Ortiz is a confidant, a mentor, and a guide for many in her community.

‘I don’t want to die’: Fighting maternal mortality among Black women
Erica L. Green, The New York Times, Jan. 18
After Tara Ervin lost her sister to a serious complication of pregnancy that went untreated, she vowed to make sure that other families didn’t have to endure similar trauma. Today, she is a certified doula at a childhood development nonprofit, Parents as Teachers. The organization is in a network of more than one dozen home visiting programs that saw a large increase in federal funding passed late last year. As a result, the organization is seeking to extend doula support to predominantly Black, low-income mothers who would not otherwise be able to afford it.

Pandemic measures brought a reduction in medical debt
Adriel Bettelheim, Axios, Jan. 17
According to new data, there was a 3.2 percent decline in the number of people struggling to pay medical bills in 2021 compared to 2019. Researchers said that pandemic relief legislation may have indirectly softened the blow of medical debt by providing direct monetary payments, increasing the percentage of people covered by insurance, and expanding eligibility for subsidies in Affordable Care Act markets. Yet despite these measures, racial disparities remained in the percentage of people struggling to pay medical bills.

Sickle cell cure brings mix of anxiety and hope
Gina Kolata, The New York Times, Jan. 17
Two drug companies are seeking approval from the Food and Drug Administration for gene therapies that may provide a cure for sickle cell disease. The cost for the current treatment – which can be more than $1 million – is spread out over a lifetime. The cost for gene therapy must be paid all at once – leaving many people concerned about the high price of treatment for a potential cure.

After a brief pandemic reprieve, rural workers return to life without paid leave
Jazmin Orozco Rodriguez, Kaiser Health News, Jan. 18
The COVID-19 pandemic steered attention toward paid leave policies as millions of people contracted the virus. Federal law temporarily required employers to give workers a minimum of two weeks of paid sick leave, but that requirement expired at the end of 2020. While private employers increasingly have paid sick leave policies, workers in certain industries, part-time workers, and lower-wage earners are less likely to have paid sick leave.