Health News Roundup

More states using Medicaid for housing aid, and more in this week’s roundup

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Is housing health care? State Medicaid programs increasingly say ‘yes’
Angela Hart, KFF Health News, Feb. 6
At least 19 states are directing money from Medicaid into housing aid to address the nation’s growing homelessness epidemic. California for example, is spending $12 billion on a Medicaid initiative to help homeless patients find and pay for housing. Homelessness jumped 12% in the U.S. last year. While the goal of the housing aid is to improve health and save money by keeping people out of nursing homes, hospitals, and jail, evidence supporting that argument is mixed. “We know health care can’t solve all the problems, but we also know that housing agencies are maxed out and we have enormous need to help stabilize people,” said Alex Demyan, assistant director of Arizona’s Medicaid agency.

What Lamont’s budget proposal would mean for health care in CT
Jenna Carlesso, Katy Golvala, and Keith M. Phaneuf, The Connecticut Mirror, Feb. 7
Gov. Ned Lamont’s budget proposal for the fiscal year includes a list of health care priorities. Oversight of hospitals, nursing homes and pharmaceutical companies topped the list as well as a proposal to shift some residents from Medicaid plans to free coverage through Connecticut’s health insurance exchange. The governor’s proposal would decrease the eligibility threshold for the state’s Medicaid HUSKY A program from 160% of the federal poverty level to 138%. This would affect most adults but not pregnant women or children.

Sharon Hospital maternity services must stay open, state rules
Katy Golvala, The Connecticut Mirror, Feb. 5
The Connecticut Office of Health Strategy made its final decision to deny the closure of labor and delivery services at Sharon Hospital. The decision stated that Nuvance Health, which owns the hospital, failed to prove that the proposal would improve quality, accessibility and cost effectiveness of health care delivery in the region. Nuvance Health was looking to close the unit due to low birth volume, the area’s aging population, and staffing challenges. This was one of three applications to close labor and delivery units in rural areas of the state since 2020.

The effect of police violence on Black Americans’ health is documented in 2 new studies
Carla K. Johnson, The Associated Press, Feb. 5
Two new studies looked at the health effects of police violence on Black Americans. The first found a pattern of sleep disturbances in Black people in the six months following a police-involved killing. While the study cannot prove cause and effect researchers made adjustments for age, sex, education and other factors that might account for differences and still found the pattern of more sleep disturbance reports from Black people after police-involved deaths. The second study found racial disparities in injuries that occurred when Tasers and similar weapons were used by police to incapacitate people.

Black women under 35 with high blood pressure may have triple the risk of stroke, study says
Claretta Bellamy, NBC News, Feb. 1
Black women are twice as likely to experience a stroke compared to white women and 50% more likely to have high blood pressure. A new study also found that Black women who develop high blood pressure before age 35 may have triple the risk of having a stroke by middle age. The study urges Black women to see their doctor and get their risk factors checked early. Researchers said that factors like underdiagnosis and a lack of treatment also put many Black women at risk of developing hypertension and stroke.