Health News Roundup

Pregnant women in rural areas stranded without access to care, monitoring blood pressure remotely, and more in this week’s roundup

linking care with community

Yale program tackles kids’ obesity by teaching parents healthy eating habits
Cara Rosner, Connecticut Health Investigative Team, July 18
A new program at Yale New Haven Hospital integrates a healthy-eating curriculum into group well-child visits at the primary care center. Leaders expect it to result in slower weight gain among infants as well as healthier mothers and families. Obesity is an issue of health disparity and the numbers are much worse among people living in poverty. That’s why the program is partnering with WIC, the federal Special Supplemental Nutrition Program that provides subsidies to low-income pregnant and postpartum women and children up to age 5 who are at nutritional risk.

health reform

Federal cuts to health navigator program won’t directly hit state
Amanda Cuda, Connecticut Post, July 13
Dramatic federal cuts to grant money for organizations that help people sign up for health insurance won’t directly affect Connecticut consumers, according to local experts. Because Connecticut has its own health care exchange and doesn’t use the federal program,, it wasn’t receiving federal funding for its navigator program and won’t take a direct hit from the cuts. But that doesn’t mean the announcement of funding cuts won’t have an impact on Connecticut, said Andrea Ravitz, head of marketing for Access Health CT, the state’s health insurance exchange.

Hidden from view: The astonishingly high administrative costs of U.S. health care
Austin Frakt, The New York Times, July 16
It takes only a glance at a hospital bill or at the many health insurance choices to get a sense of the bewildering complexity of health care financing in the United States. That complexity comes with administrative costs that are largely hidden from view but that we all pay. By one estimate, for every 10 physicians providing care, almost seven additional people are engaged in billing-related activities.

access to care

It’s 4 A.M. The baby’s coming. But the hospital Is 100 miles away
Jack Healy, The New York Times, July 17
Today, researchers estimate that fewer than half of the country’s rural counties still have a hospital that offers obstetric care. When obstetric services leave town, a cascade of risks follows. Women go to fewer doctor’s appointments and more babies are born premature, compared with similar places that do not lose access to care. And when women go into labor, they are more likely to end up at emergency rooms with no obstetric care or to deliver outside a hospital altogether.

These Louisiana physicians can monitor your blood pressure — and you don’t even have to leave your living room
Carolyn Y. Johnson, The Washington Post, July 11
The real barrier to widespread use of at-home blood pressure monitoring and similar innovations for chronic diseases is not as much technological as human. The support system is hard to replicate — the health care provider who calls to check up on a patient, the digital pipeline to make sure her data doesn’t sit unread on some server or overwhelm doctors, and the commitment to help patients set up their gadgets. Another barrier: Health care systems are still largely paid for patching people up, not preventing sickness.