Health News Roundup

The future of public health messaging, and more in this week’s roundup

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Public health agencies turn to locals to extend reach into immigrant communities 
Markian Hawryluk, Kaiser Health News, Feb. 10
Faced with disparities in COVID-19 vaccinations, public health departments in the Denver area began providing “microgrants” to community organizations serving immigrants and people of color. Some knocked on doors; others hosted vaccine promotion events at soccer games and flea markets. The approach could be the future of public health messaging and a way to combat the erosion of trust and politicization of public health that occurred during the pandemic.

Can food be medicine? Will insurers cover it? And other big questions about a new health movement
Nicholas Florko, STAT, Feb. 16
After nearly 40 years of obscurity, the “food is medicine” movement is having a moment. The movement focuses on the use of healthy food as a medical intervention for certain chronic and diet-related diseases. Federal agencies are working on “food is medicine” projects, major organizations have pledged millions in research funding, and billions more are being invested in food-focused startups. Even the White House has announced support for the movement. But now comes the hard part: Actually integrating food into medical practice.

Childbirth is deadlier for Black families even when they’re rich, expansive study finds
Clair Cain Miller, Sarah Kliff, and Larry Buchanan, The New York Times, Feb. 12
In the U.S., the richest mothers and their newborns are the most likely to survive the year after birth — except when the family is Black, according to a study of two million California births. The richest Black mothers and their babies are twice as likely to die as the richest white mothers and their babies. “This is a landmark paper, and what it makes really stark is how we are leaving one group of people way behind,” said Atheendar Venkataramani, an economist who studies racial health disparities.

Era of ‘free’ COVID vaccines, test kits, and treatments is ending. Who will pay the tab now?
Julie Appleby, Kaiser Health News, Feb. 10
The White House announced this month that the national public health emergency, first declared in early 2020 in response to the pandemic, is set to expire May 11. When it ends, so will many of the policies designed to combat the virus’s spread. The result could be higher costs for vaccines, test kits, and treatments. One thing is certain: How much, if any, of the boosted costs are passed on to consumers will depend on their health coverage.

Human Services Committee weighs expanding Medicaid coverage to young immigrants
Hugh McQuaid, CT News Junkie, Feb. 14
The state legislature’s Human Services Committee received more than 700 pieces of written testimony to support a bill that would extend Medicaid coverage to otherwise eligible residents up to 25 years old regardless of their immigration status. The bill builds on 2022 legislation that made children of non-citizen immigrants up to 12 years old eligible for Connecticut’s Medicaid program. More than 2,000 people have enrolled in the program since the change took effect Jan. 1.