Health News Roundup

South Carolina’s radical idea to fight infant mortality, three states vote to expand Medicaid, and more

health equity

Sit in a circle. Talk to other pregnant women. Save your baby’s life?
Sarah Kliff, Vox, November 2
When Amy Crockett first started her job running a women’s clinic in the mid-2000s, South Carolina was one of the most dangerous places for a baby to be born. It had the 49th worst infant mortality rate in the United States in 2005, doing better than only Mississippi. Rural counties had infant mortality rates similar to Third World countries. Crockett began running an experiment to try to fix this problem. But her solution wasn’t driven by a new technology or innovation. It was much simpler than that: She had women in her clinic do their prenatal care visits in big, group appointments. The visits last two hours, and look a lot more like a support group than a traditional doctor visit.

1 in 6 older black people have been homeless at some point in their life, study finds
Jeff Stein, The Washington Post, October 9
About 17 percent of African American baby boomers have been homeless at some point in their lives, according to the first national study in decades to look at lifetime homeless rates. The study, released last month, suggests older black Americans are about three times more likely to experience homelessness than white Americans. “The magnitude of the racial and ethnic disparities is striking,” said Vincent Fusaro, a co-author of the study and a professor of Boston College. Homeless advocates and activists have for years attacked the federal government’s estimates of the national homeless population, accusing it of dramatically understating the scope and severity of the problem.

health policy

Midterm results show health is important to voters but no magic bullet
Julie Rovner, Kaiser Health News, November 7
In exit polling, as in many earlier surveys in 2018, voters said that health care, particularly preserving protections for people with preexisting conditions, was their top issue.

Idaho, Nebraska, and Utah vote to expand Medicaid
Sarah Kliff, Vox, November 7
Three states voted Tuesday to expand their Medicaid programs, which will extend coverage to an estimated 325,000 low-income Americans. Voters in Idaho, Nebraska, and Utah passed ballot initiatives that would commit their states to participating in the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid to all residents who make less than 133 percent of the poverty line (about $16,000 for an individual or $33,000 for a family of four).


Connecticut’s health insurance exchange begins open enrollment
Jeff Cohen, WNPR, November 7
Connecticut has just begun open enrollment for health plans being offered under the Affordable Care Act. This is the sixth such period for those looking for private insurance and who may also need a federal subsidy to pay for it. One question this year is whether enrollment will actually go down since some healthy people may simply not enroll. State officials say they’re hoping to keep enrollment through the exchange at just over 100,000 this year.