Health News Roundup

The death of a woman trying to bring attention to disparities in maternal mortality, and more in this week’s roundup

Happy Valentine’s Day to all of our health policy enthusiasts.

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Elizabeth Chuck, Haimy Assefa, NBC News, February 8 
Stephanie Snook, who was due with twins, was asked to be interviewed for an article about the high rate of pregnancy-related deaths for indigenous women. Stephanie and her twins died before she had the chance to be interviewed. While it’s unclear what could have been done to prevent this tragedy, many acknowledge that institutional racism and a lack of providers that share their patient’s racial and ethnic backgrounds contribute to these disparate health outcomes.

Carol Leonetti Dannhauser, Connecticut Health Investigative Team, February 12 
A recent federal study found that potentially preventable cancer deaths fell in Connecticut over the last decade, with two rural counties, Litchfield and Windham, experiencing a nearly 49 percent decrease, the best in the nation. Though cancer deaths fell overall in the United States, the trend in rural areas was not universal. In neighboring Massachusetts, for example, preventable cancer deaths rose in non-metropolitan areas. The lead author on the study noted that the improvement seen in Connecticut is statistically significant and likely due to factors including early prevention and detection efforts, as well as timely and targeted treatment and post-treatment care.
Lauren Weber, Kaiser Health News, February 7
Insurance companies often require patients to have medical procedures, devices, tests and even some medicines preapproved to ensure the insurers are willing to cover the costs. But that doesn’t guarantee they’ll end up paying. Some patients are getting stuck with unexpected bills after the services have been provided.
Sophia Schmidt, Delaware Public Media, February 7
review of data from 14 maternal mortality review committees in states including Delaware between 2008 and 2017 showed more than 60 percent of pregnancy-related deaths occurred between one day and one year postpartum. Delaware currently extends Medicaid coverage for women for 60 days after their pregnancy has ended as required by federal law. Lawmakers hope that the study will provide them with data to better understand the issue and identify the costs associated with extending coverage so they can develop a plan to move forward.