Health News Roundup

The hardest places to grow up in the U.S., and more in this week’s roundup

Erica Pandey, Axios, January 22
Neighborhoods matter. Children who live in neighborhoods with quality early childhood education and schools, safe housing, access to healthy food, parks and playgrounds and clean air are more likely to grow into healthy, productive adults than children who don’t. A new report from researchers at Brandeis University finds that black and Hispanic children are much less likely than white children to live in neighborhoods that allow for healthy growth. Some of the greatest disparities are found within a given metro area among children who only live short distances apart. In Connecticut, for example, a child living in a low-opportunity neighborhood of Bridgeport experiences conditions more similar to those of a child in a very low-opportunity neighborhood in Jackson, Miss., than to a child living just a few miles away in a high-opportunity Bridgeport neighborhood.
Cara Rosner, Connecticut Health Investigative Team, January 22
Nearly 40% of preschool-aged children nationwide have never had a vision screening, new data suggests, and there are disparities in who has been tested. During 2016 and 2017, only 63.5% of children 3 to 5 years old had their eyes tested by a doctor or other health professional, and whites were more likely to have been tested than blacks and Hispanics. Disparities also emerged along socio-economic lines and based on the type of insurance that the child had.
Christine Stuart, CT News Junkie, January 22
In order to get at the problem of rising medical costs in Connecticut, Gov. Ned Lamont signed two executive orders this week. The first directs the Office of Health Strategy to develop annual health care cost growth targets and primary care spending targets, and the second looks to the Department of Social Services to improve public transparency of Medicaid costs and quality. Massachusetts set similar growth spending benchmarks in 2012 and has seen health care cost growth below the national average.
Tara Golshan, Vox, January 22
The newest installment of the Everybody Covered series focuses on Maryland’s all-payer health care system. The state sets rates for inpatient hospital procedures, and it also sets overall limits on how much revenue hospitals can bring in. It’s a model that resembles how other countries contain health care costs, but it is unique in the United States. All-payer isn’t a silver bullet. It doesn’t cover the uninsured. It hasn’t meaningfully reduced the cost of commercial insurance in Maryland. But Maryland is encouraging its hospitals to focus on their patients’ health, and not the number of bodies in their beds. Covering everybody also means getting health care costs under control, and Maryland is setting an example that the rest of the US can learn from.
Bethany Ao, The Philadelphia Inquirer, December 27
Black teens experience several forms of racial discrimination every day, which leads to increased short-term depressive symptoms, according to a study by researchers at Rutgers University. The results of the study join a growing body of evidence on how racism negatively affects the health of black communities, both mentally and physically.