Health News Roundup

The importance of street medicine for the growing homeless population, and more in this week’s roundup

Soumya Karlamangla, The Los Angeles Times, February 16
Brett Feldman leads a four-person medical team that offers care to some of the sickest people in Los Angeles by meeting them where they live, on the street. The patients don’t have to schedule appointments, find transportation to the clinic, pick up prescriptions or pay for their treatment — barriers that make homeless people much sicker and more likely to die. This team is one of several providing medical care on the street for L.A. County’s growing homeless population. These so-called street medicine teams are multiplying nationwide as well, with more than 90 across the country and some doctors weighing whether the practice should be taught in medical schools. The shift acknowledges not just the humanity of homeless people but also a nationwide failure to house them and provide health care to everyone who needs it.
Amy Clary, National Academy for State Health Policy, February 18
Research has proven the close relationship between food and well-being, with diet-related disparities leading to poorer health among some racial and ethnic groups. State leaders are using a wide range of strategies – from covering healthy meals under Medicaid to contracting for nutritious foods for prisons, state offices buildings, and hospitals – to reduce food insecurity and expand access to wholesome food.
Kaiser Family Foundation released a new series of fact sheets that provide a comprehensive overview of the health policy landscape in each state. Each snapshot contains data about more than three dozen demographic and health care indicators across a wide variety of subjects, including health care costs, the uninsured, private insurance, Medicare and Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act, access to care and the health status of the population. Snapshots also contain basic information about each state’s political landscape.
Rachel Bluth, Samantha Young, Kaiser Health News, February 18
California’s health insurance marketplace, Covered California, saw a 41 percent jump in new sign-ups from last year. This increase has been driven by state policies that provide financial aid to help some people afford their premiums while penalizing those who don’t have coverage. Covered California is also giving consumers who remain uninsured another chance to enroll during a special enrollment period that will last through April. The California figures are in contrast to declining enrollment in the federal exchange, and may offer a view into how states can bolster their marketplaces by reinstating an individual mandate fine, offering enhanced subsidies, and having a longer enrollment period.