Health News Roundup

The practice of ‘race-norming’ in the NFL, and more in this week’s roundup

NFL pledges to halt ‘race-norming,’ review Black claims 
Maryclaire Dale, Associated Press, June 2
The NFL recently pledged to stop the use of “race-norming” — a practice which assumed Black players started out with lower cognitive function — in the $1 billion settlement of brain injury claims and review past scores for any potential race bias. Race-norming made it harder for Black retirees to show a deficit and qualify for financial compensation. The standards were created in the 1990s in hopes of offering more appropriate treatment to dementia patients, but critics faulted the way they were used to determine payouts in the NFL concussion case.

How can Connecticut prepare for the next pandemic? Invest in public health, officials say 
Alex Putterman and Emily Brindley, The Hartford Courant, June 1
As Connecticut continues to manage the pandemic and considers how to better prepare for the next one, some officials and experts have a simple suggestion: Invest in the state’s public health infrastructure. In Connecticut, Gov. Ned Lamont has proposed using federal funds for personal protective equipment, financial assistance to local health departments, the modernization of DPH data collection and other infrastructure, access to contraception and more. Altogether, the investment would total more than $92.5 million over the next four years, according to an allocation plan submitted to the legislature.

Immigration advocates fight to get health care for undocumented loved ones
Nicole Leonard, WNPR, June 1
Up until last year, 22-year-old Yenimar Cortez spent her whole life growing up without health insurance. Although still undocumented, Cortez, who lives in New Haven, was able to get insurance through her job as an organizer with Connecticut Students for a Dream, an immigration resource and advocacy organization. But it’s a bittersweet reality — her undocumented parents still face limited health care options. Her mom struggles with diabetes, her dad with asthma and other issues.

‘A dividing line’ — Vaccination rates trace socioeconomic boundaries in CT
Kasturi Pananjady and Dave Altimari, The Connecticut Mirror, June 3
Despite being prioritized for vaccine administration, Connecticut’s cities have consistently lagged behind in the state’s vaccine rollout, and detailed data on the neighborhood level show that disparities mirror existing inequities, particularly socioeconomic ones. In an effort to bolster equity, the state is distributing $13 million in federal funding to 27 local health departments. Local health officials — in conjunction with nonprofit and hospital partners — are using the money and the granular neighborhood data to fine-tune outreach in ZIP codes that the state has designated as priorities.

Researchers remove race from a calculator for childbirth
Katie Palmer, STAT, June 3
Since 2007, obstetricians have counseled patients planning to give birth after a previous C-section with help from a simple calculator designed to determine the likelihood of having a successful vaginal birth after cesarean, or VBAC. The tool takes into account a patient’s age, height, weight, and their history of vaginal and cesarean delivery. It also asks two yes-or-no questions: “African-American?” “Hispanic?” The answers can predict a drastically lower chance of success for patients of color. But now, after years of work by researchers, advocates, and clinicians, the racialized calculator has been replaced by a newly validated version that is the same in almost every way — except for eliminating race and ethnicity as a risk factor.

On a personal note…
After five years, today is my last day at the Connecticut Health Foundation. Read my farewell post here. I’m thankful for everything that I’ve learned, everyone I’ve had the pleasure to work with, and of course to all of our roundup readers!