Health News Roundup

Week of October 2, 2017

Health Equity

Physicians, puppet shows, preventative care on tap at Hartford health fair
Vanessa de la Torre, The Hartford Courant, October 5
On Saturday,October 7, Simpson-Waverly School will transform into a buzzing health center with physicians, puppet shows and preventative care.In just six years, the event has skyrocketed in popularity as a way to address health disparities that afflict people of color, and particularly residents in the North End, an area the city has identified as beset with the highest rates for obesity, heart disease, infections and infant mortality in Hartford.

Less access to health services, programs in rural areas take toll
Jodie Mozdzer Gil, Connecticut Health I-Team, October 3
“We have excellent medical care as a general rule in the state,” state Rep. Susan Johnson, D-Windham, said. But rural and other high poverty areas, where many residents are on Medicaid rather than private health insurance, remain vulnerable to hospital service reductions and changes in eligibility for health care coverage, she said.

To advance medicine’s future, the NIH tries to win the trust of communities mistreated in the past
Lev Facher, STAT, September 22
The National Institutes of Health is seeking to build a massive trove of medical information of more than 1 million people to help in the development of precise diagnostic tests and treatments. Officials hope that the participants will be more diverse than those in typical research studies, who tend to be disproportionately white, educated, affluent, and male. To earn the trust and participation from underrepresented groups, they are undertaking a major outreach strategy that focuses in part on community health centers, including some in Connecticut.

Health Care

The medical bill score: How the public judges health care
Drew Altman, Axios, October 3
We track a lot of numbers in health care: how much we spend on health as a share of our economy; the number of uninsured; and the share of the federal budget allocated to health programs. What we don’t track — and a number the Congressional Budget Office cannot score — is the statistic that means the most to the American people: the share of the public having problems paying their health care bills.

The Health 202: Puerto Rico’s problems include a Medicaid shortfall
Paige Winfield Cunningham, The Washington Post, October 4
Nearly two weeks after the storm, 93 percent of Puerto Ricans remained without power. More than 88 percent of the territory’s cellphone towers are out of service. But there are a couple of numbers with which many might not be familiar: Nearly half of all Puerto Ricans participate in Medicaid, the federal health-care program for low-income Americans — and the island doesn’t receive the same amount of money as U.S. states to help keep it flush. Puerto Rico got some additional funding under the Affordable Care Act, but that is expected to run out by the end of this year or the start of 2018. If it’s not replaced, the island could be forced to kick half a million people off Medicaid, officials there have said.