Health News Roundup

Week of September 4, 2017

Health Equity

The infant mortality problem by race and geography
Bob Herman, Axios, September 6
Babies with black mothers die twice as often as babies with white or Hispanic mothers, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And that’s across urban and rural settings. Why it matters: A main finding of the CDC report was infant mortality rates were highest in rural areas and lowest in large urban areas. But that also makes sense, since people in rural counties are farther away from hospitals and doctors. The more eye-opening data show a gaping disparity in death rates for black infants regardless of where they live.

How free eyeglasses are boosting test scores in Baltimore
Sarah Gamard, Politico Magazine, August 17
Three years ago, Johns Hopkins University researchers in Baltimore asked a seemingly simple straightforward question: Could the persistent gap in reading performance between poor students and wealthier ones be closed if they gave the poor students eyeglasses? They screened several hundred second- and third-graders, gave two pairs of eyeglasses to the ones who needed them (about 60 percent of the group, based on a uniquely liberal prescribing standard) and tracked their school performance. The outcomes were notable even with the small sample size—reading proficiency improved significantly compared with the children who did not need eyeglasses.

Federal Reform

Move to end DACA leaves some young immigrants fearing for their health
Barbara Feder Ostrov and Anna Gorman, Kaiser Health News, September 6
For 26-year-old Paulina Ruiz, having legal immigration status is about more than going to school or holding a job. It’s about staying healthy. The University of California-Los Angeles graduate, whose parents brought her from Mexico to the U.S. illegally two decades ago, has cerebral palsy, a neurological condition diagnosed shortly after birth. In the past, Ruiz said, she relied on emergency rooms for her health care and rarely could see specialists. But in 2012, she qualified for the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which temporarily protected her from deportation.

Health Care

Senate tries for a bipartisan compromise on Obamacare fixes
Ana Radelat, The Connecticut Mirror, September 6
Connecticut’s ACA exchange, Access Health CT, has lost two of the four insurers that sold policies to individuals on that marketplace. Not having an insurer on the exchange would prevent more than 70,000 individuals and families in Connecticut from receiving subsidies that help them pay their monthly insurance premiums, including about 46,000 low-income residents who also get help with out-of-pocket costs like copayments and deductibles.

To insure more poor children, it helps if parents are on Medicaid
Shefali Luthra, Kaiser Health News, September 5
Efforts by lawmakers to scale back Medicaid enrollment could undercut an aspect of the program that has widespread bipartisan appeal — covering more children, research published in the journal Health Affairs suggests. Children were more likely to be enrolled in public health insurance programs if their parents were also able to enroll. “Children’s health policy doesn’t exist in a vacuum,” said Benjamin Sommers, an associate professor of health policy and economics at Harvard University’s public health school. “We can’t discuss covering kids without considering what other policies are affecting parents.”