Health News Roundup

Why our nation’s outbreak preparedness is a health equity issue, and more in this week’s roundup

Claire Cain Miller, Sarah Kliff and Margot Sanger-Katz, The New York Times, March 1
Stay home from work if you get sick. See a doctor. Use a separate bathroom from the people you live with. Prepare for schools to close, and to work from home. These are measures the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended to slow a coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. Yet these are much easier to do for certain people — in particular, high-earning professionals. Service industry workers, like those in restaurants, retail, and child care, are much less likely to have paid sick days, the ability to work remotely or employer-provided health insurance.
Susan Kennedy, Sunita Krishnan, Health Affairs Blog, February 27
Maternal mortality and morbidity have garnered recent attention in the face of growing disparities in outcomes across minority and low-income populations. States are now citing this disparity as a policy priority for their Medicaid agencies, who are uniquely positioned to take the lead in addressing these disparities in health outcomes.
May Ortega, CPR News, March 4
February 2020 marked one year since Colorado changed its rules to expand its emergency Medicaid coverage, allowing undocumented immigrants to receive regular dialysis treatment. The federal government mandates that every hospital that accepts Medicaid must provide emergency medical care to everyone who needs it, regardless of their citizenship status or their ability to pay. But the system only allowed undocumented patients to get dialysis when they were on the brink of death, not receive ongoing treatment. Each state can set its own requirements but advocates in Colorado made the case that allowing coverage for regular treatment not only saves lives, but also saves the state money. The latest available data shows that Colorado is on track to save up to $19 million since the rule change went into effect. Before the change, Medicaid paid about $20,000 per patient per month. Now, covering them through regular dialysis costs about $8,000.
Nicholas Florko, STAT, March 4
Emma Kleck, who has type 1 diabetes, knew she’d be paying a hefty sum each year for the test strips, body sensors, and insulin vials she needs to manage her disease once she turned 26 and switched from her parents’ insurance to the high-deductible plan her job offers. She was determined to see if she could find a cheaper option. In the U.S., insulin costs have more than tripled in recent years, with a single vial of insulin now costing roughly $300. In contrast, in Canada, insulin costs less than $50 per vial. And increasingly, people seeking cheaper insulin are flying north from all over the U.S. to stock up.
Jean Falbo-Sosnovich, New Haven Register, February 27
Families in the Connecticut Valley are increasingly struggling to make ends meet, forced to decide whether to pay the heating bill or put food on the table. Two years ago, Griffin Hospital and its health care partners in the Value Care Alliance started an initiative to address this issue, having found that more than 22 percent of its patients screened, reported food insecurity issues. “Supplying local food banks and food pantries with more nutritious food such as fresh produce, lean meat, fish, eggs and whole grains is part of Griffin’s effort to support community based organizations that are addressing the needs of limited income families in our community,” said Griffin Health CEO and President Patrick Charmel.