Daily on Healthcare: A look at US health disparities on MLK Day 2020

By | January 20, 2020

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THE STATE OF HEALTH DISPARITIES: In recent years, many of the leading narratives about health and mortality have centered on reports of falling life expectancies among middle-aged whites. Yet the stark reality is that blacks still die at a younger age than whites, have disproportionately worse health outcomes, and are less likely to have access to care.

Those realities are shaped by what are referred to in public health as the “social determinants of health,” meaning aspects of life that affect overall wellness, from access to jobs and education to housing and transportation. In other words, where and how people live helps determine how healthy and how long their lives will be.

Factors such as racism and economic burdens can lead to “toxic stress,” according to the advocacy group Mental Health America, contributing to chronic diseases, substance abuse, and depression.

There have been a few areas of improvement, but the differences in health outcomes are still pronounced when comparing black Americans with white Americans. On Martin Luther King Day, here is a brief picture of health disparities in America, using the most recently available data for each category:

* The rates of uninsured are still higher among Latinos and blacks than they are among whites, even though rates of uninsured fell across all races following Obamacare.

* Blacks are 60% more likely than whites to have been diagnosed with diabetes by a physician. And blacks are at least 2.6 times more likely to have end stage renal disease due to diabetes than whites.

* Black women are three times more likely to die during childbirth than white women. They’re also less likely to receive prenatal care, and their infants are 2.3 times more likely to die than those of whites.

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*African Americans have the highest mortality rate from cancer than any racial and ethnic group.

* Black children are four times more likely to be admitted to the hospital for asthma than white children.

*Black women are almost 18 times more likely to die from HIV/AIDS than white women, and black men are six times more likely than white men to die of HIV/AIDS.

Good morning and welcome to the Washington Examiner’s Daily on Healthcare! This newsletter is written by senior healthcare reporter Kimberly Leonard (@LeonardKL) and healthcare reporter Cassidy Morrison (@CassMorrison94). You can reach us with tips, calendar items, or suggestions at dailyonhealthcare@washingtonexaminer.com. If someone forwarded you this email and you’d like to receive it regularly, you can subscribe here.

TRUMP ANGRY AT AZAR OVER HEALTHCARE: The president berated his Health and Human Services secretary over high drug prices and polling showing that voters trusted Democrats more than Republicans to handle healthcare, according to multiple reports. He particularly wants to see Alex Azar take swift action on letting states import prescription drugs from Canada, a proposal that is tied up in rulemaking.

Trump regrets getting involved with vaping: “I should never have done that f—ing vaping thing,” President Trump said, according to Axios.

CDC BACKS OFF WARNING AGAINST ALL TYPES OF VAPING: After about six months of warning against all forms of vaping, including nicotine e-cigarettes, the CDC has narrowed the broad warning down to recommending that people mostly stay away from vaping THC, the psychoactive chemical in marijuana.

OBAMACARE BIRTH CONTROL MANDATE TO GO BACK BEFORE SCOTUS: The Supreme Court review the legality of a Trump administration rule that allows employers to opt out of covering birth control for their workers when they have religious or moral objections.

The case consolidates two challenges, Trump v. Pennsylvania and Little Sisters of the Poor Saints Peter and Paul Home v. Pennsylvania. The rules were blocked by lower courts, and the hearing will mark the third time that the birth control mandate will come up before the Supreme Court.

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NEW MEDICAID BLOCK GRANT GUIDANCE IS IMMINENT: The Trump administration will release new guidance for granting states waivers to use Medicaid block grants, according to the Wall Street Journal. Democrats Frank Pallone and Ron Wyden have warned the agencies that the waivers would be “illegal” and said that issuing them would be part of the administration’s “ongoing effort to fundamentally alter and weaken Medicaid’s financing structure.”

USDA MIGHT ROLL BACK MICHELLE OBAMA’S HEALTHY SCHOOL LUNCH POLICY: The U.S. Department of Agriculture proposed throwing out requirements for healthier school lunches, requirements championed by former First Lady Michelle Obama. The USDA Food and Nutrition Service plans to introduce more “flexibility” for schools to create their own meal plans, which could mean adjusting and scaling back the required serving sizes for fruits and vegetables. The FNS said the proposal would be a means to reduce food waste, as kids tend to throw away the foods they don’t eat, such as vegetables.

BIDEN WALKS BACK HIS PROMISE THAT YOU CAN KEEP PRIVATE INSURANCE IF YOU LIKE IT: Presidential candidate Joe Biden walked back a July 2019 promise that if you like your private insurance plan, you can keep it under his public option insurance plan. When asked about the July promise, he told the New York Times editorial board in an interview published Friday that what he meant in July was that if an employer continues providing private insurance plans to his or her workers, those workers can stay in those private plans. However, if the employer cancels the private coverage, workers would automatically be enrolled in a Medicare-like program under Biden’s public option system.

MAJOR AIRPORTS START SCREENING FOR NEW VIRUS SWEEPING CHINA: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Homeland Security have begun screening travelers from Wuhan, China, at some of the busiest airports in the U.S. — San Francisco, Los Angeles, and John F. Kennedy in New York — for a mystery pneumonia-like illness that has infected 198 people in Wuhan. Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore airports initiated screening procedures Dec. 31, and the virus has also spread to Japan, Thailand, and Beijing. So far, more than 200 people have gotten sick and three have died.

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FORMER GOP CONGRESSMAN SENTENCED OVER TWO YEARS FOR INSIDER TRADING: Former GOP congressman Chris Collins was sentenced to 26 months in prison and made to pay a $ 200,000 fine for tipping his son off to confidential information about an Australian biotech company’s failed drug trial. Cameron Collins, the congressman’s son, as well as his co-conspirator, Stephen Zarsky, were able to dump their stocks well before the news about the failed prescription drug trial was made public, and avoided hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses. Collins, one of Trump’s first supporters for president, resigned from his congressional seat Sept. 30 and pleaded guilty the next day to securities fraud.

The Rundown

Kaiser Health News No shield from X-rays: How science is rethinking lead aprons

The Wall Street Journal Is Peloton a fitness fad or a tech company? Everything’s riding on the answer

MedPage Today Understanding the nursing shortage – how the aging population is affecting the profession

NPR Patients still struggle to balance high costs of MS treatment, despite generic

The Washington Post Don’t be a jerk when you see your doctor – it can affect your care


MONDAY | Jan. 20

Martin Luther King Jr. Day federal holiday.

TUESDAY | Jan. 21

House in recess and Senate in session.

THURSDAY | Jan. 23

1 p.m. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report and webinar on “Addressing the Dual Epidemic of Opioid Use Disorder and Infectious Diseases.” Details.

FRIDAY | Jan. 24

March for Life. Details.