Health Equity Alert

Written by admin   // June 26, 2012   // 0 Comments

Local Event

Black Health Coalition of WI & NAACP Milwaukee Chapter ‘s Community Forum

Topic: “How Healthcare Systems Meet Their Community Benefits Obligations”

Date: Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Time: 5:00 – 7:00 pm

Location: Milwaukee Chapter NAACP, 2745 N. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive

RSVP: Alexis at 414-933-0064

Featured News

The Importance of Genomic Medicine for African Americans

Authors: Earnestine Willis, MD, MPH and Clarene Mitchell, Medical College of Wisconsin

Source: Milwaukee Community Journal

(excerpt) The field of genomic medicine is still relatively new. Medical professionals outside of the field, including physicians, know very little about it and the general public knows even less. Underrepresented populations (African Americans, Hispanics, Asians and Native Americans) have been especially locked out of this medical field in regards to inclusion in the research as participants, translation of the research into clinical practice and when the research findings are disseminated.

In 1993, the National Institute of Medicine (NIH) Revitalization Act was signed into law directing the NIH to establish guidelines for inclusion of women and minorities in clinical research. Despite this legislation, White men continue to make up the vast majority of research participants.

Clinical interventions and medicines are developed based upon the research experiences from White men and applied to all. This inequitable practice stunts scientific advancement and ignores the genetic variances between populations.

Local News/Research

Sustaining Force Takes Shaper in Walker’s Point

Source: Milwaukee Public Radio

People crowded onto street in Walker’s Point Thursday night, to celebrate the official opening of the new Clock Shadow Building.

Attendees dug into freshly scooped ice cream and fresh cheese curds – both produced on site.

WUWM Environmental Reporter Susan Bence stepped into the four-story structure to explore it unique elements.

Half the building that now stands atop a remediated brown field is made of repurposed material.

National News/Research

Better-Educated Blacks, Lower Odds of Hypertension: Study

Source:. US News

African ancestry does not explain why black Americans are more likely than whites to have high blood pressure, a new study says.

But there is a significant association between low education levels and high blood pressure in blacks.

The findings dispel the long-held belief that West African ancestry is a major reason for high rates of hypertension among black Americans, according to lead author Amy Non, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholar at Harvard University.

Child Food Allergies More Common in Urban Areas, Study Finds

Source: Food Safety News

City children are more likely to have food allergies than kids who grow up in rural areas, according to a new study published last month in the Journal of Clinical Pediatrics.

A team of researchers from Illinois and Missouri surveyed parents of almost 40,000 children nationwide, finding that about 8 percent of children have allergies, but that that number varies depending on location. The more remote an area is, the less likely children there are to develop food allergies.

According to the study, 9.8 percent of children in urban centers have food allergies, while only 7.6 percent of children in suburbs are allergic to a food. In rural areas that number drops to 6.2 percent.

Filling the Gaps: Dental Care, Coverage and Access (videos and podcast)

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation

While the Affordable Care Act is expected to expand public and private coverage for children when it takes effect in 2014, significant gaps will remain, especially for low-income adults age 21 and older. This June 19, 2012 public forum at the Foundation’s Washington, D.C. offices examined the gaps and disparities in dental coverage and care in the United States today; the health, social, and other consequences of these systemic deficiencies; and promising strategies for ensuring access to oral health care for all Americans. The Foundation also released four new and updated resources that present data and analyze issues related to oral health care, coverage and access in the U.S.

Focus on Health, More than Health Care (Opinion piece, Louis W. Sullivan)

Source: The New York Times

No matter what the Supreme Court decides, the transformation of America’s health system is already under way because of new technologies, financial pressures from continually rising costs (for individuals and businesses) and increasing awareness of the nation’s health care crisis.

But a forceful contributor to this continuing transformation is the growing movement from a culture of sickness to a culture of wellness in our society. There is increasing knowledge about ways to protect, maintain and enhance our health, and greater public determination to couple that knowledge with actions.

In recent years we have seen modest reductions in deaths from some cancers and from high blood pressure, heart disease and other disorders. But these encouraging outcomes are not being experienced by all segments of our population, particularly racial and ethnic minorities and the poor.

Health care law saves consumers over $1 billon

Source: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that 12.8 million Americans will benefit from $1.1 billion in rebates from insurance companies this summer, because of the Affordable Care Act’s 80/20 rule. These rebates will be an average of $151 for each family covered by a policy.

The health care law generally requires insurance companies to spend at least 80 percent of consumers’ premium dollars on medical care and quality improvement. Insurers can spend the remaining 20 percent on administrative costs, such as salaries, sales, and advertising. Beginning this year, insurers must notify customers how much of their premiums have been actually spent on medical care and quality improvement.

Insurance companies that do not meet the 80/20 standard must provide their policyholders a rebate for the difference no later than Aug. 1, 2012. The 80/20 rule is also known as the Medical Loss Ratio (MLR) standard.

How well do you sleep? The answer may depend on your race

Source: Time

There’s no shortage of reasons that many Americans don’t get enough sleep: stress, obesity, late-night shifts on the job, to name just a few. Now new research suggests another factor to consider as well — their race or ethnicity.

In two presentations at the annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies in Boston, scientists report that the amount and quality of sleep people get each night vary across racial and ethnic lines. In one study, researchers found that blacks and Asians don’t sleep as much as whites do, while another study showed that foreign-born Americans are less likely to report having sleep problems than those born in the U.S.

A better understanding of these discrepancies could help researchers improve the sleep habits of particular groups — a potential public-health boon, considering that inadequate sleep is increasingly associated with greater risks of chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, obesity and certain cancers.

Mapping Food Insecurity: A Step towards Ending Childhood Hunger

Source: Spotlight on Poverty

Food insecurity is a public health epidemic that affects 49 million Americans, and is particularly prevalent in our most vulnerable communities. One in five households with children are food insecure, and single parent families are even worse. Households with children headed by single women experience food insecurity at a rate of 35.1 percent.

Despite this terrible reality, some commentators continue to question whether food insecurity even exists in America. For that reason, Feeding America launched the Map the Meal Gap project. By demonstrating where food insecurity lurks in America, and the specific populations, including children, who are most affected, the project challenges people who look the other way. It can also bring us a step closer to ending child hunger once and for all by putting compelling data in the hands of those who can use it.

Much rides on graduation for Latino high school students – Henry Ng and Megan L. Sprecher

Source: The Plain Dealer

(Excerpt) Earning a high school diploma has significant implications for youth in terms of predicting socioeconomic achievement and success throughout the rest of their lives. The median earnings for a high school graduate are about double the median earnings for someone without a high school diploma, a U.S. Census American Community Survey Report from September 2011 shows. It adds that “in addition to higher earnings, people with higher levels of education are more likely to be employed full-time, year-round.”

Educational attainment is also directly correlated to health, according to a 2009 report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Commission to Build a Healthier America. The report notes that “adults who have not graduated from high school are more than 2.5 times as likely to be in less than very good health as college graduates.”

Needy patients get ‘prescriptions’ for food and shelter through volunteer program

Source: Washington Post

(Excerpt) Although study after study has linked poverty to poor health — a 2006 report in the journal Pediatrics found that children whose families cannot pay their utility bills are 30 percent more likely to be hospitalized — the medical and social service systems have long operated in largely separate and disconnected spheres. Too often, that results in a medical revolving door, as when doctors prescribe asthma medicines for children living in mold-infested apartments, only to have them wind up in the emergency room because their housing conditions were never addressed.

“Physicians don’t ask these questions because they don’t know what to do with the answers,” said Children’s social worker Alison Page. Most doctors, she added, have neither the time nor the expertise to deal with what health researchers call “the social determinants” of health.

North Carolina Refuses to Give Money to Sterilization Victims

Source: Black Like Moi

North Carolina’s state legislature rejected a plan to give $50,000 to victims of forced sterilization in the state Wednesday. The measure passed the General Assembly, but failed in the Senate. Governor Beverly Perdue, a Democrat, had allocated $10 million in the state budget for the payout.

From 1929-1974, it is believed that 7,600 people, mostly black women, were sterilized by the state’s now defunct Eugenics Board. Its program differs from many other states with plans that targeted “feeble-minded” people in that North Carolina increased its scope after World War II. An updated estimate from the NC State Center for Health Statistics identifies 1,350-1,800 victims living today.

Social-Class Discrimination Contributes to Poorer Health, Study Says

Source: News Wise

Discrimination felt by teenagers based on their social class background can contribute to physiologic changes associated with poorer health, according to a new study led by a University of Wisconsin-Madison researcher.

Lead author Dr. Thomas Fuller-Rowell, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholar, says that while the link between poverty and poor health has long been known, this is one of the first studies to consider the impact of class discrimination.

Study: Proximity to healthy foods doesn’t matter. Price does.

Source: Washington Post

Here’s one reason why some food desert interventions don’t show results: Most people do not shop where they live.

That’s the conclusion of a new study from the University of Washington’s Adam Drewnowski. It’s the first to look at both which supermarkets individuals live near and where they actually shop. And it finds surprisingly little overlap between the two: In his survey of 1,682 Seattle residents, he found only 14 percent shopped at the supermarket nearest to them.

“In the present study, proximity to the nearest supermarket had no impact on obesity rates,” the study finds. “These findings ran counter to previous research consensus that physical proximity to supermarkets had a major influence on diets.”

The Affordable Care Act Can Help Millions (Expert says that Blacks and Latinos will benefit if the health care bill is upheld.)

Source: The Root

Imagine the anxiety suffered by Tee McClenty, a medical technician and mother of a 19-year-old son, when she received a letter in the mail stating that his health care coverage had been dropped because he was no longer a full-time student.

Imagine the distress that Denise Ybarra, a pediatric health care worker, felt when her husband lost his job and they questioned whether their 16-year-old daughter, diagnosed with T-cell leukemia 10 years earlier, would be denied health insurance because of her previous medical condition.

The Right Care at the Right Time: Are Retail Clinics Meeting a Need? (videos and podcast)

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation

The Alliance for Health Reform and WellPoint, Inc. discuss the role of urgent care centers and retail clinics emerging within the health care system.

Panelists will explore such questions as: Can savings and improved access to care be produced through alternative care settings? Will these settings reduce emergency room use for primary care? Do they have the potential to ease the shortage of primary care providers? Who is monitoring the quality of care being delivered at these centers? What about continuity of care and care management?

Clarene Mitchell, Program Manager

Health Equity and Urban Clinical Care Partnerships, Institute for Health and Society

Medical College of Wisconsin | 8701 Watertown Plank Road | Milwaukee, WI 53226-0509

(414-955-5656 | 7 414-955-6529 I Website:

The plague of racism is insidious, entering into our minds as smoothly and quietly and invisibly as floating airborne microbes enter into our bodies to find lifelong purchase in our bloodstreams.

By Dr. Maya Angelou

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