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A new study shows health disparities cost Texas billions of dollars; Senate rejects impeachment articles against Mayorkas, ending trial against Cabinet secretary; Iowa cuts historical rural school groups.

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The Senate dismisses the Mayorkas impeachment. Maryland Lawmakers fail to increase voting access. Texas Democrats call for better Black maternal health. And polling confirms strong support for access to reproductive care, including abortion.

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Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

CT group fights deadly disparity in healthcare

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Tuesday, February 13, 2024   

A Connecticut group wants to work with the General Assembly on improving health equity. A 2023 Health Equity report from the nonprofit group DataHaven found disparities in care led to 14,000 deaths among Black residents between 2017 and 2022. While the pandemic worsened the fatalities, it highlighted people falling through the cracks of Connecticut's healthcare system.

Ayesha Clarke, executive director of Health Equity Solutions, called this a priority issue her organization and will work with the General Assembly.

"Our main one is to really address financial assistance, which really entails creating a universal application for hospitals to ensure that there is a common application across the state for those who are looking for financial assistance," she said.

She said part of this will include oversight from the Connecticut Attorney General's office - a change that isn't designed to be punitive, but rather to ensure that reform actually happens. Other priority areas based on community feedback include affordability of healthcare and examining race, ethnicity, and language preference, known as REL data, to address disparities in care.

Clarke said the biggest challenge is making sure hospitals understand oversight on the common application isn't punishment, and said the pandemic opened some eyes.

"With COVID-19, it was an opportunity to say, 'Oooh, this did happen and these structures are in place and we have to come and fix them or tear them down.' With COVID-19, it allowed, again, everyone to have a pause and really see that there are systems in place that are not really allowing everyone to be healthy," she said.

In 2023, Governor Ned Lamont signed bills improving healthcare affordability. The new laws establish a drug discount card program, expand the state's prohibition on facility fees, and provide increased transparency for high-cost drugs. Yet, data finds between 2016 and 2022, one-third of Connecticut residents did not visit a primary care physician.


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