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Trump case expected to head to the jury today; IN food banks concerned about draft Farm Bill; NH parents, educators urge veto of anti-LGBTQ+ bills; Study shows a precipitous drop in migratory fish populations, in US and worldwide.

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Actor Robert DeNiro joins Capitol Police officers to protest against Donald Trump at his New York hush money trial as both sides make closing arguments. And the Democratic Party moves to make sure President Biden will be on the ballot in Ohio.

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Smokey Bear thought only "you" could prevent forest fires, but decomposing mushrooms may also help, a Native American community in Oregon is achieving healthcare sovereignty, and Colorado farmers hope fast-maturing, drought-tolerant seeds will better handle climate change.

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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