Category Archives: Hispanic Health

Hispanic children’s uninsured rate falls to record low, study

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Screen Shot 2016-01-15 at 7.35.40 AMBy Lisa Gillespie
KHN

The rate of Hispanic children without health insurance fell to a historic low in 2014, the first year that key parts of Obamacare took effect, but they still represent a disproportionate share of the nation’s uninsured youth, according to a new study.

About 300,000 Hispanic children gained insurance in 2014 from 2013, dropping the number of uninsured to 1.7 million, researchers said.

Their uninsured rate fell to 9.7 percent, almost 2 percentage points below the year before. The rate for all U.S. children fell to 6.0 percent from 7.1 percent.

Twenty states had rates of uninsured Hispanic children that were lower than the national average in 2014.

The report released Friday was co-authored by the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute’s Center for Children and Families and the National Council of La Raza, a civil rights and advocacy group for Hispanic Americans.

One reason for the improvement, researchers said, is that the Affordable Care Act produced opportunities for Hispanic adults to get health coverage, such as providing premium subsidies for buying health insurance in federal and state marketplaces and expanding Medicaid programs in many states. When parents enrolled, they generally signed up their children, too.

States that extended Medicaid to low-income adults had an average 7 percent uninsured rate for Hispanic children, about half the average 13.7 percent uninsured rate of states that did not expand Medicaid. Continue reading

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Telenovelas, Spanish website seek to inform Hispanics about kidney donation

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KHNTelenovela_1_770

Will Roberto be able to carry the heavy boxes his job requires if he donates a kidney to his brother, Jorge? How will his family pay their bills if Roberto has to take several weeks off from work to recover from the surgery?

Will Mama consider a kidney donation from her daughter, Carla, or turn her down, worried the procedure will keep Carla from having another baby?

These two telenovela plots have gripped some viewers in the past few months. But don’t expect to see the Spanish-language dramas on a network or streaming service. They’re customized for Infórmate, a new bilingual website dedicated to using culturally familiar methods to educate Latinos about options for living kidney donation.

The marketing strategy is intended to address a growing need among Latinos. Kidney failure in this population has increased by more than 70 percent since 2000, and more than 23,000 Latinos are on the kidney transplant list, according to federal statistics.

But too often, researchers and doctors said, families are not aware of the transplant regimen involving a live donor and have unfounded fears about what could happen if they volunteer to offer a kidney to a relative or friend.

“Right now, Latino patients often don’t learn about live kidney donation until they are in crisis, and that is a bad time to be learning about something complex and somewhat foreign to their culture,” said Junichiro Sageshima, a transplant surgeon at the University of California, Davis. Continue reading

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Worlds Apart: Vast disparities in treatment separate Americans with HIV

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Loren Jones, 63, lives in a government-subsidized studio apartment in downtown Berkeley. (Heidi de Marco/KHN)

Loren Jones, 63, lives in a government-subsidized studio apartment in downtown Berkeley. (Heidi de Marco/KHN)

By Barbara Feder Ostrov

A major insurer said recently it would offer life insurance to HIV-positive people because of their rising life expectancies, prompting cheers from AIDS activists.

But on the very same day,  the nation’s top disease control official described an America falling far short in its fight against AIDS.

Compared to white men, African American men were more than seven times and Latino men were almost twice as likely to die from HIV-related complications.

It might seem a jarring disconnect — but it reflects very different realities dividing the estimated 1.2 million Americans living with the human immunodeficiency virus that causes AIDS.

While life expectancies are approaching the national norm among white, affluent gay men, about 66 percent of the 1.2 million people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States are not in treatment, imperiling their health and putting them at risk for infecting others.

African-Americans, mostly gay or bisexual men, account for nearly half of the approximately 45,000 Americans infected with HIV each year.

Both African-Americans and Latinos are less likely to remain in treatment than whites.

Compared to white men, African American men were more than seven times and Latino men were almost twice as likely to die from HIV-related complications.

HIV/AIDS activists and physicians say that despite the significant medical advances in treating the disease, many patients are being left behind because of their life circumstances.

Groups that once held angry demonstrations against government agencies and pharmaceutical companies to speed access to affordable, life-saving HIV medications now emphasize the socioeconomic barriers that keep some people living with HIV from consistently obtaining and using those drugs to remain healthy.

“There is an extreme disparity when it comes to treating HIV and AIDS,” said Anthony Hayes, managing director of public affairs and policy for GMHC, formerly Gay Men’s Health Crisis. Continue reading

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Diversity in medical research is a long way off, study shows | University of California – San Francisco

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Photo courtesy of Sanja Gjenero

Despite Congressional mandates aimed at diversifying clinical research, little has changed in the last 30 years in both the numbers of studies that include minorities and the diversity of scientists being funded, according to a new analysis by researchers at UC San Francisco.

That lack of diversity could have a serious impact on our ability to care for the nearly 40 percent of the current U.S. population whose heritage includes non-European races, the authors said, and will increase in urgency as the proportion of minority residents exceeds 50 percent in 2044.

The commentary, which was published Dec. 15, 2015, in the Policy Forum of online scientific journal PLoS Medicine, compiled 30 years of raw data on funding for research by non-White scientists, as well as two decades of analyses from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and others regarding the percentage of clinical studies that include racial and ethnic minorities.

They found that since the 1993 NIH Revitalization Act, which required all federally funded clinical research to prioritize the inclusion of women and minorities, less than 2 percent of the 10,000-plus cancer studies have included enough minorities to be relevant, and less than 5 percent of respiratory studies have.

Photo courtesy of Sanja Gjenero

Source: Diversity in medical research is a long way off, study shows | EurekAlert! Science News

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New Spanish Health Information Website from the NIH

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NIH Spanish Health Information Portal

You can now find Spanish-language health information from across NIH in one place.

This new site offers a wealth of free, science-based health information, including dozens of NIH News in Health articles.

A new feature, called “Ask Carla,” invites your questions and comments about finding health info.

Screen capture of the homepage for the NIH Spanish Health Information Portal.

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Obama administration will target hard-to-reach uninsured in next enrollment period

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ACA health reform logoBy Mary Agnes Carey
KHN

The health law’s upcoming enrollment period may be its toughest yet, with federal officials promising a vigorous outreach campaign to enroll millions of eligible yet hard-to-reach Americans who have yet to sign up for health insurance.

“Those who are still uninsured are going to be a bigger challenge,” Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said Tuesday in remarks to the Howard University College of Medicine.

This year’s enrollment campaign will be harder in part because officials will be pursuing those who have declined to sign up for health insurance during the two previous enrollment seasons.  Continue reading

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Diabetes in the US population

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Glucometer showing a blood sugar of 105From the National Institutes of Health 

Diabetes is a disorder in how the body uses glucose, a sugar that serves as the body’s fuel. In type 1 diabetes, the body doesn’t make insulin, a hormone that triggers cells throughout the body to take up glucose from blood.

In type 2 diabetes—the most common type—the body doesn’t make or use insulin well. Both types can lead to heart, kidney, nerve, and eye diseases over time.

Hispanic Americans had the highest prevalence of diabetes at 19-23%, with up to 49% of that undiagnosed. About 21-22% of non-Hispanic black adults had diabetes, with up to 37% undiagnosed.

Non-Hispanic whites had the lowest prevalence of diabetes at 10-11%.

To assess how common diabetes is, researchers at NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) analyzed data collected in CDC’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). NHANES is a periodic survey of a representative sample of the U.S. population.

Recent surveys included blood tests and other measurements. The researchers, led by Drs. Andy Menke and Catherine Cowie, examined data gathered from almost 2,800 people during the 2011-2012 survey cycle. The study was published on September 8, 2015, in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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Longevity and health in later life vary greatly by community in L.A.

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3-D Perspective image of the Los Angeles Basin from the Landsat satellite using NASA's Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) for topography information. The vertical scale is exaggerated one and half times.

3-D Perspective image of the Los Angeles Basin from the Landsat satellite using NASA’s Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) for topography information. The vertical scale is exaggerated one and half times.

By Anna Gorman
KHN

report on aging in Los Angeles County, the nation’s largest county and one of its most diverse, shows wide disparities in life expectancy among different ethnic groups and neighborhoods.

Overall, the life expectancy for Los Angeles County residents was about 82 years in 2011, up from nearly 76 in 1991, according to the report by University of Southern California’s Roybal Institute on Aging. Much of that can be attributed to drops in coronary heart disease, strokes and lung cancer, the report noted.

But African Americans can expect to live to an average of about 76 years whereas the average for Asians and Pacific Islanders approaches 86 years, the report said.

And residents who have reached the age of 50 in the more affluent western part of the county are expected to live about five years longer than those in largely poor South Los Angeles.

Similarly, researchers found stark differences among ethnic groups when it comes to chronic disease. Latinos in L.A. County aged 50 or older have nearly double the rate of diabetes as whites, and older African Americans have a much higher rate of hypertension than other ethnic groups. Continue reading

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More than half of Asian Americans with diabetes are undiagnosed

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New statistics also show rising prevalence of diabetes among all groups

From the National Institutes of Health

More than half of Asian Americans and nearly half of Hispanic Americans with diabetes are undiagnosed, according to researchers from the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Their results were published Sept. 8 in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association

Additionally, prevalence of diabetes for all American adults went up, from nearly 10 percent to over 12 percent between 1988 and 2012.

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The graph shows the percentage of the U.S. adult population – both as a whole and by ethnic/racial subgroup – with diabetes (blue bars) and the percentage who have diabetes that has not been diagnosed (green bars), according to findings from researchers supported by the NIH and the CDC and published in the Sept. 8 issue of JAMA.

Diabetes prevalence – how common the condition is – also went up in every age, sex, level of education, income and racial/ethnic subgroup. Continue reading

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Bring doctors to patients who need them most

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Jennifer Vargas, a second year resident at Riverside County’s Regional Medical Center, treats patient Maria Sanchez, 54, at Riverside County’s Regional Medical Center on April 21, 2015.    Sanchez says she feels comfortable with Vargas because she speaks Spanish (Photo by Heidi de Marco/KHN).

Jennifer Vargas, a second year resident at Riverside County’s Regional Medical Center, treats patient Maria Sanchez, 54, at Riverside County’s Regional Medical Center on April 21, 2015. Sanchez says she feels comfortable with Vargas because she speaks Spanish (Photo by Heidi de Marco/KHN).

By Andrew L. Wang and Heidi de Marco

MORENO VALLEY, Calif. — Jennifer Vargas’ path toward becoming a doctor took her from UCLA to Guadalajara before it ultimately led back home, to California’s vast Inland Empire east of Los Angeles.

“Today, our country is largely training the sons and daughters of wealthy people to be physicians… You wonder why we have a problem with people not serving in underserved communities; it’s because they don’t know what an underserved community looks like.”

When the Chino Hills, Calif. native graduated from medical school in Mexico, her first choice for residency training was Riverside County’s public medical center, which serves among the fastest growing and most medically deprived parts of California.

It was just what she wanted:  To serve a vulnerable patient population facing high barriers to care, particularly immigrant patients from Mexico who would benefit from a Spanish-speaking physician.

“It offered the best fit for me,” said Vargas, 32, a second-year resident in family medicine at Riverside County Regional Medical Center. Continue reading

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Why I love family-run restaurants: Insights from a food inspector

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cropped-eyob-in-idBy Eyob Mazengia, PhD, RS, Food Protection Program
Public Health – Seattle & King County

When I started as a food inspector, I was assigned to the International District. And I liked it. It was almost like walking into a new culture, a new era.

What fascinated me was that as a public health worker, I had permission to walk into people’s personal spaces. I liked the smells, the sounds of their languages, their wall hangings and the way things looked.

It was a privilege, really, to be allowed into their personal spaces. Going on food inspections in the I.D., it was like walking into 3-4 different countries every day, without traveling outside the neighborhood.

Over the years, I established good relationships with the restaurant establishments. They were no longer just restaurant operators—they were mothers, fathers, grown kids. They’re not just businesses—there’s a family behind every door, people who had often gone through difficult times to be here.

And as I got to know them, I could recognize the sacrifices they made to give their children better opportunities in the U.S., and what they left behind. Even those born and raised here, you could recognize the sacrifices they were making. Continue reading

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International Community Health Service recognized as ‘National Quality Leader’

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International Community Health ServicesInternational Community Health Services (ICHS)  been cited by the federal government as a “National Quality Leader” for exceeding national clinical benchmarks for chronic disease management, preventive care, and perinatal/prenatal services.

The Seattle-based health center also was recognized for achieving some of the best overall clinical outcomes nationally for health centers and for showing significant improvement in clinical quality measures between 2012 and 2013.

ICHS is a non-profit community health center that specializes in providing affordable health care services to Seattle and King County’s Asian, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, and other underserved communities.

It operates medical and dental centers in Seattle’s International District and Holly Park neighborhoods, as well as in the cities of Bellevue and Shoreline; a school-based health center at the Seattle World School, and a primary care clinic at ACRS, a social and mental health services agency in Seattle.

In recognition of its accomplishment and to fund further quality improvement, ICHS will receive $84,169 in Affordable Care Act funding by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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How Obamacare went south in Mississippi

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In the country’s unhealthiest state, the failure of Obamacare is a group effort.

By Sarah Varney
KHN / October 29, 2014

The lunch rush at Tom’s on Main in Yazoo City, Mississippi, had come to a close, and the waitresses, having cleared away plates of shrimp and cheese grits, seasoned turnip greens and pitchers of sweet tea, were retreating to the counter to cash out and count their tips.

It didn’t take long: The $6.95 lunchtime specials didn’t land them much, and the job certainly didn’t come with benefits like health insurance. For waitress Wylene Gary, 54, being uninsured was unnerving, but she didn’t try to buy coverage on her own until the Affordable Care Act forced her to. She didn’t want to be a lawbreaker.

Months earlier, she had gone online to the federal government’s new website, signed up and paid her first monthly premium of $129. But when her new insurance card arrived in the mail, she was flabbergasted.

“It said, $6,000 deductible and 40 percent co-pay,” Gary told me at the check-out counter, her timid drawl giving way to strident dismay. Confused, she called to speak to a representative for the insurer Magnolia Health. “’You tellin’ me if I get a hospital bill for $100,000, I gotta pay $40,000?’ And she said, ‘Yes, ma’am.’”

Never mind that the Magnolia worker was wrong — her out-of-pocket costs were legally capped at $6,350. Gary figured with a hospital bill that high, she would have to file for bankruptcy anyway. So really, she thought, what was the point?

“This ain’t worth a tooth,” she said.

She canceled her coverage.

The first year of the Affordable Care Act in Mississippi was, by almost every measure, an unmitigated disaster. In a state stricken by diabetes, heart disease, obesity and the highest infant mortality rate in the nation, President Barack Obama’s landmark health care law has barely registered, leaving the country’s poorest and perhaps most segregated state trapped in a severe and intractable health care crisis. Continue reading

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Vaccination rates lower among US adults born abroad

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Vaccine SquareBy Milly Dawson
Health Behavior News Service

Nationality at birth appears to play a significant role in whether or not adults in the United States are routinely vaccinated for preventable diseases, a new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine finds, reflecting a risky medical lapse for more than one in ten people nationwide.

Foreign-born adult U.S. residents, who make up about 13 percent of the population, receive vaccinations at significantly lower rates than U.S.-born adults.

Foreign-born adult U.S. residents make up about 13 percent of the population.

This gap poses special risks for certain groups of people who are vulnerable to many serious and sometimes deadly diseases that vaccines can prevent.

The study’s lead author, Peng-Jun Lu, MD, PhD, a researcher at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, noted the rise in the foreign-born population in the United States, which stood at only five percent in 1970.

“As their numbers continue to rise, it will become increasingly important to consider this group in our efforts to increase vaccination and eliminate coverage disparities,” he said. Continue reading

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