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Health Equity and Access Weekly Roundup: April 13, 2024

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This week the Center on Health Equity and Access spotlighted National Minority Health Month with the launch of a podcast and feature series. Also, new data on "deaths of despair," medication, and clinical access.

Making Giant Strides in Maternity Health Through Baby Steps

In celebration of National Minority Health Month, The American Journal of Managed Care® launched a month-long podcast series in partnership with UPMC Health Plan. The first episode focuses on the Baby Steps Maternity Program, which supports women throughout their pregnancy. Diana P. Byas, manager of Maternity Care Management at UPMC Health Plan, discussed the program's features, its dedicated team, the significance of equitable maternity care for minority populations, and the importance of community collaboration for better maternal health outcomes.

Dr Mitzi Joi Williams Discusses Clinical Trial Accessibility Challenges, Solutions

Mitzi Joi Williams, MD, founder and medical director of Joi Life Wellness Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Center, shed light on the challenges of recruiting and retaining minority populations for clinical trials, particularly in MS research. With an emphasis on the need to enhance awareness and accessibility of clinical trials, she urged clinicians to adopt inclusive trial designs and engage in community outreach efforts. Williams further stressed the importance of addressing issues such as lack of awareness, mistrust, and accessibility barriers faced by minority communities, advocating for a multistakeholder approach to improve trial accessibility.

Institutional Practices for Charitable Medication Access for Uninsured Patients

A new study analyzed prescriptions of uninsured patients in a charitable care program at an academic medical center. Most prescriptions were for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and pain, with over half filled externally. The medical center covered 44% of prescriptions filled internally, costing $111,052. The researchers highlighted the need for a sustainable medication access mechanism and suggested developing a charitable medication formulary to improve care quality and cut costs.

Black and Native Americans Overwhelmed by "Deaths of Despair," UCLA Health Study Finds

Contrary to previous assumptions, a recent analysis published in JAMA Psychiatry found escalating mortality rates related to "deaths of despair," including suicide, drug overdose, and alcoholic liver disease, particularly impacting Black and Native American communities. Previous research identified the trend in middle-aged Americans; however, the highest rates were among White individuals. The latest study spans a longer period and included racial and ethnic groups previously excluded.

Confronting Deadly Maternal Health Disparities, Part 1: US Implements Doula Support

Despite widely publicized maternal morbidity and mortality rates, the root causes, particularly racial disparities, remain complex. Multiple experts from various areas of maternity care and coverage contributed to the first part of this feature series. Implicit biases contribute significantly, impacting care delivery and exacerbating systemic challenges. Initiatives like doula support show promise in mitigating disparities, but systemic changes, including policy mandates and financial incentives, are needed to address the maternal health crisis effectively.

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