HJ News and Resource Roundup 11/25/13 (Thanksgiving Edition!)

It’s been a while, but we’re back to give you the latest health justice news and resources in time for Thanksgiving! We’ll be discussing language barriers in the health insurance marketplaces, enrolling the homeless into Medicaid, African American health disparities, and the return of maternity services to a North Bronx hospital. Additionally, this roundup includes a special discussion of the health justice struggles in many Native American communities: as we celebrate with our families this holiday, let us not forget the ongoing oppression of America’s indigenous communities.

The Affordable Care Act

The rollout of the ACA has come under a lot of fire since the launch of the health insurance marketplaces in October. While we’re not ready to let the administration completely off the hook yet, we recognize that the ACA is a huge step forward for expanding health coverage. So here are some handy talking points that will help you win any Obamacare argument over the Thanksgiving holiday.

The Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Labor and the Treasury jointly issued final rules on mental health coverage under the ACA. The new rules require that most health insurance plans offer the same amount of coverage for mental health and substance abuse claims as they do for medical and surgical coverage.

The ongoing technical problems on Healthcare.gov, the federal health insurance website, have undermined Medicaid enrollment. States that are expanding their Medicaid programs under the ACA are facing additional challenges to enrolling the homeless.

As for those who will remain uninsured–low-income individuals in states not expanding Medicaid and undocumented immigrants–access to preventive care services will remain a challenge.

New research indicates that since the passage of health reform in Massachusetts (the precursor to the ACA), racial disparities in uninsured rates and access to preventive health services have been reduced. However, racial disparities in disease prevalence and cause of death persist.

The ACA and Immigrant/Language Access

In more ACA-related news, HHS has created a webpage on the Healthcare.gov website devoted to addressing immigrants’ questions about the health insurance marketplaces.

However, language access remains a problem. Language diversity and cultural differences among Asian Americans have made it challenging to enroll this population. Additionally, HHS recently announced that they will be delaying the launch of the Spanish language federal marketplace website, CuidadodeSalud.gov.

Native American Health

A recent research report commissioned by the Oneida Indian Nation demonstrates the harmful psychological impact of ongoing caricaturization and dehumanization of Native peoples.

Check out this lecture by Dr. Maria Yellow Horse-Brave Heart on American Indian women, historical trauma, PTSD, and healing.

In Michigan, a Native American Studies professor is spearheading an effort to reclaim indigenous diets and combat the crisis of diet-related obesity and health issues among Native Americans.

A Stanford student writes about the dire health care needs of the people of Rosebud Indian Reservation.

More on Health Discrimination and Health Disparities

The Centers for Disease Control recently published the 2013 Health Disparities and Inequalities report.

Blacks continue to face a higher rate of infant mortality than other racial/ethnic groups.

A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that Blacks are often misdiagnosed with vitamin D deficiency.

Findings from a survey of patients admitted to an urban emergency department in the Midwest show that black patients feel less comfortable asking for lower cost medications than white patients.

Abortion access in red states is a significant challenge for low-income rural women.

Here’s a history of HIV care for the LGBT community in Nevada.

NYC Hospital Closures

The Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) of NYC recently announced that they plan to reopen labor and delivery services at North Central Bronx Hospital. However, community groups, advocates, and labor groups plan to keep up the pressure to ensure that HHC brings back services in a timely manner and with community input.

The closure of Interfaith Medical Center has once again been put on hold. A bankruptcy judge deferred making a final determination on closing the central Brooklyn hospital and has instead assigned the case to mediation. Interfaith is a leading provider of psychiatric services in the borough.

More Local NY News

With mayor-elect Bill de Blasio heading to Gracie Mansion in January, everyone is talking transition. Check out this article on one member of de Blasio’s transition team who is thinking about health disparities.

Transgender activists in NY are fighting to repeal a Medicaid restriction that refuses coverage for gender affirmation surgeries.

A Note on Giving to Victims of Haiyan

Finally, in the spirit of giving, here’s a guide on how to give to disaster victims in the Philippines. You can also check this list of Filipino organizations accepting donations.

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