New Partnership Will Help State Fight Health Inequities

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The state's Office of Health Strategy has announced a new partnership to help eliminate health inequities.

This is a huge collaboration between the state, local organizations and even federal groups. Connecticut was one of 10 states added to an initiative called "Strategie to Repair Equity and Transform Community Health," known as STRETCH.

The Office of Health Strategies says it's an initiative that gives them a leg up on work they've already been doing for years.

"What they are doing is building on a level of infrastructure funding for public health that we haven't seen in quite some time. And their goal is to really drive health equity into communities and community-led initiatives," Vicki Veltri, executive director for OHS said.

"The idea here is to build, take those health enhancement communities, make sure they have the level of infrastructure they need, the equity, expertise, that they need to ensure equity is driven into those interventions they pursue at the state level, and to help build a sustainability model for them," she added.

The OHS identified nine communities around the state that could use some help. That's where they're finding disparities with everything from maternal mortality to food insecurity.

According to a report by Data Haven, the rates of diabetes in Connecticut are higher among Black people - around 14% higher - than the white population.

There are also disparities in food insecurity. Black and Latino adults were more than twice as likely to experience food insecurity.

"A lot of communities have been identifying food insecurity as an issue. And you know, it's been well spoken about how we have food deserts. But really, those deserts are food swamps, as well, right. It's not just a lack of food, but it's a lack of healthy food that's available to people," Brent Miller, a consultant for OHS, said.

These are some of the issues the OHS hopes they can address thanks to STRETCH. Their goal, through training and collaboration, is to get at the root of the problem and fix these disparities for good.

"It's important to say in health care, generally, the health care system is designed generally to pay for treatment for people as opposed to pay for an early intervention that could offset costs and poor health outcomes down the road. This STRETCH initiative, in the Health Enhancement Community Initiative, why it's a natural partnership, is these initiatives do the exact opposite, which is to build equity in early and prevent conditions from occurring," Veltri said.

These issues don't just affect the identified communities - health inequities impact your bank account too. Unnecessary health care costs can raise your insurance premiums and the cost of Medicaid programs,

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