This month, House Speaker Paul Ryan presented the American Health Care Act (AHCA) to the American public. Many healthcare organizations, such as the American Medical Association and the American Hospital Association came out against it, as did AARP. In addition, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the AHCA would reduce the number of insured individuals by 24 million over the next decade. Despite making changes to the bill to satisfy both the more moderate and conservative wings of the party, Ryan pulled the bill on Friday, when it became apparent that it wouldn’t be able to garner enough votes to pass the House.
Related: IAPHS President Sandro Galea published an article this month in the Milbank Quarterly entitled Revisiting Burke: The AHCA and Freedom from Sickness. In it, he explores the philosopher Edmund Burke’s emphasis on building structures that safeguard well-being to create a context in which individual liberty can be enjoyed by all. Whereas much of the AHCA debate has focused on the importance of freedom “to” enjoy certain liberties (such as the choice to buy or not to buy health insurance), Galea asserts that freedom “from” certain threats, such as sickness or financial ruin, is equally important.
President’s proposed budget contains cuts to many research programs
Many were startled this month by the size of the cuts to government research budgets in the President’s proposed budget. NIH’s budget would be decreased by roughly one-fifth (or $6 billion), and its Fogarty International Center, which promotes medical research overseas, would be shuttered altogether. Though not specified, it appears NSF’s budget would be cut by approximately 10%.
How should we measure the distribution of health in a population?
To measure health equity, researchers must subdivide populations into smaller groups. But what is the best way to do this? In an article on the Health Affairs Blog, Sabine Vuik and colleagues presented the results from a series of questionnaires on this subject, sent out to a panel of 30 healthcare experts. Socioeconomic status was ranked as the most important criteria for segmentation, ahead of other criteria more directly linked to health, such as clinical groups, age, or long-term health conditions. Read more here.
Economic opportunity and protection from deportation are associated with lower rates of depression among undocumented immigrants
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which started in 2012, provided some undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US as children with 2 years of protection from being deported, a social security number, and the ability to apply for a work permit. Atheender S Venkataramani and colleagues published a study in The Lancet showing that individuals who were eligible for DACA were significantly less likely to meet screening criteria for moderate-to-severe depression.
CDC launches web app for 500 Cities Project
In 2015, the CDC began collaborating with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation on the 500 Cities Project, which provides city- and census tract-level estimates for important population health measures (eg, chronic disease risk factors, health outcomes, and clinical preventive service use). With the CDC’s new web app, users can now access this data. Try it out!
Got an idea for improving vaccination rates around the world?
The Gates Foundation released a new Grand Challenges Exploration Call this month. The Foundation is seeking innovative approaches to improving the timeliness of routine immunizations around the world–approaches that can realistically be implemented by governments in low-income settings. Deadline May 3rd.
Some more population health reads
The Pap smear: groundbreaking, lifesaving — and obsolete? (STAT, 3/1/2017)
We are never just scientists: The gender and racial gaps in scientific professions illustrate the need for greater inclusion at all levels (Scientific American Guest Blog, 3/8/2017)
America’s health and health care depend on preventing chronic disease (Huffington Post, 3/8/2017)
The World Health Organization made a big mistake on TB. It must fix it. (STAT, 3/13/2017)
Cystic fibrosis patients in Canada live a decade longer than US patients, study says (Wall Street Journal, 3/13/2017)
Obamacare pushed nonprofit hospitals to do good beyond their walls. Now what? (Kaiser Health News, 3/16/2017)
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