APHA joins other public health organizations to protect the Prevention and Public Health Fund; major health benefits of EPA ruling on industrial boilers; Senate HELP Committee passes preparedness measure. Those headlines and more topping public health news today, Thursday, December 15, 2011.

Medical News Today – Prevention and Public Health Fund – Don’t Approve Cuts, APHA Urges Lawmakers
The U.S. house of Representatives is being urged by the American Public Health Association (APHA) to reject a proposal that would significantly reduce the amount of funding the Prevention and Public Health Fund receives. Alan Baker, interim executive director of APHA, explains: “Dramatic cuts to the Prevention and Public Health Fund is a lose-lose solution. Moving the current health care system even farther downstream by repealing critically needed investments in prevention and public health programs would be absolutely devastating to the nation’s health. It would also place a greater financial burden on an already strained system. This is a senseless and purely raw political move.”

Huffington Post – Payroll Tax Bill With Poison Pills Angers Environmental And Public Health Advocates
As Donald Hoppert, director of governmental affairs for the American Public Health Association, told reporters at the press conference, EPA’s recently proposed rule on industrial boilers would reduce air pollution and prevent up to 52,00 asthma attacks, 5,100 heart attacks and 8,100 premature deaths annually. The mercury, arsenic, lead and other pollutants in the air can also cause cancer, developmental disabilities in children and can damage the brain and nervous system of infants.

Modern Healthcare – Senate panel OKs preparedness measure
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee passed the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act Reauthorization of 2011, which will next be considered by the full Senate, according to a HELP Committee spokesman. The bill has the backing of the American Public Health Association, though the group believes the legislation does not provide state and local health departments with adequate flexibility in the redeployment of staff during a public health emergency, according to a letter to four senators who are among those sponsoring the bill. The recent outbreak of the H1N1 flu demonstrated the perils of inadequate staffing: States were often unable to respond quickly in providing vaccines, informing the public about prevention measures, and disseminating medications, according to the letter.

Modern Healthcare – Senator fights to keep an ounce of prevention free from pounds of budget cuts
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, had some harsh words this week for House Republicans, who have included cuts to a prevention fund he championed as a way to pay for an extension of current Medicare’s physician reimbursement rates.
“They don’t believe in prevention; they don’t believe in public health; they believe just go ahead and get sick and then somehow magically somebody is going to take care of you,” he told reporters Tuesday when asked about the proposed cuts to the Prevention and Public Health Fund.

FOX Business – Housing Crisis Leads More Seniors to Pursue In-Home Care
It used to be seniors in declining health and unable to care for themselves and their house had to decide whether to sell their home or seek home health care, but now, the economy is making the decision them.

Bloomberg – New Bipartisan Plan for Medicare May Give ‘Cover’ to Republicans
People 65 and older would choose among the traditional Medicare program and competing private insurers under a plan to curb rising health costs proposed by a prominent Republican U.S. House member and Democratic senator.

USAToday – Study: Higher hospital admissions equal higher readmissions
Efforts to reduce costly hospital readmissions have focused on improving patient care just after discharge. But much of the readmission problem may be due to an overuse of inpatient hospital services in the first place, a new study suggests.

Reuters – Study endorses HPV testing for all women over 30
New DNA tests looking for the virus responsible for most cases of cervical cancer make sense for all women aged 30 or over, since they can prevent more cases of cancer than smear tests alone, Dutch researchers said on Thursday.

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