House approves cuts to Prevention and Public Health Fund; some argue alcohol ads on city busesare inappropriate; Children’s Hospital Boston a good test case in controlling cost. Those stories and more topping public health news today, Monday, April 30, 2012.
The Public’s Health – Outrage at the latest cuts to public health funding
Late last week the American Public Health Association launched a campaign opposing dramatic cuts to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Prevention and Public Health Fund. The cuts, passed as part of a Republican House bill to preserve the current low interest rates in federally subsidized student loans, would wipe out $6 billion in the Fund. A proposed Senate bill to be taken up next month alternatively preserves the current interest rates by closing a tax loophole “that allows wealthy individuals to avoid paying the same income taxes that middle-class Americans pay.” The president has threatened a veto of the Republican-passed bill.
Politico – 5 prevention programs GOP hopes to target
The fight in Congress over the Prevention and Public Health Fund may rage on for a while longer. Republicans voted last week to eliminate what they termed as a “slush fund” as a way to prevent a large increase in student loan rates. Democrats disagree and will keep pushing for other student loan pay-fors. The prevention fund already has been hit with a $5 billion cut this year.
New York Times – How One Hospital Bent the Cost Curve
In an article in The Times on Sunday, I look at whether there is more than meets the eye in the slowdown in health care costs. Economists anticipated that the recession and sluggish recovery would depress the rate of growth. But the slowdown was more than they expected, prompting a debate about whether doctors and patients are doing the seemingly impossible: bending the cost curve years before the most aggressive cost-saving provisions of the Affordable Care Act, the Obama health care law, come into effect. Many economists and health policy specialists think that changes made by insurers, hospitals and doctors to emphasize the quality of care rather than the quantity of care is a major factor, and Children’s Hospital Boston offers a good test case.
LATimes – Teens with diabetes have trouble managing it, study says
New research sends a stark warning to overweight teens: If you develop diabetes, you’ll have a very tough time controlling it. A major study released Sunday tested several ways to manage blood sugar in teens newly diagnosed with diabetes and found that nearly half of the teens failed to control their blood sugar within a few years and that 1 in 5 suffered serious complications. The results spell trouble for a nation facing rising rates of “diabesity,” Type 2 diabetes brought on by obesity.
Boston Globe – Are We Making Progress on Costs & Obesity? Let’s Step It Up…
I observe a tendency in both human nature and public policy to see progress in a difficult situation and to declare victory prematurely. Often it turns out that the early victory signs were ephemeral and an opportunity to secure more enduring change gets missed. Two related examples of that are happening right now, both involve national and Massachusetts health policy choices. One involves rising health care costs, and the other the obesity epidemic and sugar sweetened beverages. Let’s first look at costs. Top of the front page story in today’s New York Times reports what health policy wonks, myself included, have been noting for more than a year now — a real deceleration in rate of growth in U.S. health spending over the past two years. It’s partly driven by the recession, partly by the growth in high deductible health insurance plans, and at least partly by other factors.
Pittsburg Post-Gazette – Public transit alcohol ads may prove to be costly
To the editors who proposed raising a toast to the Port Authority’s decision to allow alcohol advertising on buses and trolleys (“Driven to Drink? Alcohol Ads on Buses Make Sense in Sobering Times,” April 23): Put down your glass. To think we need not be concerned with kids’ exposure to alcohol advertising because they can’t legally buy alcohol is deeply misguided. More youth in the United States drink alcohol than smoke tobacco or marijuana, making it the most popular drug among American young people.