House passes a budget bill with drastic cuts to public health; CDC issues warning about sun tanning for young adults; whooping cough epidemic declared in Washington state. Those top stories and more making public health headlines today, Friday, May 11, 2012.
Modern Healthcare – House passes bill that cuts health programs while sparing defense
On Wednesday, the American Public Health Association sent a letter to House members that urged lawmakers to vote against the bill, which includes provisions to repeal the healthcare reform law’s Prevention and Public Health Fund; reduce funding for both Medicaid and CHIP; and cut about $36 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which the association said would eliminate benefits to about 2 million Americans.
Associated Press – CDC: Young adults ignoring skin-cancer warnings
The warnings about skin cancer from too much sun don’t seem to be getting through. Half of U.S. adults under 30 say they have had a sunburn at least once in the previous year — about the same as a decade ago, according to a government survey released Thursday. In fact, the modest progress reported five years ago has been wiped out. Not only that, but women in their 20s are going to tanning salons almost twice a month on average. “I don’t know that we’re making any headway,” said Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, the American Cancer Society’s deputy chief medical officer.
Baltimore Sun – The medical establishment is ill-suited to deal with America’s obesity epidemic
It is well known among physicians that a diagnosis code of obesity on your insurance claim can get you rejected for payment. A lot of patients do not have coverage for obesity. Insurers will pay for hypertension, diabetes, osteoarthritis, heart attacks, sleep apnea, low testosterone, congestive heart failure and strokes — all consequences of obesity — but they won’t pay for treating obesity itself.
Chicago Tribune – Anti-obesity program doesn’t help teen girls: study
An intensive obesity-prevention program for Australian girls didn’t lead to any improvements in their diet, physical activity or body weight a year later, according to a new report. Findings from the school-based intervention, which involved exercise sessions and nutrition workshops for lower-income girls, are the latest disappointment in a slew of research attempting to head-off adult obesity — and the disease risks that come with it.
Wall Street Journal – The Tax Code Diet
Beware of scientists who moonlight as politicians. A case in point is this week’s Institute of Medicine obesity report that endorses far more regulation of food, business, real estate, health care, transportation, the works. “The Weight of the Nation” is one of those prestige doorstops—at some 462 pages it’s obese itself—that certain folks will herald as a landmark but deserves some skepticism before it comes to dominate elite opinion. The report even arrives with an epigraph from Goethe (“Knowing is not enough . . . we must do”) and a companion HBO documentary.
Washington Post – Washington state health officials declare whooping cough epidemic, seek CDC help as cases soar
Washington state’s worst outbreak of whooping cough in decades has prompted health officials to declare an epidemic, seek help from federal experts and urge residents to get vaccinated amid worry that cases of the highly contagious disease could spike much higher. It’s the first state to declare a whooping cough, or pertussis, epidemic since 2010, when California had more than 9,000 cases, including 10 deaths. Washington has had 10 times the cases reported in 2011, and so has Wisconsin with nearly 2,000 cases this year, though that state has not declared an epidemic.
Washington Post – NJ gov vetoes bill creating online marketplace for subsidized health insurance under Obama act
Gov. Chris Christie on Thursday vetoed legislation that would set up a state health insurance exchange as part of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, saying the state shouldn’t rush to enact such a law and possibly create new burdens on taxpayers while the constitutionality of the federal act remains to be decided. “Because it is not known whether the Affordable Care Act will remain, in whole or in part, it would be imprudent for New Jersey to create an exchange at this moment in time before critical threshold issues are decided with finality by the court,” the Republican governor said in announcing his veto.