Investing in a Healthier America: The Role of Social Determinants

This briefing examined the challenges of aligning or combining public funding sources to achieve better health outcomes, how analysts can prove value in such ventures, and the role of health care professionals in caring for patients who have both medical and non-medical needs.






Zika Virus: Control, Monitoring, and Prevention

At our briefing for reporters at the National Press Club, NIH’s Anthony Fauci provided an update on the state-of-play of the Zika virus in the U.S. A panel representing federal, state and local officials then discussed details of how the response will be coordinated and where resources are needed.






Workplace Wellness: Promises, Challenges, and Legal Questions

Employers have long been advancing a variety of efforts to engage their employees in their health care, reduce absenteeism, and decrease the cost of employee health benefits. Recently, however, some employer wellness programs offering significant incentives for participation–or penalties for nonparticipation–have raised legal issues regarding privacy and discrimination and are the subject of a recent proposed rule from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).






Zika Virus: Considerations for Public Health and Health Care Systems

This briefing will explore policy considerations to ensure that public health and health care systems are appropriately equipped to monitor, prepare for, and respond to Zika virus, as well as other future vector-borne outbreaks. While there have not been any cases of local transmission identified in the continental U.S., this mosquito-borne disease has captured the attention of public health and health care officials across the nation, especially as warmer weather approaches. As of April 27, 2016, 426 travel-associated Zika cases were reported in the United States and 596 locally-acquired cases were reported in U.S. territories.






Beyond Flint: Examining Water Quality Regulation

While the national news media and presidential candidates have focused on the water crisis occurring in Flint, Michigan, the city is not the only one facing a contaminated water system. With infrastructure over a century old, outdated regulatory legislation, and difficult-to-track contaminants entering our water, the federal government is tasked with solving current problems and mitigating future ones.






The Connection between Health and Housing: The Evidence and Policy Landscape

Evidence is growing that housing, a social determinant of health, is an important factor in the health status of various populations. According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), more than 610,000 people experience homelessness in the U.S., and over 250,000 individuals within that population have a severe mental illness or a chronic substance use disorder. A new Alliance toolkit, “The Connection between Health and Housing: The Evidence and Policy Landscape,” provides a detailed look into federal, state and local initiatives, as well as cost implications for health and housing programs.

Between Two Worlds: Adolescents and Our Health Care System

Adolescence is a time of physical, emotional, and cognitive transition between the worlds of childhood and adulthood. This time can include the onset of chronic conditions such as obesity, hypertension, and schizophrenia, yet teens may have difficulty accessing appropriate care for their physical and mental health needs. Emerging models around the country may be improving adolescents’ access to appropriate care, but the evidence suggests many needs are not being met.






Curbing The Ebola Outbreak: Are We on the Right Track?

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently declared a public health emergency due to the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa, which has accounted for over 13,000 reported cases and 4,800 deaths. Some imported and locally acquired cases in health care workers have also been reported in the United States. As a result, concerns about the further escalation of this epidemic and how to best prepare for and contain this deadly disease exist in both the U.S. and abroad.






Health Centers at the Launch of the Coverage Expansion

The coverage expansion under the Affordable Care Act brings new pressures and opportunities for health centers, including the potential to serve newly-insured patients while continuing as a cornerstone of the primary care safety net for the uninsured. At the same time, health centers are in the midst of rapid transformation brought about in part by recent federal investments in health center capacity and delivery system improvements, even as they face uncertainty about future state and federal funding.






What’s Preventing Prevention?

Preventive services were a priority in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), which required that a set of services be available to consumers with no cost sharing. This has improved access for some people to some services. But persistent barriers for consumers are limiting the utilization of preventive services. These barriers include the variability of insurance coverage, the affordability of out-of-pocket costs, the challenges of education and outreach, and the funding of public health initiatives.






Public Health Preparedness: Are We Ready for Disaster?

Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and the subsequent anthrax assaults, the federal government began to reevaluate the nation’s preparedness for public health emergencies. Since then, the nation has been hit by massive floods, hurricanes and other disasters, and last year Hurricane Sandy swept up the east coast, crippling several states and nearly exhausting emergency services. Despite the continued need for a strong emergency response infrastructure to combat natural disasters, reemerging diseases, pandemics and food-borne illnesses, state health department budgets have been shrinking.






Chronic Disease Prevention: Saving Lives, Saving Money

With a continued focus on the need to control the high and rising cost of care, Congress is looking for low cost, high yield policy solutions. Chronic illnesses are among the biggest drivers of growing health care costs, and a drain on worker productivity in our nation. For example, researchers note that per person health care spending for obese adults is 56 percent higher than for normal-weight adults. Diabetes and other chronic illnesses can be prevented or greatly delayed with solutions beyond or outside of medical care. Many fall into the category of health-related behaviors, such as whether we smoke, get exercise, eat a healthy diet– factors that are newly falling into the spheres of public health or population health.






Worker Wellness Programs: Do They Work?

Starting in 2014, employers will be allowed to charge their workers up to 30 percent more for health insurance premiums if they don’t meet certain health goals, under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). An Alliance for Health Reform briefing, “Worker Wellness Programs: Do They Work?” explained the provisions in the law, and examined employer efforts to improve worker wellness, along with evidence about savings.






Health Care Costs: The Role of Technology and Chronic Conditions

This is the second event in a three-part series of discussions on costs, the factors driving them up and what (if anything) can be done about them. The series marks the Alliance for Health Reform’s 20th year of promoting informed and balanced discussion of health policy issues.






Preventing Chronic Disease: The New Public Health

There is a national epidemic of chronic disease. Though it does not get the news coverage devoted to floods and tornadoes, it deserves attention and is starting to get it. There is a groundswell of activity in local communities to support healthier lifestyles and help people make long-lasting and sustainable changes that can reduce their risk for chronic diseases. A number of provisions in the health reform law are aimed directly at improving population health by addressing conditions where Americans live, learn, work, and play – at their schools, worksites, restaurants and more.






The $174 Billion Question: How to Reduce Diabetes and Obesity

Diabetes and obesity have evolved from a national public health concern to a problem of epidemic proportions. Type 2 diabetes, which is linked to obesity and physical inactivity, accounts for 90 to 95 percent of diabetes cases for people over 40. Moreover, in 2007 an estimated 57 million American adults had “pre-diabetes,” the precursor to diabetes. Childhood obesity, which has more than tripled in the last three years, impacts these numbers because obese children are at greater risk of developing diabetes as an adult.






Workplace Wellness Programs, Healthy Behaviors and Health Reform

Unhealthy behavior is costing America billions in health care expenditures, and making us less healthy as a people. Many large employers, recognizing the impact on the health of their workers and the companies’ bottom lines, offer financial incentives to their employees to exercise regularly, improve their diets, lose weight and quit smoking, among other things. Many employers cite substantial savings from these programs in their health coverage costs.