Affordable Care Act Anniversay Week and Supreme Court Hearings
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Publicity Push as Health Law's Court Date Nears
By JENNIFER STEINHAUER and ROBERT PEAR
Published: March 19, 2012
WASHINGTON — Republicans on Capitol Hill have put together a highly coordinated two-week renewed assault on the health care law, seizing on the legislation's second anniversary and the next week's oral arguments before the Supreme Court concerning its constitutionality.
On Monday, Congressional Republicans took to the floor of both chambers to denounce the law, presaging a vote in the House this week to dismantle the law's payment advisory board, the 26th legislative attack on the law in the Republican-controlled House in the 112th Congress.
Daily news conferences are planned on the Hill next week, featuring state attorneys general, lawmakers who are physicians and others.
Republican members are also holding sessions on Twitter, making videos and scheduling television interviews day and night, with one veteran lawmaker, Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, appearing on Fox News on Monday.
On the Senate floor on Monday, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin said, "The reason I ran for the United States Senate was primarily because of this law." Outside groups like the National Federation of Independent Business and Americans for Tax Reform are joining the efforts. Roughly 50 events are planned this week alone by party leaders and members.
Children and the ACA
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A Healthy Start: Protecting Great Gains for Children in the Affordable Care Act
Posted: 03/16/2012 4:35 pm
Since our founding almost forty years ago, the Children's Defense Fund has fought to ensure that all children in America receive the healthy start they need and deserve. Next week marks the second anniversary of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the federal health reform legislation, which has been a giant national step forward in reaching that goal. Although not yet fully implemented, millions of children have already benefited and millions more will be helped as additional benefits take effect in 2014. But these gains and a number of Medicaid protections that millions of Americans rely on could all be erased by challenges to the ACA and Medicaid in the U.S. Supreme Court this month. Some health reform opponents seek to undo decades of progress which would have far-reaching impact on children and an especially devastating impact on children of color.
The ACA protects and strengthens Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which have been lifelines to millions of children and their families especially in the current recession. In the last year more than 1.5 million children gained health coverage through Medicaid and CHIP, bringing the number of uninsured children in America -- still far too high -- to the lowest on record even before many of the benefits of the new law kick in. Under the ACA, Medicaid will see the largest expansion in 2014 since its creation in 1965, and Americans with incomes below 133 percent of the federal poverty level will be eligible for Medicaid coverage. This is crucial because before the ACA's enactment, Medicaid wasn't a guaranteed safety net available for everyone who fell on really hard times.
Ready to Learn Iniitiative
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Head Start centers to get free PBS Kids' educational apps
Chris Marlowe / March 9, 2012 8:00 am inShare.
PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) have launched a project to give away educational apps to Head Start centers, local PBS stations, and other organizations in underserved communities nationwide. It is the latest service from the Ready to Learn Initiative, an early learning effort led by PBS and CPB with funding from the U.S. Department of Education.
From now through September, PBS and CPB will work with Head Start centers and PBS stations nationwide to distribute download codes Head Start centers, Title I schools, and other community-based organizations in low-income areas that have devices for the use of children. Additionally, educators and families will be able to obtain codes for use on classroom and at-home devices.
What will "fix" young America?
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Scott Gerber is leading a movement to promote entrepreneurship as a solution to youth unemployment. But is one man's enthusiasm enough to keep such a campaign together?
March 6, 2012: 12:25 PM ET
By Colleen Leahey, reporter
FORTUNE -- Words tumble from Scott Gerber's mouth so passionately that he gasps every few sentences for air. The topic: American entrepreneurship. Launched less than two years ago, the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is the brainchild of the baby-faced 28 year-old and is now the driving force behind the #FixYoungAmerica campaign, which launched Monday on fundraising website IndieGoGo.
"We live in a very partisan society, where unfortunately not much gets above the fray if it's not headline news," says Gerber. "The real issues oftentimes fall by the wayside."
Gerber and his crew think that the importance of entrepreneurship often slips through the cracks. In response, the YEC has launched a campaign with over 40 partner organizations to promote entrepreneurial education, increase access to capital for startups, and encourage entrepreneurship within the Fortune 500 -- all in hopes of addressing youth unemployment. (The campaign tagline: "A solutions-based book and movement that aims to end youth unemployment and put young Americans back to work -- for good.")
Indeed, youth unemployment has remained stubbornly high. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 23% of 16-19 year olds, 13% of 20-24 year olds, and 9% of 25-34 year olds are jobless, as of January 2012. Since 2010, unemployment has decreased across the board. But the jobless rate for younger Americans is still higher than it is for those above the age of 34.
Preschool is Important!
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Does Preschool Matter?
By Jonah Lehrer
March 5, 2012
For many kids, the most important years of schooling come before they can even read. Consider the groundbreaking work of the Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman, who has repeatedly documented the power of early childhood education. One of his best case studies is the Perry Preschool Experiment, which looked at 123 low-income African-American children from Yspilanti, Michigan. (All the children had IQ scores between 75 and 85.) When the children were three years old, they were randomly assigned to either a treatment group, and given a high-quality preschool education, or to a control group, which received no preschool education at all. The subjects were then tracked over the ensuing decades, with the most recent analysis comparing the groups at the age of 40. The differences, even decades after the intervention, were stark: Adults assigned to the preschool program were 20 percent more likely to have graduated from high school and 19 percent less likely to have been arrested more than five times. They got much better grades, were more likely to remain married and were less dependent on welfare programs. This is why, according to Heckman and colleagues, every dollar invested in preschool for at-risk children reaps somewhere between eight and nine dollars in return.
The Importance of Oral Health
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Dental Professor to Congress: Oral Health is Vital
By Allison Bell
February 29, 2012
Letting Medicaid, Medicare and other health insurance programs exclude coverage for teeth is as foolish as letting the programs exclude coverage for arms, legs or other body parts, Dr. Burton Edelstein testified today in Washington.
Edelstein, a professor of dentistry and health policy at Columbia University, appeared at a hearing on the state of U.S. dental care that was organized by the primary health and aging subcommittee at the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee.
Subcommittee members reviewed the work of researchers from the Pew Center on the States, Washington, who reported earlier this week that patients with dental problems are flooding into emergency rooms, and that about 20% of emergency room visits in Minnesota are the result of dental problems.
Edelstein, the founding president of the Children's Dental Health Project, Washington, and a commissioner on the Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program Access Commission, said U.S. residents' inability to get timely dental care is a hidden epidemic.
One obstacle to helping low-income people get dental coverage and dental care is that "Congress, in its decisions about coverage, has only very recently recognized that dental services are essential to basic, primary, health care – and then only for children," Edelstein said, according to a written version of his remarks posted by the HELP Committee.
Obama and Text4Baby Joins Forces
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Obama Administration and Text4Baby join forces to connect pregnant women and children to health coverage and information
Builds on new health care law's efforts to expand coverage
WASHINGTON, Feb 28, 2012 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- The Centers for Medicaid & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced today that it will partner with Text4Baby, a free national health texting service, to promote enrollment in both Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and provide pregnant women and new mothers free text messages on important health care issues.
The announcement is part of activities marking the anniversaries of both the signing of the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009 (CHIPRA) and the launch of Text4Baby, whose partners include Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition, Voxiva, which provides the mobile health platforms, and a host of wireless carriers.
"As a mother, I know how important health coverage and health information is for pregnant women and new moms," said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "Through CHIPRA, the health care law and this partnership, we are helping more and more women across the country have the insurance and information they need to have healthy babies and keep them healthy as they grow up."
Autism in Minority Children
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Autism Not Diagnosed As Early In Minority Children: Study
WASHINGTON -- Early diagnosis is considered key for autism, but minority children tend to be diagnosed later than white children. Some new work is beginning to try to uncover why – and to raise awareness of the warning signs so more parents know they can seek help even for a toddler.
"The biggest thing I want parents to know is we can do something about it to help your child," says Dr. Rebecca Landa, autism director at Baltimore's Kennedy Krieger Institute, who is exploring the barriers that different populations face in getting that help.
Her preliminary research suggests even when diagnosed in toddlerhood, minority youngsters have more severe developmental delays than their white counterparts. She says cultural differences in how parents view developmental milestones, and how they interact with doctors, may play a role.
Consider: Tots tend to point before they talk, but pointing is rude in some cultures and may not be missed by a new parent, Landa says. Or maybe mom's worried that her son isn't talking yet but the family matriarch, her grandmother, says don't worry – Cousin Harry spoke late, too, and he's fine. Or maybe the pediatrician dismissed the parents' concern, and they were taught not to question doctors.
It's possible to detect autism as early as 14 months of age, and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that youngsters be screened for it starting at 18 months. While there's no cure, behavioral and other therapies are thought to work best when started very young.
Children Living in High-Poverty Areas
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New report on children living in high-poverty areas
BALTIMORE — Nearly 8 million of America's children live in high-poverty areas — about 1.6 million more since 2000 — according to a new KIDS COUNT ® Data Snapshot from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
The latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey (ACS) show that about 7.9 million, or 11 percent, of the nation's children are growing up in areas where at least 30 percent of residents live below the federal poverty level — about $22,000 per year for a family of four. In 2000, 6.3 million kids, or 9 percent, were living in such communities, which often lack access to resources that are critical to healthy growth and development, including quality education, medical care and safe outdoor spaces.
"Kids in these high-poverty areas are at risk for health and developmental challenges in almost every aspect of their lives, from education to their chances for economic success as adults," said Laura Speer, associate director for policy reform and data at the Casey Foundation. "Transforming disadvantaged communities into better places to raise children is vital to ensuring the next generation and their families realize their potential."
The snapshot also indicates that about 75 percent of children in areas of concentrated poverty have at least one parent with full-time, year-round employment.
According to the ACS, almost all states saw the number of children in high-poverty neighborhoods climb. States with the highest rates were Mississippi (23 percent), New Mexico (20 percent), Louisiana (18 percent), Texas (17 percent) and Arizona (16 percent). Although the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico saw their rates decline over the same period, they continue to have higher rates — 32 and 83 percent, respectively — than any state in the country.
Infant Mortality Rates High in the U.S.
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Shame on Us: Intolerable Inequality in U.S. Infant Mortality
Author: Glenn D Braunstein, M.D.
Posted: 02/21/2012 4:42 pm
In Boston, a construction worker, ravaged by burns, successfully underwent a total face transplant. In San Antonio, surgeons have injected a glue-like substance that hardens and prevented the bursting of a woman's brain aneurysm. And in my own institution, researchers have shown that stem cells from a patient's own heart can help regenerate tissue and repair damage caused by a heart attack.
Every day the headlines are filled with breath-taking reports about the advances in American medicine. But even as it leads the planet in medical and scientific accomplishments, the United States also has some downright shameful disparities in its health care, and one of the worst is in the area of infant mortality.
Every year about 30,000 babies in our nation, a disproportionate number of them African Americans, die before reaching their first birthday.
U.S.: Laggards of industrial world
Last year, the infant mortality rate in the United States was an estimated 6.06 deaths per 1,000 live births, just ahead of Croatia, but lagging behind all of industrialized Europe and Asia.
For African Americans, the rate is worse. In 2007, the most recent year that a comparison is available, there were 13.3 deaths per 1,000 live births for African Americans, compared to 5.6 for whites.