Coalition News

NATIONAL. Republicans Are Remarkably Good At Uniting Opposition Against Themselves (The New York Times)

By VIKAS BAJAJ and STUART A. THOMPSON SEPT. 25, 2017

Despite the likely demise of the latest Republican health care bill, it achieved one stunning feat: it united patient advocacy groups and most of the health care industry in opposition to it.

Four Republican senators have declared their opposition to the bill, one more than is needed to defeat it. Some of them were no doubt swayed by the size and diversity of groups that quickly stood up to oppose the legislation. Hospitals joined ranks with insurance companies, while insurers banded together with patient groups like the AARP. The legislation sponsored by senators Lindsay Graham, Bill Cassidy, Dean Heller and Ron Johnson was so objectionable that these disparate groups found common cause in opposing the bill.

Below, we list those we’ve been able to identify as for and against the bill. Conservative religious and anti-abortion groups favored the bill because it prevented people on Medicaid from using their insurance at Planned Parenthood clinics and prevented health care plans sold on the federal health care marketplace from covering abortion beyond existing limitations. This list is not complete, and we invite organizations that would like to be listed to contact us here.

ORGANIZATIONS

4SUPPORT

Christian Coalition of America

Family Research Council

National Right to Life

Susan B. Anthony List

Have we missed any? Let us know

110OPPOSE

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America

AARP

Adult Congenital Heart Association

ALS Association

Alzheimer's Association

Alzheimer's Impact Movement

Academy of Nurtition and Dietetics

America's Essential Hospitals

America’s Health Insurance Plans

American Academy of Family Physicians

American Academy of Pediatrics

American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network

American College of Emergency Physicians

American Psychological Association

American College of Physicians

American College of Preventive Medicine

American College of Rheumatology

American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

American College of Surgeons

American Diabetes Association

American Foundation for the Blind

American Health Care Association

American Heart Association

American Hospital Association

American Liver Foundation

American Lung Association

American Medical Association

American Nurses Association

American Occupational Therapy Association

Academy on Violence and Abuse

American Osteopathic Association

American Psychiatric Association

American Public Health Association

American Society for Addiction Medicine

American Society for Radiation Oncology

American Society of Clinical Oncology

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Amputee Coalition

Arthritis Foundation

Association for Community Affiliated Plans

Association of American Medical Colleges

Association of Oncology Social Work

Association of Public Health Associations

Association of University Centers on Disabilities

Autism Society

Autism Speaks

Autistic Self Advocacy Network

Big Cities Health Coalition

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NATIONAL. Here’s a list of medical groups opposing the Cassidy-Graham health-care bill (The Washington Post)

By Christopher Ingraham September 22

The Senate is having yet another go at repealing Obamacare, this time via legislation known as the Cassidy-Graham proposal. The bill was on life support Friday after Sen. John McCain signaled he would oppose the bill, lengthening the already long odds for its passage.

Among other things, the bill would remove protections for preexisting conditions, make deep cuts to Medicaid and end the Affordable Care Act's tax credits and cost-sharing subsidies.

The net result, according to a Brookings Institution analysis released Friday? Thirty-two million more people uninsured by 2027, relative to the current baseline...

This list is almost certainly incomplete, given the huge universe of advocacy groups focusing their efforts on conditions that sometimes affect only small numbers of people. But it gives a sense of the breadth and depth of the medical community's opposition to Republicans' latest attempt to repeal Obamacare.

Read more.

NATIONAL. Doctors, public health workers, patient advocates — even insurers — oppose latest ACA repeal (Science Blogs)

By Kim Krisberg

Senate Republicans are again trying to ram through an Affordable Care Act replacement that threatens the health and well-being of millions of Americans. It’s shameful. But don’t take my word for it. Let’s look at what people who actually work in health care are saying about the Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson bill.

In this interview, Sen. Bill Cassidy insists that his bill would protect people with pre-existing conditions. Blue Cross Blue Shield Association disagrees. (Cassidy also says in that same interview that his bill would work through the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which he said has been reauthorized. That’s totally false — CHIP has not been reauthorized and its funding expires Sept. 30.) But back to pre-existing conditions — here’s what Blue Cross Blue Shield had to say:

Although we support providing states with greater flexibility in shaping health care options for their residents, we share the significant concerns of many health care organizations about the proposed Graham-Cassidy bill. The bill contains provisions that would allow states to waive key consumer protections, as well as undermine safeguards for those with pre-existing medical conditions. The legislation reduces funding for many states significantly and would increase uncertainty in the marketplace, making coverage more expensive and jeopardizing Americans’ choice of health plans...

And let’s not forget public health. The ACA’s Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF) has become an absolutely critical source of funding for the nation’s public health agencies. Cassidy’s bill would eliminate that fund. Here’s what the Big Cities Health Coalition, a forum for the country’s largest metropolitan health departments, had to say about the fund’s potential elimination:

Among the programs at risk at the CDC are the 317 Immunization Program, Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity Grants, the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, and a host of chronic disease programs. The PPHF provides vital resources to governmental public health at all levels, and its elimination will further erode our fragile health system.

Eliminating public health programs that are now funded by the ACA would seriously undermine the ability of cities and counties to protect and promote health. The loss of hundreds of millions of dollars would hamper efforts to respond to food borne illness outbreaks, prevent emerging infectious diseases like Ebola and Zika, and respond to natural disasters like Hurricanes Irma and Harvey.

And in a letter to senators from the American Public Health Association, Executive Director Georges Benjamin writes:

The Graham-Cassidy plan would also eliminate the Prevention and Public Health Fund, the first and only mandatory funding stream specifically dedicated to public health and prevention activities. The fund has already provided more than $6 billion to support a variety of public health activities in every state including tracking and preventing infectious diseases like the Ebola and Zika viruses, community and clinical prevention programs, preventing childhood lead poisoning and expanding access to childhood immunizations. Eliminating the fund would devastate the budget of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The fund currently makes up 12 percent of CDC’s budget and eliminating this funding stream would force Congress to replace the funding through the regular appropriations process where resources for nondefense discretionary programs are already too low.

Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson is a threat to America’s health. If you’d like to voice your opinion, the American Public Health Association has an easy-to-use template to help you reach your representatives in Congress. For more information on the ACA replacement, NPR has a fantastic explainer.

Kim Krisberg is a freelance public health writer living in Austin, Texas, and has been writing about public health for 15 years. Follow me on Twitter — @kkrisberg.

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MINNEAPOLIS. White House cuts to federal grants endanger sex education for teens (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

By Judy Keen

Founded 46 years ago by faith leaders, Annex Teen Clinic provided sexual health services to 1,782 youth in 2016. It takes its message to public schools, contributing to a dramatic drop in Hennepin County’s teen birthrate. Annex installs health mentors in some schools to work one-on-one with students and provides training for teachers and parents, in addition to its clinical services.

Now some of the clinic’s programs and jobs, and other Hennepin County efforts to prevent teen pregnancy, are at risk. President Donald Trump’s administration in July announced an abrupt end — two years early — to what were supposed to be five-year grants specifically aimed at preventing teen pregnancy.

In all, the U.S. Health and Human Services Department notified 81 programs in 31 states and the District of Columbia that $214 million in funding will end June 30, 2018, instead of in 2020.

Officials here and across the country are fighting to save the grants, but worry that the Republican-controlled Congress will not restore funding. Hennepin County Commissioner Mike Opat said he’ll urge the county to fill the gap if its appeal fails...

Efforts to reverse the grants’ demise have spread across the country. Health officials from 20 U.S. cities have written to HHS Secretary Tom Price to denounce the grants’ elimination. Minnesota Reps. Keith Ellison, Betty McCollum and Tim Walz are among 148 House Democrats who sent a July 25 letter to Price demanding an explanation within 45 days for the decision, which came just three months after Congress voted to provide full funding for the latest grants.

“At a time when young people are most in need of information and education to protect their sexual and reproductive health, this administration is denying evidence and science,” the legislators wrote.

Read more. 

NATIONAL. Trump Administration Abruptly Cuts Funding to Teen Pregnancy Prevention Programs. (NBCNEWS)

By Elizabeth Chuck

In the meantime, health commissioners from 20 large cities have written to Price, pleading for a change of heart.

"Cutting TPPP funding and shortening the project period will not only reverse historic gains made in the U.S. in reducing teen pregnancy rates, but also make it difficult to truly understand what practices are most effective in our communities across the nation," the letter, from the Big Cities Health Coalition, read.

Senate Democrats wrote a letter, too, calling the move "short-sighted." They also praised the teen pregnancy prevention program as a "pioneering example of evidence-based policymaking."

"Despite these successes, HHS has apparently elected to eliminate the final two years of TPP Program grants without cause or a rationale for the termination," they wrote.''

Read more.

NATIONAL. Trump Administration Cuts Down Funding for Teen Pregnancy Prevention Programs. (Christianity Daily)

by Jessica Lim

Federal funding for teen pregnancy prevention programs around the country was stripped last month by the Trump Administration. A five year-grant that was awarded to 81 organizations in the country has now been cut to three years.

Teen pregnancy rates in the United States has dropped continuously over the last two decades, going from 61.8 births per 1,000 females between the ages of 15 and 19 to 24.2 births per 1,000 teen females in 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Though there is a steep decline in 2010 when the grant from the Department of Health and Human Service took effect, some argue that the grants may have influenced this trend, but are not the only reason.

“Some of that leaves you scratching your head wondering, why mess with success?” stated Bill Albert, chief innovation officer at the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.

The loss of funding for these programs has pushed health commissioners that are a part of the Big Cities Health Coalition to write a letter to the Secretary of the Depart of Health and Human Services, Thomas Price, which stated that “cutting TPPP funding and shortening the project period will not only reverse historic gains made in the U.S. in reducing teen pregnancy rates, but also make it difficult to truly understand what practices are most effective in our communities across the nation.”

Read more.

NATIONAL. Why Are Teen Pregnancy Programs Getting Cut? (CityLab)

By Allstair Boone

The teen birth rate in the U.S. is at a record low: Since 1991, it’s declined by 67 percent. A large chunk of that drop occurred in the last 6 years, when the Obama Administration’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program began.

Now, in its second round of grants, the TPP Program (not to be confused with the trade agreement) is currently funding 84 communities across the country. Between 2010 and 2016, the years during which TPP funds started flowing, the national rate plunged 41 percent.

Lawmakers and public health advocates have voiced dismay about the cuts to TPP. A group of Democratic lawmakers—37 senators and 149 representatives—have written to Health and Human Services secretary Tom Price, asking for an explanation. The nonprofit Big Cities Health Coalition—a forum for leaders of America’s largest metropolitan health departments—sent a letter to Price, appealing this decision. The group emphasized a key concern with the early end to the program—the cuts will make it more difficult for researchers to obtain the evidence-based results that measure the effectiveness of individual programs:

Read more.

NATIONAL. Why the Trump administration is cutting teen pregnancy prevention funding. (CNN)

By Jacqueline Howard

The Office of Adolescent Health's Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program currently funds 84 grants to reduce teen pregnancy across clinics, schools and communities, by implementing and evaluating prevention programs and supporting technology- and program-based approaches, according to the office's website. Their end date is now June 30.

Members of the Big Cities Health Coalition, a coalition of health officials from the 28 largest cities in the US, wrote a joint letter to Price last month urging him to reconsider the decision to cut the project period and funds.

The letter indicated that teen birth rates in the US dropped to a record low last year, following a long-term trend, and the letter suggested that reducing funding for teen prevention programs might reverse that trend.

"Cutting TPPP funding and shortening the project period will not only reverse historic gains made in the US in reducing teen pregnancy rates, but also make it difficult to truly understand what practices are most effective in our communities across the nation," the letter said.

Patty Hayes, director of public health for Seattle and King County, said she has seen the teen prevention programs have a positive impact in her community.

"We have been so successful in King County with our teen pregnancy rates reducing by 55%" since 2008, said Hayes, who also signed the Big Cities Health Coalition letter.

"If something works, you invest in it," she said. "We need for our community to respect science, to move forward with this and to make sure that we are not moving backwards. ... I'm very wound up about this."

Read more.

NATIONAL. Pregnancy Prevention Groups Scramble After Cuts. (U.S. News)

By Gabrielle Levy

The Hill reported Friday that the decision last month to pull the plug two years early on five-year grants made as part of the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program came in some cases with no notice and no explanation. The Department of Health and Human Services informed 81 organizations participating in the program that their grants, totaling $213 million, would end in June 2018. Officials said in a statement the decision was due to "very weak evidence of positive impact of these programs."

The paper also talked to Dr. Leana Wen, health commissioner in Baltimore, where a program to decrease the teen birth rate will lose $3.5 million.

"We don't have another way to fill this deficit. This will leave a huge hole in our ability to deliver health education," Wen said.

Read more.

NATIONAL.Trump administration cuts short teen pregnancy prevention program funding. (CBS News)

By Kathryn Watson

The Department of Health and Human Services is cutting off grants for teen pregnancy prevention programs across the country, leaving the groups that receive the grants -- and Democratic members of Congress -- perplexed. 

"These notices of shortened project periods are highly unusual, especially given that Congress has yet to act on FY 2018 appropriations," a July 21 letter from 37 Democratic senators reads. "This action is short-sighted and puts at risk the health and well-being of women and our most vulnerable youth who depend on the evidenced-based work that TPP Program grantees are doing across the nation."

"It would be fanciful at best to say these programs were solely responsible for the decline, of course that's not the case," Albert said. 

But he believes the funding has contributed to the continuing downward trend. 

"Some of that leaves you scratching your head wondering, why mess with success?" Albert said.

Read more.

NATIONAL. Local Health Officials Sound Alarm on Trump Efforts to Defund Teen Pregnancy Prevention. (Route Fifty)

By Quinn Libson

Last month, the federal Office of Adolescent Health, which is overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services, informed researchers, local health workers and educators that the grant funding for 81 teen pregnancy prevention programs which was intended to last for five years would be cut short two years early—a decision that took place outside the normal budgeting process.

The city of Baltimore, as The Washington Postrecently reported, is one of the places affected by the funding cut. Health programs run by the city will lose out on $3.5 million dollars set to support classes in anatomy and physiology as well as counseling on issues related to sex for 20,000 teens. The money would have also provided training for 115 teachers. While Baltimore has made progress on reducing teen births—the rate dropped by nearly a third from 2009 to 2013—there’s still much work to be done. The teen pregnancy rate in Baltimore remains significantly higher than the national average.

King County, Washington, which includes Seattle, is like many of the other grant recipients. The $5 million in funding there pays for more than curriculum, programming and teacher training. The federal funding is also spent on figuring out just how well all of those efforts are working.

“One key principle for our work in public health is that we act based on science and evidence,” Patty Hayes, director of public health in King County told KNKX public radio. “We need the evidence that a new system or rule or intervention is necessary—and that it’s effective.” The county is currently in the process of collecting efficacy data on FLASH, a curriculum developed by the county and implemented in schools throughout the South and the Midwest. As many as 4,000 students are affected.

Read more.

NATIONAL. Programs that Fight Teenage Pregnancy Are at Risk of Being Cut (The New York Times)

By Pam Belluck

Health commissioners from 20 large cities are protesting, writing to Tom Price, the health and human services secretary, that cutting funding will not only reverse historic gains made in the U.S. in reducing teen pregnancy rates, but also make it difficult to truly understand what practices are most effective.

Read more.

NATIONAL. Teen Pregnancy Program Surprised by Trump Cuts (NewsMax)

By Theodore Bunker

President Donald Trump's administration has issued widespread funding cuts at short notice, including one to the Teen Pregnancy Prevention program.

"There was no communication about the reason. The notice of the award just stated that instead of a five-year grant, it is now a three year grant," Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen told The Hill.

The city's health department administered one of the TPP-funded initiatives with the aim of bringing down the teen birth rate, which is three times the national average. The program loses $3.5 million over two years without the grant, leaving 20,000 students without access to reproductive health education and related services.

"We don't have another way to fill this deficit. This will leave a huge hole in our ability to deliver health education," she added.

The health commissioners from 20 cities wrote to HHS secretary Tom Price in July, warning that these cuts "will not only reverse historic gains made in the U.S. in reducing teen pregnancy rates, but also make it difficult to truly understand what practices are most effective.

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NATIONAL. Daily News Roundup: Groups Fighting Teen Pregnancy Set to Lose Millions (The Chronicle of Philanthropy)

Some 80 organizations that provide education about abstinence, contraception, and sexually transmitted diseases would lose federal funding next year under the White House budget plan, which calls for eliminating the Obama administration’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, writes The New York Times. 

Read More.

 

NATIONAL. Critics decry Trump gutting teen pregnancy prevention grants (The Washington Times)

By Tom Howell Jr.

The Trump administration is cutting short a batch of Teen Pregnancy Prevention grants, angering big-city health department chiefs who said Wednesday they will no longer be able to figure out what’s working to cut pregnancy rates.

For instance, Seattle and King County schools in Washington wanted to know whether their sexed curriculum, known as FLASH, caused students to delay having sex or whether those who did used condoms or other forms of birth control.

“Now the money will be yanked from us midstream,” said Patty Hayes, the region’s public health director. “We won’t have the funding to gather the final data and analyze the results.”

Baltimore stands to lose $3.5 million, and Health Commissioner Leana Wen said city official

Senate Democrats last month told HHS Secretary Thomas Price that his decision to shorten the grant period unilaterally was “highly unusual,” particularly since Congress hasn’t acted on funding bills for fiscal 2018.

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NATIONAL. Trump administration looks to cut funds for pregnancy prevention programs (Becker's Hospital Review)

By Kelly Gooch

The Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, started under former President Barack Obama, would be cut in the White House's proposed budget. TPPP funds projects that don't solely focus on abstinence, but also teach about contraception and sexually transmitted diseases, according to the report.

But not everyone is on board. In a July letter to HHS Secretary Tom Price, MD, health commissioners from large U.S. cities said cutting funding for teen pregnancy prevention programs "will end important prevention programs and research projects already underway."

"As you well know, many of these awards now slated to end two years early are funding rigorous — and needed — evaluation research meant to insure that programs in local communities across the country are as effective as they can possibly be and identify best, innovative practices for moving forward," the letter reads.

The health commissioners added the U.S. has seen a significant decline in teen pregnancy — to about 20.3 births per 1,000 15-to-19-year-old girls last year — but said the rate "is still substantially higher than other industrialized nations. Additionally, racial/ethnic and geographic disparities in teen birth rates persist, many of which occur in our jurisdictions."

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NATIONAL. Abrupt Trump cuts to teen pregnancy program surprise groups (The Hill)

By Jessie Hellman

The Trump administration has abruptly cut short grant programs aimed at ending teen pregnancy, leaving the institutions that receive the funds scrambling for answers. 

An office within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) notified 81 institutions across the U.S. that the five-year grants they were awarded would end two years sooner than planned.

The TPPP has funded initiatives in 39 states, including one run by the Baltimore City Health Department.

“There was no communication about the reason. The notice of the award just stated that instead of a five-year grant, it is now a three-year grant,” said Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen.

The Big Cities Health Coalition, which is made up of health officials from 28 major cities, called on Price on Wednesday to reconsider the decision to cut the funds and shorten the project period.

“Ending what was intended to be five year TPPP grants two years early is highly disruptive to ongoing work in localities across the country. These cuts will negatively affect the lives of young people currently participating in these programs, and will mean fewer project jobs, fewer trained professionals, and reduced community partnerships,” the officials wrote in a letter to Price.

“Cutting TPPP funding and shortening the project period will not only reverse historic gains made in the U.S. in reducing teen pregnancy rates, but also make it difficult to truly understand what practices are most effective in our communities across the nation.” 

Read more.

NATIONAL. Science Says: Pregnant or trying? Don’t let Zika guard down (Associated Press)

By LAURAN NEERGAARD

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Zika virus may not seem as big a threat as last summer but don’t let your guard down — especially if you’re pregnant or trying to be.

While cases of the birth defect-causing virus have dropped sharply from last year’s peak in parts of Latin America and the Caribbean, Zika hasn’t disappeared from the region and remains a potential threat.

It’s hard to predict how much risk people face in locales with smoldering infection, or if cases might spike again. For now, pregnant women still are being urged not to travel to a country or area with even a few reported cases of Zika, because the consequences can be disastrous for a fetus’ brain ...

Back in the U.S., public health advocates worry that $1.1 billion Congress approved last year to study and fight Zika is running out — including funding for a birth defects surveillance program intended to monitor affected babies’ development and connect them to health services.

That surveillance is critical for knowing what’s going on, said Dr. Oscar Alleyne of the National Association of County and City Health Officials. “Otherwise we’re flying blind.”

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