Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Healthcare.gov Marketplace Fact Sheets

If you’re a professional learning about the Marketplace and helping people apply, or if you’re a consumer ready to learn about and buy health insurance, below are links to quick Fact Sheets that may help you:
Go to the Health Insurance Marketplace website for more information and to enroll. 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Health Insurance Literacy Low Among Medicaid and Exchange Populations

Public Understanding of Basic Health Insurance Concepts on the Eve of Health Reform

Linda J. Blumberg, Sharon K. Long, Genevieve M. Kenney, and Dana Goin

A central objective of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is to reduce the number of Americans without health insurance. Providing the opportunity to purchase private insurance through the new health insurance Marketplaces (also called Exchanges) is one of the major ways in which this goal is to be achieved.

The people most likely to enroll in Marketplace-based coverage—those the ACA Marketplaces are specifically designed to help—are nonelderly adults with incomes above the national Medicaid-eligibility cutoff (138 percent of the federal poverty level, or FPL) who are currently uninsured or are purchasing individual coverage. Many qualify for Marketplace subsidies because they are not eligible to buy health insurance through an employer or other group coverage or because their available employer-sponsored coverage is unaffordable.

The new Marketplaces will offer a multitude of choices with differing costs and benefits, although all will include coverage within ACA-defined categories of essential health benefits. This brief focuses on how well the target population understands the concepts they will confront as they make their insurance choices.

Plenty of information will be available to them. States and the federal government will be providing a great deal of information on the multiple options available through the Marketplaces. Insurance agents, brokers, navigators, in-person assistors, and call center personnel will also be deeply involved in providing support to potential consumers. But insurance is a complex product, particularly for those without prior experience purchasing coverage. If consumers do not understand basic insurance concepts, they will find it hard to make the choices that best suit themselves and their families.

Go to http://hrms.urban.org/briefs/hrms_literacy.html to read the entire report.

Proven Ideas to Improve Insurance Enrollment

Proven Ideas to Improve Insurance Enrollment

A new report released by Maximizing Enrollment, an initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, highlights innovative approaches to support streamlining eligibility determinations and boosting enrollment of those eligible in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program—meaning that people have faster access to coverage and remain covered.

Since 2009, eight states have pursued unique approaches to manage programmatic changes aimed at lowering ‘disenrollment’ by improving communications with partner agencies and programs as well as those enrolled in health coverage; promoting data analysis to make informed decisions; and providing effective and innovative leadership. The lessons learned by these states, all of which participated in the Maximizing Enrollment program, are especially timely as the Affordable Care Act is implemented.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Funding Opportunity: Utah Cancer Control Program (UCCP) Request for Grant Applications (RGA)

The Utah Cancer Control Program (UCCP) is excited to release the attached "Request for Grant Applications" (RGA). Organizations may submit applications to receive $15,000 to $20,000 for projects fitting the "Scope of Work" in the RGA. The UCCP anticipates funding three to six awards. Applications must be submitted by January 21, 2014.

The application packet is available online at http://cancerutah.org/fy15awards/. A recording from the first technical assistance webinar, and a list of Frequently Asked Questions are available on this site. You may also register for the technical assistance webinar coming up on January 7.

Please pass this on to any of your contacts who may be interested. Opportunities are available to address primary prevention (physical activity and nutrition), as well as cancer screening.

Lynne Nilson, MPH, MCHES
Director Utah Cancer Control Program

Thursday, December 19, 2013

New National Survey of Pacific Islander Health

Posted by Kiran Ahuja on December 18, 2013 at 10:49 AM EST

Over the last four years at the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI), we have been working with federal agencies across the board to improve data collection, analysis, and dissemination of findings and reports on Asian Americans and Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (NHPIs).  We have been particularly focused on NHPIs, who, according to the 2010 U.S. Census, comprise just 0.4 percent of the total U.S. population, making it difficult to include them in sufficient numbers in most national population-based health surveys. The lack of reliable health data for this population has made it difficult to assess their health status and health care utilization. However, the available data for this population indicates that Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders experience significant health disparities when compared to other groups, such as lower utilization of health care services and higher rates of chronic diseases, such as diabetes and obesity.

That's why we welcome the announcement made today that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will  launch the first-ever, large-scale national health survey to collect detailed health information on NHPI households<http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2013/p1217-pacific-islanders.html> - the Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander National Health Interview Survey. This information will be collected through HHS' National Health Interview Survey<http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhis.htm>, the nation's largest in-person, household health survey. Never before has there been a study of this scale to assess the health needs of NHPIs, and this type of survey has long been called for by the NHPI community. This important effort will help improve our understanding of the health concerns - from access to health care to health insurance coverage to rates of chronic diseases like diabetes or heart disease - faced by this community and to identify areas of opportunity for federal government to better address these concerns.

WHIAAPI encourages advocates and organizations across the country to join us in spreading the word about this landmark survey.  We hope you can continue the conversation with us on Twitter using #NHPI<https://twitter.com/search?q=%23NHPI&src=typd>.

Our hope is that the results of this study will provide researchers, policymakers, and community leaders with the data they need to understand and address disparities in health and health care, and provide lessons for data collection and analysis focused on small populations.

The Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander National Health Interview Survey will begin early next year, and the results will become available summer 2015.

Kiran Ahuja is the Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

Holiday Greetings from OHD and the White House

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Big Kids, Little City (a funny video about carpooling to protect air quality)

Winter inversions are here, and there's an app for that.

The Utah Division of Air Quality has released a free smart phone app for iphone and android users that keeps Utahns informed of forecasted bad air days, so you can plan to stay inside, avoid burning wood or coal, and reduce your vehicle emissions.  You can find the app in your app store, by searching for "Utah Air quality".

You can also subscribe to email alerts about local air quality.
Choose Clean Air: Air Quality notifications and air quality conditions in Utah. 
This listserv is especially valuable for those who are most vulnerable to air pollution: people with lung and heart disease, senior citizens, and children.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Study findings from U.S.D.A. on Effects of Nutrition Education Programs

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service released a study on the effects of well-designed nutrition education programs.  The study finds these programs "can lead to healthier food choices by participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)."  Further, "The study found that children participating in certain nutrition education programs increased their daily fruit and vegetable consumption at home by a quarter- to a third-cup, and were more likely to choose low-fat or fat-free milk. Participating seniors consumed about a half-cup more fruits and vegetables daily."

For more information visit U.S.D.A at http://www.fns.usda.gov/supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program-education-and-evaluation-study-wave-ii

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Job opening: STD Prevention Coordinator at UDOH

Recruitment Status: Open
Salary Range: $20.50/hr starting salary or negotiable based on experience
Agency: Dept of Health
Application Period: 12/11/2013 - 12/18/2013

For more information and to apply visit https://applicanttracking.utah.gov/JobAnnouncement.jsp?rid=31740

Utah Memorial Service for Nelson Mandela

Celebrate the Life and Legacy of a great man
Sponsored by NAACP Salt Lake Branch

Sunday, December 15, 2013
3:00 p.m.
Salt Lake City Library Auditorium
210 East 400 South
Salt Lake City, UT 84111

Join Governor Gary Hebert, Mayor Ben McAdams and church and community leaders in paying tribute to an extraordinary global figure who personified the qualities of forgiveness and reconciliation. 

The Memorial Service is open to the Public  

Minority Health Organizations Remember Nelson Mandela

Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great.  You can be that great generation.”
-Nelson Mandela

We at the Office of Minority Health stand with the world in mourning the passing of Nelson Mandela, and honoring his truly transformative legacy.  Even though he now belongs to the ages, his fight for civil rights and social justice will continue to galvanize our movement for equity.  His ideals will endure; his words will live on.  And his example will continue to light our way. 

A prisoner who became a President, a freedom fighter who united a nation, a giant who led with courage and humility, President Mandela taught us that one voice can become an inflection point for sweeping change.  He showed us that a nation can come together to face its most painful truths, and overcome its deepest wounds.  He inspired us, in more ways than we can count, to believe that there are no limits to what we can do when we work together.

“To be free is not merely to cast off one's chains,” President Mandela once said, “but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others."  As he invoked our highest aspirations, he reminded us that we as a people cannot aspire to greatness without also fulfilling our obligations to one another.  From his vision we draw strength and hope as we move forward in our work to create a healthier more promising future for our most vulnerable and underserved communities.

Today, as we offer our condolences to the Mandela family, and to the people of South Africa, we also celebrate the life of a truly extraordinary man. We remember Nelson Mandela’s courage, his grace, and his unyielding belief that even in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, a brighter tomorrow is within our reach.  His dream of justice and equality for all is now ours to carry on, and bring to bear.  

J. Nadine Gracia, MD, MSCE
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health
Director, HHS Office of Minority Health

Today as I reflect on how I can best honor the legacy of Nelson Mandela, I realize that while we have been preparing for this day, with his passing comes a tremendous responsibility. A responsibility not just to act, but to act intentionally even when what we seek to achieve seems so far away.

I, and many of us at APIAHF, have spent most of our lives fighting for the voiceless and advocating for equality. I have been honored to do my work alongside you and many others who share a common vision of a more just world and civil society. In those times when I feel that I have not done enough, I remember the sage words of Mandela: "It always seems impossible until it's done."

Last year, I had the opportunity to travel to Capetown, as part of the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation. In bearing witness to the resilience, resistance and indomitable spirit of Nelson Mandela's 27 years at Robben Island, I felt the absolute truth of his words and I took inspiration in how his experience is part of our shared narrative in fostering a deeper understanding of racial reconciliation.

In the summer of 1990, I listened eagerly in Oakland as Mandela spoke of the struggles of his people, the adversity faced around the world and the need for all persons to come together and live in harmony. ''We are at a crucial historical juncture,'' Mandela said. ''We shall not turn back.''

Mandela's commitment to reconciliation and his deep understanding of how it is the cornerstone of equity and justice echoes our work.  At APIAHF, we dedicate ourselves to the struggles of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, as well as the broader community. We fight to stamp out health disparities. We fight for equality in health and equal opportunities for all.

Like Mandela's work, our work is opening doors for underserved communities. We are facing the challenges in health equity head on and tackling them step by step. Though our work is far from over, we are helping to bridge the gaps in health and health care.

Holding steadfast to our goal of equality is the best way we can honor Nelson Mandela. So let us take a moment to reflect on his unprecedented accomplishments, life and unbreakable spirit and continue the mission.

We shall not turn back.

Kathy Ko Chin
Asian and Pacific Islander American Health Forum

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Register now for UPHA's Annual Advocacy Summit

When: Thursday, January 16, 2014, 11:30-5:00 PM
Where: Utah State Office Building Auditorium
Utah State Capitol Complex
350 N. State Street
(North of the Capitol Building)
What!: Come network with legislators!
Learn about:
How a bill becomes law
Framing and communicating public health messages
Advocacy tips
Creating a policy agenda
Public health and the Affordable Care Act
$5.00 for students, $10.00 for professionals---lunch will be provided!
 Help spread the word!  
Forward this email to colleagues and friends!
Post a flyer in your work place or school! Download a flyer.

Monday, December 9, 2013

National Influenza Vaccination Week — December 8-14

December 8-14, is National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW). NIVW is a national health observance established to highlight the importance of continuing influenza vaccination. Historically, seasonal flu vaccination activity drops significantly at the end of November. While in "holiday mode", it is important to get vaccinated to protect yourself and your family against the flu. It’s not too late to vaccinate. 

Seasonal flu vaccination is also important for health care providers and their staff.

While some providers may offer flu vaccines, those that don’t can help their patients locate flu vaccines within their local community. TheHealthMap Vaccine Finder is a free, online service where users can search for locations offering flu and other adult vaccines.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Funding Opportunity: Utah Cancer Control Program Sub-Awards

Utah Cancer Control Program (UCCP) Sub-Award Opportunities
The UCCP is excited to release "Requests for Grant Applications" (RGA). Organizations may submit applications to receive a $15,000 to $20,000 for projects fitting the "Scope of Work" in the RGA. The UCCP anticipates funding three to six awards. Applications must be submitted by January 21, 2014.

The application packet is available online at http://cancerutah.org/fy15awards/.
Lynne Nilson, MPH, MCHES
Director, Utah Cancer Control Program

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

WORLD AIDS DAY Commemoration/Testing

The Salt Lake County Viridian Event Center
will display local panels from the
NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt,
courtesy of the
Utah AIDS Foundation and the Northern Utah AIDS Coalition

County library branches will feature World AIDS Day commemoration displays until Dec. 7.

The rate of HIV infection has been increasing nationally and in Utah. Nearly 2,000 Salt Lake County residents are living with HIV, according to a county statement. Find more informationabout HIV and AIDS in the U.S. here.

Walk-in HIV testing is available at these locations:
• Salt Lake County Health Department Clinic, 610 South 200 East, Salt Lake City, 385-468-4242Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., $25. Other STD testing is also available.
Utah AIDS Foundation, 1408 South 1100 East, 801-487-2323, Mondays and Thursdays, 5 p.m. to 7p.m., free. Other STD testing is also available.
• Utah Pride Center, 255 East 400 South, 801-539-8800, first and third Wednesdays of the month,
5 p.m. to 7 p.m., free.

New Emergency Preparedness Resources in Spanish and English


Moms, Children Benefit from WIC Improvements

(Salt Lake City, UT) – Each month, the Utah Department of Health’s (UDOH) Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition program serves an average of 66,000 clients, including moms, babies, and children up to age five. This month, the WIC program announced the results of a participant survey that shows 71% percent feel the services they receive are “excellent.” More than a quarter (27%) rated the services as “good.”

WIC launched in Utah in 1972 and focused primarily on providing supplemental, nutritious food.  Today, WIC does that through vouchers used at grocery stores. WIC staff also offer nutrition education and counseling to low-income families, referrals to health care and social services, breastfeeding classes and breast pumps for nursing moms, and information on the dangers of smoking. Staff at local WIC clinics across the state regularly educate clients about proper nutrition, and work to help them better understand how to use their food vouchers.

The survey found that 97.1% of participants were aware of the breastfeeding classes. As well, 91.5% understood that peer counselors were available through WIC to support breastfeeding moms. Peer counselors are breastfeeding mothers who were on WIC and were successful with breastfeeding, and who now share their expertise with other WIC moms. A separate, more recent report showed that 76% of mothers enrolled in WIC initiated breastfeeding statewide.

“Of course we’re thrilled with the survey results,” said WIC Manager Chris Furner, “but we’re most pleased with the fact that the program is helping to make those families’ lives better. The fact that overall satisfaction among WIC participants is as high as it is a testament to the great work that the 250 local WIC staff are doing across the state.”

The survey also asked clients what health changes their families have made since enrolling in the program. Seventy-one percent indicated eating more fruits and  vegetables. More than half (53%) reported eating more whole grain foods. Forty-one percent said they drink less soda and sugar-sweetened drinks, 30% said they are more physically active, and 31% say they now eat more low-fat food.

“Our WIC family members are leading healthy lives,” said Dr. Shaheen Hossain, lead author of the research report and Manager of the Data Resources Program. The survey results also show WIC participants are learning about nutrition and applying that information to make positive changes in their food choices as well as in their lifestyles.

“They are not only eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, they are also spending more time eating as a family,” Hossain added.  “Parents with healthy lifestyles tend to teach and support healthy habits in their children.”  The nutritional education component provided by WIC appears to play a prominent role in promoting more healthful food choices.

In an effort to save money and provide services to more families, Utah WIC staff lobbied the federal government in 2010 to allow clients to purchase store brand foods instead of pricier name brands. The change was made, and since then a vast majority (84%) of respondents have indicated their satisfaction with the store brands now available.

“When our clients are happy, we’re happy,” said Furner. “But we also know there is always room for improvement. For example, nearly one in four clients said they “sometimes” or “never” buy all of the foods available on their vouchers, which means families are missing out on important nutrients.”  Furner adds that WIC staff will contact enrollees to help them understand the benefits of the healthy food packages and teach them how to use WIC foods in their meal planning.

For more information on the WIC program visit www.health.utah.gov/wic/. The survey report can be found at http://www.health.utah.gov/mch/.

OHD Announces New Community Partner to Address Birth Outcomes Disparity

The Office of Health Disparities (OHD) is pleased to announce a new community partner to address low birth outcomes among U.S. born African Americans in Utah.  Please join us in welcoming Calvary Baptist Church as our newly funded partner.  Calvary Baptist has been awarded $9,000.00 to partner with OHD from February 2014 until August 2015.

We are excited about this new collaboration and look forward to addressing this disparity in our state.

For more information or questions, contact OHD at 801-273-4140 or email  disparities@utah.gov

Get Official Resources for the Health Insurance Marketplaces in Many Languages

The Health Insurance Marketplace has released official health insurance enrollment forms and other information in many languages.  Go to http://marketplace.cms.gov/getofficialresources/other-languages/other-languages-materials.html and find materials in:

  • Albanian
  • Amharic
  • Arabic
  • Bosnian
  • Burmese
  • Chin
  • Chinese
  • Creole
  • Farsi
  • French
  • German
  • Gujarati
  • Kayah
  • Kinyarwanda
  • Korean
  • Polish
  • Portuguese
  • Punjabi
  • Romanian
  • Russian
  • Somali
  • Swahili
  • Tagalog
  • Thai
  • Tibetan
  • Urdu
  • Vietnamese
* Consumer Application Tools for Families are pending translation and will soon be available in Bengali, Hindi, Khmer, Nepali, Sgaw Karen and Tigrinya.

Visit Marketplace.cms.gov for all official resources. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Menu Labeling Drives Customers to Healthier Restaurant Options

Customers who dined at restaurants with nutrition information printed on menus purchased items with fewer calories compared to customers who dined at unlabeled restaurants, according to a study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine. A research team led by the Drexel University School of Public Health found that customers who ate at restaurants that made nutrition information available purchased 155 fewer calories, 224 milligrams less sodium and 3.7 grams less saturated fat than customers at restaurants without labeling. 


Monday, December 2, 2013

Update: Improvements to HealthCare.gov

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has been working to fix the technical problems that users have encountered on HealthCare.gov. They now report that 90 percent of users are now able to create accounts.
If you’re looking for other ways to apply, here are three other options:
- Call our Marketplace Call Center at 1-800-318-2596 and begin your application over the phone with one of our trained Call Center representatives, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. TTY users should dial 1-855-889-4325.
- Visit a trained counselor to apply in person. Find one in your area here.
- Download a paper application form and mail it in.
If you want coverage that will start as early as January 1, 2014, the application deadline was recently extended to December 23, 2013.
Don’t miss your opportunity to get the quality, affordable coverage you need. Use one of the methods above to apply today.