PHI in the News
Advisory Panel Recommends Reducing Blood Alcohol Concentration Limit To Prevent Traffic-Related Deaths
January 17, 2018 | Charmagne Nojas
Alcohol-impaired driving is a persistent problem in the United States, causing more than 10,000 fatalities each year despite intensified efforts. Since the 1980s, drunk driving has accounted for one-third of all traffic-related deaths and almost 40 percent of these fatalities are victims other than the intoxicated driver.
"The plateauing fatality rates indicate that what has been done to decrease deaths from alcohol-impaired driving has been working but is no longer sufficient to reverse this growing public health system," explains Steven Teutsch, senior fellow at the Public Health Institute. more
January 11, 2018 | Lela Nargi | Civil Eats
In response to the diabetes and obesity epidemics public health advocates and policymakers have proposed numerous strategies, including education programs, encouraging more physical activity, and developing holistic hospital and community interventions. None of these interventions has generated the same level of response or opposition as soda taxes, says the author of this Civil Eats article. A new study out from New York University and Tufts reports that these taxes work, and are legally and administratively viable—corroborating a PHI study last year showing a 9.6 percent drop in sugary drink sales one year after the sugar-sweetened beverage tax was enacted in Berkeley, CA, in March 2015. more
January 09, 2018 | Jim Galloway | Politically Georgia
Within the space of 24 hours last month, a House Republican task force at the Georgia state capitol released its blueprint to extend broadband internet access in rural areas, allowing doctors to treat patients remotely, give students in poor school systems access to advanced courses, and provide employers with a firm and speedy connection to the rest of the world. But one day earlier, the Federal Communications Commission, pushed by its chairman, Ajit Pai, had declared an end to net neutrality.
“It’s great that Georgia is thinking of extending broadband connectivity to these rural areas. They desperately need it,” Mei Kwong, executive director of PHI's Center for Connected Health Policy, says in this article from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Politically Georgia. Kwong says the end of net neutrality, however, means rural communities could be vulnerable to the “pay prioritization” governing a cash-driven internet. more
January 08, 2018 | Dusty Nix | Columbus Ledger-Enquirer
Accessing health care in rural areas is a serious, growing challenge in the state of Georgia—a crisis that may now worsen with the FCC's recent vote to end net neutrality rules, saying Columbus Ledger-Enquirer opinion writer Dusty Nix. The lack of high speed connection for telemedicine services that could result are worrying some, including Mei Kwong, interim director of PHI's Center for Connected Health Policy: “Without that connectivity, telemedicine doesn’t work ... You need it on the patient end and the provider end,” said Kwong. more
January 03, 2018 | Laura Kane | Toronto Star
After a study on alcohol warning labels in Canada's Yukon territory was halted due to pushback from the liquor industry, Thomas Greenfield, PhD, scientific director of PHI's Alcohol Research Group, responded that similar labels related to drunk driving and drinking during pregnancy have proven effective in the U.S.
In the U.S., “the industry essentially ended up taking up the position they wouldn’t fight it... So it’s interesting that in other parts of the world as close as Canada, the industry is going back to its former position of fighting everything such as this,” said Greenfield, who was a consultant on the Yukon study. more
December 27, 2017 | Erin Dietsche | MedCity News
PHI's Center for Connected Health Policy has unveiled a list of telehealth legislation approved in 2017. Here are the 11 pieces of legislation in nine states that will officially take effect in 2018. more
December 21, 2017 | Eric Wicklund | mHealthIntelligence
Some 63 pieces of legislation focusing on telehealth or telemedicine were approved by 34 state Legislatures this year, according to PHI's Center for Connected Health Policy. The various bills cover a wide variety of digital health issues, from defining terms like telemedicine, telehealth, store-and-forward technology and virtual visits to establishing care standards before a doctor can use telehealth to serve new patients. This article provides a look at some of the more interesting bills. more
December 14, 2017 | Rachel Arndt | Modern Healthcare
The Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal net neutrality rules established under Presendent Obama prohibiting internet providers from slowing or blocking internet content. This opens up the possibility that internet users could encounter differing connection speeds—something that could hurt telemedicine, says Mei Kwong, interim executive director and policy adviser for PHI's Center for Connected Health Policy. more
December 07, 2017 | Lynn Silver | The Sacramento Bee
The state of California recently proposed emergency rules to regulate marijuana when recreational use becomes legal in January. PHI's Lynn Silver cautions against allowing unfettered commercialization and predatory marketing to vulnerable groups in this op-ed in The Sacramento Bee, saying the health and well-being of our communities must be put first. more
Meet the intrepid doctors and scientists who are viewed as the ‘Zena warrior princesses of women’s health’
November 30, 2017 | Pamela M. Norick | The New York Times
Bethany Young Holt, head of PHI's CAMI Health, is profiled in this New York Times article highlighting the network of women scientists, experts, health advocates, and innovators leading the reproductive health field to develop multipurpose prevention technologies (MPTs) — new technologies that would simultaneously prevent two leading causes of death for women: sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, and unintended pregnancies.
“The science is there to prevent unintended pregnancies and many sexually transmitted infections, but the art of combining them into one product that women will want to use hasn’t yet been realized,” says Young Holt. more
November 07, 2017 | Eric Wicklund | mHealthIntelligence
Nearly every state provides Medicaid reimbursement for video-based telehealth, according to the latest report from PHI's Center for Connected Health Policy. In addition, 15 states cover store-and-forward or asynchronous services, and 21 states cover remote patient monitoring – while only nine states reimburse for all three platforms.
But the rules and regulations covering telehealth and telemedicine are as confusing as ever, says the author of this mHealthIntelligence article on the Center for Connected Health Policy's fifth annual report. more
November 01, 2017 | Michael O. Schroeder | U.S. News & World Report
Poverty and discrimination are powerful social determinants of health. They make it more difficult to buy healthy foods, find leisure time for exercise, live in clean, affordable housing and obtain preventive care. They also ratchet up stress to sometimes unbearable levels, says PHI senior investigator Kevin Barnett in this U.S. News & World Report article. "We call it toxic stress,” he says, “this day-to-day almost life-and-death kind of stress has a corrosive impact upon our direct cardiovascular function [and] upon glucose tolerance,” which can raise diabetes risk. more
October 24, 2017 | Jenny Staletovich | The Miami Herald
“Extreme heat events already cause more deaths in a typical year than any other weather event, and climate change is causing more extreme heat days. So it’s important to understand we can reduce heat deaths and heat illness by taking common sense steps,” said Linda Rudolph, director of PHI's Center for Climate Change and Health, in response to a new report from the Natural Resources Defence Council on extreme heat days.
Rudolph participated in a press call for the report's release, saying public health infrastructure needs to be strengthened to prepare for more dangerous hot days. more
October 20, 2017 | Chris Roberts | Curbed San Francisco
Climate change played a role in the deadliest, most costly wildfire in California history this month, which killed at least 42 people and destroyed nearly 8,500 structures. PHI's Linda Rudolph, director of our Center for Climate Change and Health, addresses the additional health impacts of exposure to wildfire smoke in this Curbed San Francisco article. more
October 20, 2017 | Leslie Tillotson | KUTV
This week is Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, and Salt Lake City's KUTV produced this report citing research from PHI's California Environmental Health Tracking Program showing that children across the country are under tested for lead poisoning, particularly in western states. more
October 15, 2017 | Anna Lappé and Christina Bronsing-Lazalde | The New York Times
A recent PHI study is highlighted in this New York Times op-ed arguing that efforts to pass sugary-drinks taxes are better able to withstand attacks from the soda industry when they're driven and supported by community coalitions that build public awareness early on, as was the case in Berkeley, CA. PHI's study found that the volume of sugar sweetened beverages sold in Berkeley declined by 9.6% in the year after implementation of its sugary-drink tax. The study also found no negative impact on overall beverage sales at studied local businesses, and that overall grocery bills did not go up. more
October 04, 2017 | Claudia Romeu, Rise Up | Ms. Magazine
Guatemala has taken a huge step forward for girls, officially outlawing child marriage following years of advocacy by activists and girl leaders. New legislation closes a major loophole in the law, a major victory for girls in a country that has one of the highest rates of child marriage in Latin America.
Starting in 2013, PHI's Rise Up began investing in girl-led advocacy to pressure Guatemalan law makers to increase the minimum age of marriage to 18 years. This campaign led to the first big step towards banning child marriage in Guatemala, a law that increased the legal age of marriage to 18 in November 2015. However, a major loophole in the law allowed for girls and boys 16 to 18 years old to be legally married with the consent of a family judge. But girl leaders and civil society activists refused to give up, continuing in their fight to end child marriage. more
September 20, 2017 | Ian James | The Desert Sun
Efforts by community members and PHI's California Environmental Health Tracking Program to monitor air quality in California's Imperial County are getting a boost from the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, which is providing a $100,000 grant to support an expanding network of air pollution monitors there. The new funding will help keep the network operating and will pay for 20 more monitors, which provide air quality information to the public at a time when the nearby Salton Sea is shrinking—producing large amounts of dust and intensifying a public health crisis in the area.
Learn more in this article and accompanying video by The Desert Sun. more
September 14, 2017 | Tom Angell | Forbes
Marijuana use has risen sharply among adults in the U.S., but instead of being caused by laws legalizing the use of medical or recreational marijuana, the trend is primarily explained by decreasing disapproval of marijuana use. That's the main finding of a study by PHI's Alcohol Research Group published this week in the journal Addiction. Read more in this Forbes article. more
September 12, 2017 | Robert Valencia | Newsweek
American adults are smoking more pot, but increased cannabis use does not appear to be due to wider availability of legal marijuana, a new study from PHI's Alcohol Research Group shows.
"Results ...did not show significant increases in use related to medicinal marijuana legislation,” lead investigator William Kerr said in a statement. “It appears that the passage of these policies reflects changing attitudes toward marijuana use, rather than the other way around.” more