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PHI in the News

In Response: Watered down facts on soda tax

July 14, 2017 | Lynn Silver | The San Diego Union-Tribune

PHI's Lynn Silver, MD, MPH, writes in a letter to the editor that a recent op-ed by a vice president of the American Beverage Association misrepresented the findings of a study she authored on the soda tax in Berkeley. The ABA "understands marketing better than science," she says, noting that the analyses showed declines in sugary drink purchases while the city's food sector revenue grew.  more

Artwork by Diana Ofosu

The hidden toxic threat in America’s backyards

July 12, 2017 | Yvette Cabrera | ThinkProgress

Childhood lead poisoning dramatically decreased across America as the federal government began phasing out leaded gasoline in the 1970s. But many children are still being exposed today because of lead’s legacy: polluted environments, particularly in urban areas. As the issue recedes from public consciousness, lead exposure is still harming children in complex ways. ThinkProgress takes an in depth look at the toll on one community, and explores research from PHI's California Environmental Health Tracking Program, which found that states across the country are severely undercounting and underreporting the number of lead-burdened children. 


Telemedicine Is Wide-Reaching But Doesn’t Always Replace Doctor’s Touch

July 07, 2017 | Elaine Korry | California Healthline

Regulators have been limiting insurance plans from being able to utilize telehealth to its fullest, even though California passed legislation in 2011 recognizing telehealth as appropriate care, said Mario Gutierrez, executive director of PHI's Center for Connected Health Policy in this California Healthline article.  more

Photo: Kellen Browning/California Healthline

Why Teens Are Smoking Less, In Their Own Words

July 05, 2017 | Kellen Browning | KQED

Despite declining teen smoking rates, anti-smoking advocates need to remain vigilant to counteract tobacco companies’ advertising, says Alison Chopel, director of PHI's California Adolescent Health Collaborative, in this KQED article. CAHC's research has found that flavors of e-cigarettes such as “Mango Tango” and “Watermelon Wave” entice teens.  more

Eric Paul Zamora / The Fresno Bee

Fresno’s city parks need a champion

June 25, 2017 | Genoveva Islas | The Fresno Bee

"The benefits of parks are numerous, yet parks are non-existent in some portions of Fresno, depriving these neighborhoods of assets to health promotion, mental wellness, centers for celebration, and property values, among other value-adds," says Genoveva Islas, director of PHI's Cultiva La Salud, in this op-ed in The Fresno Bee. Islas calls for a better parks system in the city—one that is equitable for all neighborhoods.  more

The Paradox of the Sugar Tax: How Buying a Soda Benefits Services for the Poor

June 19, 2017 | Martha C. White | NBC News

A recent study by PHI and the University of North Carolina showing that the sugar-sweetened beverage tax in Berkeley has been successful in curbing consumption of sugary drinks is included in this NBC News article on soda taxes around the country, which also highlights an additional analysis by PHI's Lynn Silver finding that employment in the food industry in Berkeley also rose following implementation of the tax.  more

Image: AHA News

Sugary Drink Taxes Across The Country Are Planting Seeds For A Healthier Generation

June 13, 2017 | Nancy Brown | The Huffington Post

In 2014 Berkeley, California, became the first U.S. city to adopt a sugary drink tax. "Recent as that is, it’s long enough for some quality analysis. The short answer: It’s worked great," says Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association, in this Huffington Post article. Brown cites PHI's recent analysis of Berkeley's soda tax and refers to PHI's Lynn Silver's recent op-ed stating that sugary drink taxes make health and economic sense.  more

Toxic dust and asthma plague Salton Sea communities

June 10, 2017 | Ian James | The Desert Sun

California's Imperial County already has the highest rate of asthma-related emergency room visits for children in the state. PHI's California Environmental Health Tracking Program has partnered with community members and research partners to install 40 air pollution monitors throughout the county in an effort to identify hazardous pollution “hot spots” so families can take action to keep their kids safe. This Desert Sun article takes a deep dive into the serious asthma crisis afflicting the community and efforts like the air monitor network to protect residents from air pollution.  more

Soda taxes are a sweetener for public health efforts

June 04, 2017 | Lynn Silver | The Hill

The soda tax in Berkeley is a home run, says PHI's Lynn Silver in this op-ed in The Hill. She lays out her recently published study findings on the impacts of the tax: people swapped unhealthy beverages for healthier ones, revenue and jobs in the city's food sector revenue continued to increase, and it raised money for local communities.  more

Photo: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times

Public Health Leaders Say U.S. Withdrawal from Paris Accord Bad for Health

June 02, 2017 | Karen Kaplan | Los Angeles Times

PHI President and CEO Mary Pittman's statement on President Trump's decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord is quoted in this LA Times article highlighting the opposition of public health groups to the decision.  more

Photo: Reuters / Danny Moloshok

L.A. health officials misstated some cases of childhood lead exposure

June 01, 2017 | Joshua Schneyer and M.B. Pell | Reuters

This Reuters article on lead poisoning data errors in the Los Angeles area references a recent study by PHI's California Environmental Health Tracking Program, showing that for every California child found with a high lead level, approximately two are never diagnosed. Despite the data errors, “Under-testing appears to be a huge problem,” according to PHI's Eric Roberts, MD, PhD, lead author of the study and co-principal investigator of CEHTP.  more

1.2 million children in the US have lead poisoning. We’re only treating half of them.

April 27, 2017 | Sarah Frostenson | Vox

As concerns about lead exposure peak across the U.S., a new study by PHI's California Environmental Health Tracking Program published in Pediatrics indicates that lead reporting may be capturing just 2 out of every 3 children poisoned by lead. Our researchers found some states where more than 80% of lead-poisoned children remain unidentified—and they expect that testing rates have only declined in the years following the study period.

An overview of the study's findings and the country's lead problem is provided in this Vox article.  more

Image: Thinkstock

Examining the State of Medicaid Telehealth Reimbursement

April 25, 2017 | Thomas Beaton | mHealthIntelligence

The newly updated 2017 edition of “State Telehealth Laws and Reimbursement Policies” from PHI's Center for Connected Health Policy (CCHP) offers policymakers, health advocates, and other interested health care professionals the most current summary guide of telehealth-related policies, laws, and regulations for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. It found that live video Medicaid reimbursement continues to far exceed reimbursement for store-and-forward and remote patient monitoring, and highlights other notable trends, including the elimination of restrictions around the need for a patient to be located in a rural area to receive services.

Read more about these new findings in this mHealthIntelligence article and other related media coverage.  more

Berkeley soda tax takes a big gulp out of sugary-drink sales

April 19, 2017 | Ronnie Cohen | Reuters

A new study published in PLOS Medicine by the Public Health Institute and the University of North Carolina showed that Berkeley’s sugar sweetened beverage tax is working as intended. Sales of sugar-sweetened beverages dropped nearly 10 percent during the first year of the tax, purchaces of healthier beverages rose, and $1.4 million was raised in the first year for child nutrition and community health programs. Read an overview of the new findings in this Reuters article.  more

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

A Focus on Health to Resolve Urban Ills

April 19, 2017 | Amy Maxmen | The New York Times

Although evidence for connections between social factors and physical health has mounted for decades, interventions haven't always been easy to come by. This New York Times opinion piece lays out the ways that a “Health in All Policies” (HiAP) approach has been developed as part of a broader movement to confront problems before they manifest in illness and casualties. 

The article links to a guide developed by PHI's HiAP team, which has been a global leader in the implementation of a Health in All Policies approach, providing technical support for initiatives in local governments and municipalities, at the state level, and in countries outside the U.S.   more

Santa Cruz County’s use of controversial pesticide: small but significant, says activists

April 03, 2017 | Kara Guzman | Santa Cruz Sentinel

Chlorpyrifos, the pesticide linked to neurological damage in children that made national news last month when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency refused to ban it, is still used in Santa Cruz County, though is restricted, declining and small compared to other counties. For comparison, Santa Cruz County's use of chlorpyrifos is somewhere in the bottom 50th percentile among other California counties—nowhere close to the amounts used in sections of the Salinas Valley and the Central Valley, which are among the top users in the state, according to a pesticide mapping tool from PHI's California Environmental Health Tracking Program.


Yolo County rates high in state in terms of health

March 29, 2017 | Jim Smith | Daily Democrat

When it come to the healthiest county in California, San Mateo is tops, but Yolo isn’t far behind. That was the conclusion of the eighth annual County Health Rankings, released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.

“By surfacing issues like drug overdoses, lack of education and job opportunities for youth, and the need for integrated care, the County Health Rankings help us understand where we should be making strategic investments in health,” said Mary A. Pittman, DrPH, president and CEO of the Public Health Institute, based in Oakland. “The 2017 Rankings point to an urgent need to make sure that clinical providers and public health practitioners are working closely together to make sure everyone can access care-and that we are working to prevent people from getting sick in the first place.”  more

Medical Community Gathers Steam to Tackle Climate’s Health Effects

March 22, 2017 | M.J. Friedrich | Journal of the American Medical Association: Medical News & Perspectives

The 2015 Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change recommended that health professionals use similar strategies to combat climate-related health dangers as they did in tackling tobacco use, HIV infection, and polio. “A public health perspective has the potential to unite all actors behind a common cause—the health and wellbeing of our families, communities, and countries,” Commission members wrote.

This JAMA article highlights how leaders in the medical community are working to address the impacts of climate change and health through changing medical school curriculum, training practitioners to understand the health linkages and implications, and greening the health care sector. It features Linda Rudolph, MD, MPH, director of PHI's Center for Climate Change and Health, and the Center's work to train and identify medical practitioners to become champions on climate and health.   more

Executive Director of the Center for Connected Health Policy: "It's about a culture change"

March 20, 2017 | Ryan Black | Healthcare Analytics News

As the landscape of health continues to evolve, with massive advances at the technological level but widespread uncertainty in health policy, it’s difficult to determine the role that new technologies can play, or will be allowed to play, down the road.

PHI's Center for Connected Care Health Policy, or CCHP, has worked for nearly a decade now to advocate for the use of telehealth as a means to streamline care, lower costs, and put patients at the center of the healthcare system. Initially begun to advocate for legal telehealth reform in the state of California, the CCHP has since become the leading, federally-designated national body for the movement.

Read the Healthcare Analytics News interview with CCHP Executive Director Mario Gutierrez.  more

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Telemedicine Could Be Great, if People Stopped Using It Like Uber

March 06, 2017 | Megan Molteni | Wired

Dialing a doctor has never been easier, but that doesn't mean telemedicine is working out the way policymakers hoped. “Telehealth has to be integrated fully into a total care system,” says Mario Gutierrez, executive director of the Center for Connected Health Policy at the Public Health Institute. “It can’t just be a one-off. That’s not health care.”  more

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