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December 2016
For many young children, the winter holiday season is often about, well, toys. But for health-conscious parents, it's also about toy  safety . As a result of increased consumer advocacy and more stringent policies put forth by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the nation's recall of unsafe toys has declined from 172 products in 2008 to 25 products in 2015. Over the years, the CPSC has strengthened the nation's toy safety system by requiring stricter testing guidelines; setting tougher standards for lead and phthalate limits; and curbing hazardous toys at the port and the marketplace before unsafe toys reach the cash register. The federal toy safety standard - formally known as ASTM F963 - lays out comprehensive policies that address key safety concerns, including flammability, chemical content, and product labeling and marking.

In addition to these important policy protections, the Consumer Product Safety Commission also provides an online warehouse of practical tips and resources that parents can use. Below are just a few: 
  • Balloons can suffocate small children. Learn more.
  • Take the button battery safety quiz. Click here.
  • Plastic film on toys can pose a choking hazard for small children. Know the risks.
  • Be selective when buying electric toys. Here's how
  • Swallowing magnets can cause serious intestinal injury. Prevention tips.
HPRC Supports IHA Effort to Enhance the Health Literacy Profession

From insurance enrollment forms to the doctor's orders, the health care system is filled with strange acronyms, odd abbreviations, bizarre medical terminology, and obsure health policy language. In today's ever-evolving health care system, Health Literacy Educators play an increasingly important role in equiping consumers, patient advocates, policymakers, and other stakeholders with the basic knowledge needed to navigate the language of health. Recently, HPRC began supporting the efforts of the Institute for Healthcare Advancement (IHA) to strengthen the certification system for our nation's health literacy professionals.

The IHA is conducting a needs assessment survey that will be used to guide the professional development of health literacy workers. According to Michael Villaire, President and CEO of IHA, the survey is "an important step in the process of creating  a health literacy certification exam for professionals specializing in this field."  

IHA is sur veying a national pool of health literacy professionals. The survey measures resp onses across key he alth literacy domain s, including communication, e ducation, systems, policies, ethics, and culture/language. John Sankofa, HPRC's Senior Health Writer, who conceptualized HPRC's Health Policy Literacy Study (HPLS) and who is an alternate member of IHA's Health Literacy Job Analysis Task Force, has been selected by IHA to participate in the survey. John is providing the IHA, a California-based not-for-profit organization, with comprehensive feedback on how to incorporate health disparity populations into the certification training process. Many groups, including Blacks, Hispanics, American Indians/Alaska Natives, Asian Americans, and LGBT communities, will benefit from a health literacy certification system that addresses key health disparity issues, including trust, cultural norms, and health inequities. Learn more here about IHA's important work in health literacy. 

Health Insurance Literacy and Post-Election Health Care Reform

As the incoming White House administration prepares to advance President-elect Donald Trump's commitment to repeal or modify the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as a top priority, health literacy advocates are underscoring the importance of the public's understanding of the policy language of reform, which, according to health reform watchers, can be highly technical and even obfuscating. Policy language, such as "preexisting conditions," "underwriting," "block grants," and "vouchers" can have ambiguous or multiple meanings depending on context and stipulations. With today's uncertainties about what may happen to the ACA, which has provided health care coverage for approximately 20 million previously uninsured Americans, health literacy is a vital component of our nation's post-election health care reform efforts.
Recently, the Health Insurance Literacy Survey revealed that Americans indeed face very basic health literacy challenges. For example:
  • Less than half of Americans understand how their health plan works.
  • There's a 25% gap between perceived and actual knowledge of very basic health policy terms, such as: "deductible," "co-pay," and "out-of-pocket maximum."
  • The least understood policy jargon was the term "coinsurance."
Learn more here about the Health Insurance Literacy Survey.
New AMA Policies on LGBT Care 

Supporting non-discrimin atory car e for the nation's
LGBT communities, including  the approximately 700,000 transgend er people in the U.S., the American Medical Association (AMA) recently announced the adoption of new LGBT policie s designed to improve access and care.

Adopted at the AMA's Interim Meeting in Orlando, the new LGBT policies include:
  1. Support the "voluntary inclusion of a patient's biological sex, current gender identity, sexual orientation and preferred gender pronoun" in clinical records, including Electronic Health Records (EHRs).
  2. Support health insurance coverage of fertility treatments regardless of marital status or sexual orientation.
  3. Promote AMA collaboration with state medical societies and state regulators to promote health carrier non-discrimination clauses, including protection of gender identity and sexual orientation.
  • Learn more here about the AMA's new LGBT policies.
  • Learn more here about the work of the AMA Advisory Committee on LGBTQ Issues
  • Learn more here about LGBT disparities in health care. 
Baltimore City Fire Department and Holiday Safety
Rain, sleet, or blizzard, the firefighters in Baltimore City work around the clock - including Christmas Eve and New Y ear's Eve -  to protect the city's 622,000 residents.

During this holiday season, HPRC salutes the men and women of the Baltimore City Fire Department (BCFD) - and firefighters throughout the mid-Atlantic region - who dedicate their lives to protecting ours.

We also applaud the BCFD for its efforts to communicate the importance of holiday safety throughout the city.
According to the BCFD's Holiday Safety webpage , each year fires occur during the holiday season injuring 2,600 individuals and causing over $930 million in damage. According to the U.S. Fire Administration , 1 in 31 reported home Christmas tree fires result in a deat h. 
To protect citizens during this festive family season, the BCFD offers important tips for preventing holiday tree fires, averting overloaded electrical outlets, using non-flammable or flame retardant decorations, and avoiding or safely managing the use of lit candles.
Click  here to learn more about holiday safety...from the caring men and women of the BCFD.
The HPRC Staff Wishes You & Yours a Safe and Healthy Holiday Season!
Events Calendar

WHEN December 13, 2016, 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
WHERE: Martin's West, 6817 Dogwood Road, Baltimore, Maryland 21244
Click  here for additional information. 
WHEN  January 20, 2017, 9:00 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
WHERE:  Nemours Children's Hospital Orlando, 13535 Nemours Parkway,Orlando, Florida 32827
Click  here for additional information. 
WHEN  January 24, 2017, 9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.
WHERE: Morehouse School of Medicine, 720 Westview Drive SW, Atlanta, Georgia 30301
Click  here for additional information. 
WHEN May 3-6, 2017
WHERE:  J W Marriot,  614 Canal Street,  New Orleans, Louisiana 70130
Click  here for additional information.  

Please feel free to contact the HPRC Team at 301.375.2021 with any questions.

Thank you,

The Health Policy Research Consortium

HPRC, a CTIS Inc. division, is supported by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) of the National Institutes of Health under award number #1U54MD008608-01. This content does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Health Policy Research Consortium
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Phone: (301) 375-2021