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January 2016 
Happy New Year, from HPRC!

Happy and Healthy New Year from HPRC! Now that 2016 is here,  let's not forget about those New Year's resolutions that come along with it . As you may already know, maintaining a healthy weight and eating the right foods are key to health and wellness. With the 2015  holiday season behind us,  many are rebounding from indulging in their favorite   delights. Will you commit to making healthier lifestyle choices in 2016?  Useful tips for eating healthy and maintaining wellness during the New Year, from the  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , the American Heart Association, and MedlinePlus are summarized below: 
  • Set achievable goals for diet, exercise and other aspects of health that fit your lifestyle
  • Get moving, try to incorporate movement into your daily routines
  • Stay hydrated by drinking water and eating the right types of foods
  • Get plenty of sleep, so your body can refresh
Apply these simple tips to stay healthy in 2016 and beyond! 
Top 5 Health Policy Issues of 2015

The year 2015 was an exciting one for the health policy world with many developments surrounding the Affordable Care Act (ACA), several major legislative anniversaries and high-profile Supreme Court cases. HPRC has recapped some notable health system-shaping policy events that took place in 2015.
  1. The Affordable Care Act was a frequently discussed health policy topic in 2015 with the Supreme Court case challenging the federal tax-credits subsidies in the King vs. Burwell. New findings about alternative payment models that counter the traditional fee-for-service approach was another noteworthy ACA-related topic in 2015. 
  2. The 30th Anniversary of the Secretary's Task Force Report on Black and Minority Health (Heckler Report) received much attention this past year. The Heckler Report is often touted as a critical moment in the health equity movement, sparking health disparities policies, strategic plans and national coalitions committed to eliminating health disparities. 
  3. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid  celebrated the 50th anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid in 2015. Since the Medicare and Medicaid programs were first signed into law in 1965, they have provided a tantamount of health and social supports for the nation's most vulnerable populations. The programs have had many milestones along the way, improving the U.S. health care system with each advancement.
  4. Education policy took big strides, as 2015 marked the 50th anniversary of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. The passage of the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 (ECAA) marks the end of the controversial No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation. ECAA is intended to "to ensure that all children have a fair, equitable, and significant opportunity to receive a high-quality education... and to close educational achievement gaps.'' As education is highly correlated with health and wellness, education policy is key to achieving health equity.
  5. Climate change was a huge issue in 2015, as one of the warmest years on record for cities across the globe. Pope Francis, in his 192 page encyclical on climate change, called for new approaches to global warming that utilized wisdom from science and organized religion. Moreover, the United Nations hosted its Climate Change Conference, Conference of Parties (COP) 21, to discuss innovative approaches to environmentally sustainable solutions with leaders from 190 countries. 
What will 2016 bring in the realm of health policy? Keep your eye on the Policy Pulse to stay updated with all the latest health policy news! 
Regional Spotlight: Mid-Shore Health Improvement Coalition
Progressive health coalitions have formed across the state of Maryland as a result of the Local Health Improvement Coalition (LHIC) program, under the State Health Improvement Process (SHIP). Mid-Shore Health is the LHIC for 5 counties ( Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne's and Talbot) on Maryland's eastern shore. Stakeholders  associated with Mid-Shore Health are dedicated to "optimal health" for residents in these five counties. Currently, the coalition has three priority areas (1) adolescent obesity, (2) diabetes-related emergency room visits and (3) adolescent tobacco use. Mid-Shore provides health programs to meet these goals, including the Living WELL with Chronic Conditions/Diabetes Workshops and the National Diabetes Prevention Program (NDPP).

Living WELL is a free 6-week educational program that teaches participants chronic disease self-management tips. Trained facilitators lead the sessions which cover a broad range of topics from challenges associated with a particular chronic condition to healthy nutrition. All five counties on Maryland's eastern shore currently offer the Living WELL programs. Click here to learn more. 

NDPP is a year-long program that entails regular group meetings with a trained life coach. Groups meet a total of 22 times, including 16 core session and 6 follow up sessions. Participation in the program has been proven to reduce type 2 diabetes risk by more than 50% and help participants maintain a healthy weight. More information about NDPP is available here.

The coalition also notes 20% of African American teens ages 12-19 are obese compared to 11% of White teens. Since Mid-Shore's inception in 2012, the obesity rate among adolescents has dropped from 14% in 2008 to 13.3% in 2013. However, there is still much to be done to address racial obesity disparities.  V isit Mid-Shore Health's website or read their Action Plan to learn more about their work. 
Town and County Highlight: Ocean City, Maryland (Worcester County)

Ocean City, MD, is an Atlantic  resort town located in Worcester County on  Maryland's eastern shore. Ocean City is well-known in the Mid-Atlantic division of the United States as a popular destination for vacationers and tourists in the region. According to the U.S. Census, in the year 2010, the population was 7,102, however as summer weekends approach, the city serves as a vacation spot for over 300,000 people. Roughly, 8 million visitors  roam the Ocean City beaches year round. During the summer, Ocean City becomes the second most populated town in Maryland. Though Ocean City is a scenic beach community, it is not without its health challenges. 
In a 2014 Community Needs Assessment, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, respiratory illnesses and obesity were found to be key public health issues among Worcester County residents. 
Ocean City and Worcester County may find it challenging to balance serving accommodations tourist and molding an quintessential health environment. For example,  Ocean City adopted a new smoking restriction mandate  which began in May of 2015. This mandate, however, took smoking patterns of tourist into consideration with officials stating that "roughly 700,000 out of Ocean City's 8 million annual visitors are smokers". This aside, a myriad of health and social services are provided by the County through its  comprehensive prevention program. Furthermore, Worcester County is a member of the  State Health Improvement Process (SHIP) initiative designed to leverage existing state and county resources to improve health. Click here to learn more about Ocean City and here to learn more about Worcester County's health services.  
In the News:
New Trend in National Asthma Rates: Asthma rates have stalemated among some U.S.children, however this trend was not noticed among low-income children. Is this good news? Considering that asthma rates have perennially increased from 2001-2013, the data seem to represent a move in the right direction. This information signifies the need for more targeted asthma treatment and diagnoses efforts for at-risk populations. Time will tell if this is a permanent change in childhood asthma prevalence. 

Update on the Ebola Outbreak: Guinea was recently declared Ebola free by the World Health Organization (WHO). As an Ebola "hot zone" and the location of patient zero, Guinea experienced over 2,500 Ebola-related deaths. This announcement from WHO marks a critical milestone in the Ebola epidemic. In total, the diseases claimed over 11,000 lives and infected thousands more. Though the country may be Ebola free, Guinea experienced  economic and societal turmoil as a result of the disease. As the healing begins, it is important to consider how to build stronger global public health infrastructures to swiftly address future outbreaks.

Gun Violence in the U.S. : New data shows that gun fatalities are just as common as  automobile fatalities, according to findings from the CDC. Deaths from firearms, however, exceed car deaths in over 20 states. This trend is partly due to the improvements in motor vehicle safety including airbags, anti-lock brakes, and other technological advances. How can policies be used to address gun violence in the U.S.? Can policies minimize gun fatalities? Visit us on Twitter and Facebook to share your thoughts. 
Community Voices: Kimberly Carter, Health Ministry Chair with Crossover Church
Kimberly Carter is the Chair of the Health Ministry at Crossover Church in Hyattsville, MD where Timothy L. Seay is the Pastor. Kim coordinates health and wellness activities for the congregation and the local community. She has been a devoted member of Crossover Church for nearly 20 years and enjoys volunteering her time to help her fellow congregants achieve health and wellness. Her leadership has led to Crossover Church being one of the first faith-based organizations to register for HPRC's Healthy Church Initiative. Outside of the church, Kim is a valued employee of the Montgomery County Health Department where she helps residents navigate the healthcare system, including registering for the Healthcare Market Place. We salute Kim for her devotion to the health of her community and her church congregation!

In a recent interview, Dr. Latha Palaniappan discussed how the vast diversity among Asian Americans warrants further stratification when assessing disease  susceptibility . Dr. Palaniappan stated that the six largest Asian American groups ( Indians, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese have "a wide range of disease risks, immigration histories, and socioeconomic status." The aptly titled "CAUSES" study aims to determine what social factors influence morbidity and mortality outcomes among different Asian groups. Initial findings reveal that "Asian Indians and Filipinos proportionally die more due to heart disease than any other Asian subgroup." These findings suggest the need for researchers to explore the heterogeneity of populations that are often viewed of  homogeneous . Click here to learn more about the CAUSES study and read the full interview. Dr. Palaniappan is a  clinical professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine in Palo Alto, CA.
Upcoming Events


WHEN:  Tuesday, January 26, 2016 1:00 p.m., EST
DESCRIPTION: Join SOPHE to learn about  common online behaviors of users with limited literacy skills, i dentify user-centered design research methods and d escribe strategies for involving low-literacy populations in the user-centered design research. Click here to register.

WHO:  America Walks   and  AARP
WHEN:  Thursday, January 14, 2016, 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m., EST
DESCRIPTION:   America Walks and AARP are committed to creating great places for people of all ages to live. AARP has developed several resources that should be in the toolbox of any walking advocate. During this webinar participants will learn about AARP's Livability Index and the Livable Economy: People, Places and Prosperity Report. An example of how one local organization is using these tools in their efforts to make walkable communities a reality for people of all ages.

Other Events

WHEN:  January 8, 2016; 2:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m.
WHERE:  Natcher Conference Center, Building 45, Balcony C, NIH Campus, Bethesda, MD
DESCRIPTION:  Cultural neuroscience examines the cultural, environmental and genetic factors that shape psychological and brain processes underlying behavior. This talk will provide an overview of advances in cultural neuroscience, with discussion of the implications of this research for closing the gap in population mental health disparities. Click here
to register.

WHEN:Thursday,  January 14-15, 2016; see site for hours 
WHERE:  National Academy of Science Keck Center: 500 5th St. NW, Washington, DC 20001 
DESCRIPTION: What is the microbiome? The microbiome is a collection of micro organisms (i.e. bacterial fungi etc.) that we carry with us. Microbiomes can impact health, but the extent to which has yet to be determined. Attend this workshop to learn about the intersection between the environment, microbiomes and human health. Click here to attend the event or here
to register for the webcast. 

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. program, 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.

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