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PHI in the News

Women Around the World Lack Access to Comprehensive Contraception—This is the Solution

June 08, 2018 | Bethany Young Holt | Ms. Magazine

From a young woman in Ethiopia named Gelete to her own college-age daughter, PHI's Bethany Young Holt knows that women across the globe need comprehensive methods they can control and use discreetly to prevent unintended pregnancy and STIs like HIV. With the growing STI epidemic in many parts of the world, including in states like California, Young Holt explains in this article for Ms. Magazine why she has been fighting alongside other researchers for nearly three decades to help bring multipurpose prevention technologies—products that deliver varied combinations of HIV prevention, prevention of other STIs and contraception—to market.  more

New study says more than one alcoholic drink a day could shorten your life. Now, what?

May 30, 2018 | Gabriella Boston | The Washington Post

A large study recently published in the journal Lancet says the heart-healthy benefits from moderate drinking are slight, while the risk of stroke and other fatal heart conditions are significant. PHI's William Kerr, senior scientist at the Alcohol Research Group, weighs in on the study in this Washington Post article, saying the study can prompt a useful discussion about individual behavior and about drinking guidelines.  more

California could make food more affordable and help farmers; here’s how

May 21, 2018 | Michael Dimock & Eli Zigas | The San Francisco Chronicle

California could lead efforts to make healthy food more affordable for low-income people while also supporting its farmers by renewing and expanding its nutrition incentive program, say PHI's Michael Dimock, president of Roots of Change, and SPUR Food and Agriculture Policy Director Eli Zigas in this San Francisco Chronicle op-ed.

They argue that the nutrition incentive programs have a proven track record of improving nutrition, fighting hunger and supporting farmers—and strengthening them would serve as a stark counterpoint to the federal Farm Bill favored by House Republican leadership in Washington, which would cut millions of Americans from SNAP benefits (formerly known as food stamps).  more

State Medicaid Programs Are Seeing the Value of Telehealth at Home

May 15, 2018 | Eric Wicklund | mHealthIntelligence

In its spring 2018 update of the State Telehealth Laws and Reimbursement Policies report, PHI's Center for Connected Health Policy finds that more state programs are reimbursing for telehealth services originating from the patient's home, and that some states have added schools to the list of approved originating sites. It also finds that some 160 telehealth-related bills have been introduced during the 2018 legislative session in 44 states, continuing a digital health trend that saw more than 200 pieces of legislation introduced during the 2017 session.  more

Image: Center for Health Journalism

How one rural California county went from the state’s highest rate of opioid deaths — to zero

May 14, 2018 | Elizabeth Zach | Center for Health Journalism

The national opioid epidemic has been playing out most markedly in remote, rural areas like Plumas County in California, which in recent years had the highest rate of opioid-related deaths in the state despite being the eighth least populous. But the county has seen a dramatic drop in opioid-related deaths recently, a reversal credited in part to a network of regional coalitions tackling the problem across the state. The coalitions were formed by the California Health Care Foundation, and are now part of the California Opioid Safety Network, which is managed by PHI's Center for Health Leadership and Practice.  more

Using less plastic leads to fewer harmful chemicals in the body

May 11, 2018 | Katherine Martinko | TreeHugger

A small new pilot study by PHI's Child Health and Development Studies program, called ReThink Plastic, has found that taking steps to minimize exposure to plastic can reduce the number of these chemicals found in a woman's bloodstream within a fairly short time frame. Many plastics contain estrogen-mimicking chemicals that can enter a person's body through food packaging, receipts, and more, and there is strong evidence linking these chemicals to breast cancer.   more

Virtual doctor visits are getting more popular, but questions remain about who pays

May 06, 2018 | Steven Findlay | The Washington Post

The federal budget law Congress passed in February included a provision that significantly expands the use of telemedicine. The new law allows Medicare to cover telemedicine services for people who have had a stroke and those who get kidney dialysis. It also permits Medicare Advantage plans to offer telemedicine as a covered benefit.

“There’s much broader recognition of the benefits,” Mei Wa Kwong, executive director of PHI's Center for Connected Health Policy told the Washington Post. “The law is the latest to make telemedicine more accessible. But we still have a ways to go before most consumers are aware of the option.”  more

Telemedicine Takes Transgender Care Beyond The City

May 05, 2018 | Keren Landman | NPR

Twenty-two percent of transgender people say they have avoided a doctor or seeking health care out of concern that they would be discriminated against, and many fear discrimination will increase with strengthened protections for doctors and nurses refusing to provide certain care on religious grounds. In rural areas, doctors and nurses competent in transgender care are few and far between, and it can also be a challenge to find providers who offer respectful care for medical issues unrelated to gender identity.

"That is one of the beauties of telehealth," Mei Kwong, executive director of PHI's Center for Connected Health Policy, told NPR in this article that dives into the possibilities of remote video medical consultations. Kwong goes on to say that in communities where everybody knows each other's business, telemedicine adds a level of confidentiality that is particularly beneficial to people with potentially stigmatizing conditions.  more

More older Americans are smoking marijuana

April 25, 2018 | Keith Humphreys | Washington Post

Marijuana consumption in the U.S. is more prevalent today than during the conservative 1980s, but new research shows that the change has been driven by older Americans.

Researchers William Kerr, Camillia Lui and Yu Ye with PHI's Alcohol Research Group found in a recent study that only two age groups showed a significant rise in use. Compared with older Americans 30 years ago, Americans age 50 to 59 and 60 and older today are a remarkable 20 times more likely to use marijuana.  more

Adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census would be disastrous for public health

April 13, 2018 | Marta Induni | STAT

PHI's Marta Induni relies on data from the decennial census to ensure accurate representation when she designs and administers public health surveys. She says the Trump administration’s eleventh-hour decision to add a question about citizenship to the census will almost certainly have a major chilling effect among immigrants, compromising vital public health research and ultimately damaging the public's health.

Read more in her op-ed for STAT.  more

SARA gains momentum in opioid addiction fight

April 13, 2018 | The Siskiyou Daily News

Siskiyou Against Rx Addiction, a community-based coalition in Northern California tackling the opioid epidemic, is profiled in this local news article. The SARA coalition is part of the California Opioid Safety Network, managed by PHI's Center for Health Leadership and Practice and funded by the California Health Care Foundation. SARA has chosen to focus on implementing collective actions in the areas of public education, safe prescribing, access to naloxone and medication assisted treatment, and policy change.  more

Sharing Public Spaces to Improve Public Health

March 27, 2018 | Patricia Leigh Brown | The New York Times

A practice known as "shared use" is increasingly common and significant in poor urban and rural areas where safe, accessible parks are few and gym memberships are either unavailable or unaffordable for many. Shared use is an agreement in which a school, church or similar institution opens its doors to the public for health-related activities, typically led by a nonprofit or a city.

PHI's Cultiva La Salud has spearheaded a shared use deal with the city of Orange Cove in California's Central Valley to make schools available for evening Zumba classes, which is featured in this New York Times article.  more

Liquor is everywhere now in Washington, so why aren't we drinking more?

March 22, 2018 | David Hyde | KUOW Public Radio

Washington State has the highest taxes on liquor in the country, particularly since the state privatized liquor six years ago. After privatization, the average price for liquor jumped more than 15 percent on many items, according to PHI's Alcohol Research Group.

ARG's William Kerr speaks with Seattle's NPR affiliate KUOW about his research in this piece examining the business process of whiskey makers in Washington.  more

SMART, LifeRing, and Women For Sobriety Are as Effective as AA, Study Shows

March 20, 2018 | Tracy Chabala | The Fix

A new study from PHI's Alcohol Research Group suggests that alternative mutual help groups for people seeking sobriety support seem to be just as effective in treating alcohol use disorders as traditional 12-step groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).

“A lot of people don’t like AA, and someone may be deterred from going to treatment if they feel like they need to go to AA, specifically because of the spiritual emphasis... I’d like for people to have choice because I feel like it could help them access and utilize treatment broadly and form the kinds of networks they need in order to recover,” said ARG's Sarah Zemore in this in-depth article.  more

Image: cyclonebill (Spejlæg) / Wikimedia Commons

Trump Said He Wants To Spend Money On “Great Commercials” To Scare Kids Off Drugs. But Ads Haven’t Worked In The Past.

March 19, 2018 | Dan Vergano | BuzzFeed News

Although public health experts applauded many of the steps in Trump’s “Initiative to Stop Opioid Abuse” unveiled on Monday — such as expanding the use of the overdose-reversing drug naloxone and allowing Medicaid to pay for more beds at addiction treatment centers — one of the proposals they questioned is his calls for making anti-drug ads intended to scare young people.

“In general there hasn’t been much evidence for the effectiveness of trying to scare the pants off kids,” Lori Dorfman, director of PHI's Berkeley Media Studies Group, told BuzzFeed News.  more

Marin regains rank as state’s healthiest county

March 14, 2018 | Richard Halstead | The Marin Independent Journal

Marin County has regained its status as healthiest in California, according to the ninth annual County Health Rankings released this week. Last year, after seven consecutive years of being ranked No. 1, Marin slipped to No. 2 behind San Mateo County. The rankings make clear that good health is influenced by a number of factors beyond medical care.

“To address health, we must address housing, education, child care and other social determinants. And to address those, we must face the impact of racism, income inequality and immigration policy in communities,” said Mary Pittman, president and CEO of PHI, which helps disseminate the rankings in California.  more

Cummins initiative seeks to boost women; program will focus on empowerment, breaking down barriers

March 08, 2018 | The Republic

On International Women's Day, Indiana-based power company Cummins, Inc. accounced a multi-million dollar investment in programs designed to empower women and girls, including PHI's Rise Up. This partnership with the Cummins Powers Women initiative will expand Rise Up's global reach in enabling girls and women to transform their own lives, communities, and countries through advocacy and policy change.

Rise Up Founder Denise Dunning was featured as the keynote speaker for Cummins' Global Women’s Conference for Leadership in Indianapolis, where the Cummins initiative was announced.   more

Image courtesy of Refinery29

Michelle Obama Talks To A Girl From Guatemala About Why Education Is Vital

March 07, 2018 | Refinery29

For International Women's Day, former First Lady Michelle Obama held this Q&A with Alejandra Teleguario Santizo, a girl leader with PHI's Rise Up, and three other young women to highlight their efforts empowering girls around the world.

Last year, Alejandra began to speak out against sexual violence and street harassment in her community in Guatemala through local radio programs, with the help of Rise Up’s Let Girls Lead initiative.  more

Alcoholics Anonymous works for some people. A new study suggests the alternatives do too.

March 05, 2018 | German Lopez | Vox

Related image

For several years, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and the 12 steps have dominated addiction treatment in the U.S.—turning into the standard option within most addiction treatment programs in the country. A new study from the Alcohol Research Group, a program of the Public Health Institute, has found that other mutual help groups including Women for Sobriety (WFS), LifeRing Secular Recovery (LifeRing), and SMART Recovery (SMART) are viable alternatives to traditional 12-step groups like AA.

The author of this Vox article which highlights the study points out that for people who don’t like AA for whatever reason, this new research suggests that there may be a more complete solution available for alcohol addiction.  more

6 telehealth policy barriers to watch out for

February 23, 2018 | Julie Spitzer | Becker's Hospital Review

Healthcare organizations are increasingly looking to adopt telehealth programs, but they face a number of policy barriers that hinder their plans. This article breaks down each of those barriers, using information from PHI's Center for Connected Health Policy.  more

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