A shooting at North Park Elementary School in San Bernardino this week took the life of a special ed teacher and one of her students, and wounded another child before the shooter took his own life. The gunman was the estranged husband of the teacher, with a history of domestic violence and gun offenses. Domestic violence is at the center of the majority of mass shootings (shootings in which four or more people are killed) and domestic violence can also be a “warning sign” for mass shootings not targeting family members (as a New York Times op-ed worded it, “Men who commit violence rehearse and perfect it against their families first. Women and children are target practice, and the home is the training ground for these men’s later actions.”). Vox reports on the role of guns in domestic violence outcomes: “A lot of research demonstrates that the presence of a gun greatly increases the risk of death in a domestic abuse situation. One telling study from 2004, published by the US Department of Justice, compared women who were murdered by a partner with women who survived domestic abuse situations. The study found that 53 percent of the women who were murdered had a gun in the house, while just 15.4 percent of women who survived the abuse had a firearm in their homes. Based on these numbers, it seems like the presence of a gun more than triples the risk of death in a domestic violence situation.”
CityLab shares the findings of a 2011 study that “strapped heart monitors onto test subjects and set them loose on the side streets of Philadelphia. The subjects strolled around two clusters of vacant lots. Some of the lots had received a “greening” treatment from members of the Philadelphia Horticulture Society, who’d removed debris, planted grass and trees, and installed a low wooden post-and-rail fence. The other lots were untreated as a control. After analyzing GPS data from the subjects’ walks, before and after greening, the scientists found that walking in proximity to a greened space decreased subjects’ heart rates, compared to a non-greened vacant lot. It’s just one example of how directly the city affects the bodies of those who live in it. “What I think is magical is that urban greening interventions are pretty simple,” says Joseph Schilling, a senior research associate in the Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center. “It's not as if it takes tremendous improvement to the landscape, and yet you still see this health benefit.”’
Vox summarizes actions taken by Sessions at the Justice Department over recent weeks: “Sessions has indicated a desire to roll back civil rights oversight of abusive police departments, stampeded over states’ objections to immigration enforcement raids at courthouses, dropped efforts to improve forensic science, directed federal prosecutors to dedicate a larger share of their resources to deporting immigrants, launched a new crackdown on high-tech guest worker visas, and indicated a desire to bring back old school “war on drugs” policies, including a stepped-up federal crackdown on marijuana use.”
The New York Times reports on Trump administration efforts to roll back protections for immigrants facing deportation. “For more than 15 years, jails that hold immigrants facing deportation have had to follow a growing list of requirements: Notify immigration officials if a detainee spends two weeks or longer in solitary confinement. Check on suicidal inmates every 15 minutes, and evaluate their mental health every day. Inform detainees, in languages they can understand, how to obtain medical care. In disciplinary hearings, provide a staff member who can advocate in English on the detainee’s behalf. But as the Trump administration seeks to quickly find jail space for its crackdown on illegal immigration, it is moving to curtail these rules as a way to entice more sheriffs and local officials to make their correctional facilities available.”
Rewire reports on the Kids Caravan, a four-city tour (concluding this week in Washington, DC) by children of color to highlight their families’ experiences with the immigration system. “Donald Trump, we can’t be living like this,” [11-year-old Uriel Pedro] Rodriguez said at Wednesday’s press conference. “We can’t keep living with fear that at any moment our parents can be arrested leading to a deportation. It’s in your hands to keep our families united.”
New research published in JAMA Cardiology finds that rates of heart attack and stroke have dropped in New York counties that have enacted trans fat bans in restaurants, with benefits emerging three years after bans went into effect.
Earlier this week, a federal judge ruled that Texas intentionally and illegally discriminated against African-American and Hispanic voters in crafting its 2011 voter ID law.
Rewire reports on the projected impacts of Trump withdrawing a Title X rule signed by President Obama that would have blocked state-level interference in federal funding for family planning providers like Planned Parenthood. “Eliminating Title X protections represents the GOP’s latest strike to women’s health-care services that transgender and gender nonconforming people rely on too… Withdrawing the rule… hinders the ability of four million Title X patients, including 1.5 million Planned Parenthood patients, to access quality, affordable health care. Doing so disproportionately impacts people of color. Of the four million Title X patients in 2015, 30 percent self-identified as Black or African American, Asian, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, or American Indian or Alaska Native; 32 percent self-identified as Hispanic or Latino; and 13 percent had limited English proficiency.”
Last week, the California legislature passed the “largest gas tax increase in state history in a move projected to raise $52 billion over 10 years to fix the state's crumbling roads, bridges, and public transit systems. The state already has some of the highest gas taxes in the country. But the falling price of gas, increased fuel efficiency, and the popularity of hybrid and electric vehicles has recently crimped tax revenues, contributing to an estimated $135 billion backlog in road and bridge repairs. The new tax is designed to plug that gap with a 12-cent per gallon increase in the gas tax, as well as new taxes on diesel fuel, a $100 annual fee for electric cars, and higher vehicle registration fees.”
The Lancet released a five-part series examining the factors that contribute to inequities in U.S. healthcare, including statistics (see this infographic).
CMMI announced 32 recipients of Accountable Health Communities cooperative agreement awards in the Assistance and Alignment tracks; they will divvy up $120 million. "Over a five-year period, CMS will implement and test the three-track AHC model to support local communities in addressing the health-related social needs of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries by bridging the gap between clinical and community service providers. Social needs include housing instability, food insecurity, utility needs, interpersonal violence and transportation."
Healthcare groups in California are pushing a progressive agenda that includes building a single-payer system and rising drug costs, with activists saying the uncertain political climate creates an opening for local innovation and incremental change that won’t play on a national level, Politico reports.
Three voluntary programs designed to improve health care delivery and lower costs were more successful in reducing hospital readmission rates than the ACA’s mandatory Medicare Hospital Readmission Reduction Program, JAMA Internal Medicine reports.
The Washington Post reports that the administration’s failure to fill important public health positions across the government (such as director of the CDC and USAID) leaves the nation vulnerable if a pandemic hits. Experts say an outbreak is “inevitable,” and that every president since Reagan has faced threats from infectious disease.
President Trump said that if Democrats won’t discuss ACA repeal, he may cut payments for cost-sharing subsidies that help low-income people get health care, according to a Wall Street Journal interview. The payments reduce copayments and deductibles for low-income people, and eliminating them would mean a lot of Americans would go uninsured, ThinkProgress reports. Healthcare industry groups and business community organizations sent a letter to Trump asking him to continue the subsidies.
When states expanded eligibility for Medicaid they saw larger health care expenditures, but the costs were covered with federal funding, and the states didn’t have to skimp on other policy priorities — such as environment, housing and other public health initiatives — to make ends meet—which runs counter to a key Republican argument against expanding Medicaid .“This is a potential big benefit, not only to people who get coverage, but to state economies,” said Benjamin Sommers, an associate professor of health policy and economics at Harvard University’s public health school, and a study author, in KHN.
Modern Healthcare reports that Trump’s expected nominee for a national effort to curb drug addiction is U.S. Rep. Tom Marino of Pennsylvania, whose legislative history shows preference for drugmakers.