Health Insecurities: Does Data Show Improvement?

Is There A Backwards Slide?

In a June 2016 GALLUP article  by Jeffrey M. Jones and Nader Nekvasil it was reported that U.S. Healthcare Insecurity was at a  record low as “fewer Americans reported not having enough money to pay for necessary healthcare and/or medicine.”

These findings are based on interviews conducted daily from January 2008 through March 2016 as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. Gallup and Healthways classify Americans as healthcare insecure if they report being unable to pay for healthcare and/or medicines they or their family needed at some point in the past 12 months.

Overall, the percentage of U.S. adults with healthcare insecurity has dropped 3.5 percentage points since the fourth quarter of 2013. This drop in healthcare insecurity coincides with the decline in the percentage of uninsured Americans, which has fallen from 17.1% in the fourth quarter of 2013 — just before the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that Americans have health insurance went into effect — to 11.0% in the first quarter of this year.

The increase in the percentage of Americans having health insurance is likely a key reason why fewer Americans are struggling to pay for healthcare. Generally, those without health insurance are at least three times more likely to report not having enough money for healthcare/medicine than their counterparts with health insurance. In the most recent quarter, 41.8% of the uninsured said they had struggled to pay for healthcare costs, compared with 12.3% of those with insurance.

As a certified ACA In-Person Counselor it is quite frightening to consider the cost in lives that an ill-advised, ill-conceived repeal of the Affordable Care Act will cost. This gives me great pause and concern about how the most vulnerable populations will survive.  I worked with hundreds of families between 2014-2015 in Illinois who were able to gain and afford coverage under the provisions of the ACA. Families that otherwise who would have not received emergency and necessary care, including surgeries that saved lives. These changes will not only affect the Black and Brown communities, they will impact all impoverished communities. The buzz words being offered are “everyone will access to healthcare” well you can have “access” to a multitude of services in a free country. However, if you can’t afford them is it really accessible.

As reported in CRAINS Chicago Business, in Illinois, more than 1 million people gained insurance under the ACA, and, of those, 650,000 qualified under a Medicaid expansion that House Republicans appear keen to let bleed. Estimates from the Congressional Budget Office project that the ranks of the uninsured would double by 2026, which would mean a step back into the time warp of too many people delaying treatment and then landing in emergency rooms after their problems are critical. For taxpayers, it’s much cheaper to keep tabs on a diabetic than it is to pay for kidney dialysis or limb amputations—two very real outcomes when the disease goes untreated.

What Do We Stand To Lose?

While Medicaid expansion, minimal essential coverage, zero lifetime maximums and free preventative services are on the table to be repealed, another provision of the ACA is the requirement for hospitals to conduct “community health needs assessments” to justify the tax exemptions they receive for providing “charity care”. These community health needs assessments uncovered and confirmed what may sociologists and human service professionals already new. There are other social determinants to health. Health is holistic and includes more than a patient’s medical history. These social determinants include but are not limited to:

  • Access to healthy food (Food Deserts)
  • Susceptibility to violence (Domestic and Community)
  • Housing Insecurities
  • Unemployment
  • Access to transportation
  • Behavioral Health

Many hospitals as a result of the CHNAs developed or grew programs to address these problems in their communities. “These plans will improve population health, reduce costs and result in better quality care. Furthermore, these plans provide new opportunities for hospitals to invest in upstream interventions– working to make policy, systems and environment improvements that will impact the communities in which they serve.”-Bechara Choucair, M.D, Former Commissioner, Chicago Department of Public Health

“If the ranks of the uninsured or underinsured grow, then charity care will increase. And the ability to do some of these more creative efforts will be hampered.” said -Joan Quinlan VP for Community Health Massachusetts General

Tools We Can Use

The Chicago Department of Public Health will be deploying an updated version of the Chicago Health Atlas which will include the findings, strategies and implementation plan from Healthy Chicago 2.0.  Data from this collaboration is being used to identify and address 10 priority areas to focus community health improvement efforts on over the next 4 years. These priority areas include both health outcomes and social determinants of health, as well as public health infrastructure elements like partnerships and data.

The Chicago Health Atlas is a resident facing Web site for displaying aggregate health-related information on a map so that people can see the prevalence of specific health conditions in their area and find out how they can improve their health and get  information about health care provider options in their communities.

What Now: After The Vote?

So, what now? What next? This is a small victory, a reprieve if you will. This will undoubtedly rear it’s head again before this Presidency ends. We must continue to “Listen.”  Listen to the stories of the residents and Americans whose lives and health was positively impacted by their ability to obtain health care either through the Marketplace or through expanded Medicaid coverage. We listen to the lawmakers from our state and follow their comments and votes on the measure which will change the lives of many Chicagoans. We listen to seek to understand  the elements that do need to be changed; and change them for the good. This is not a partisan issue. Everyone in Illinois who is concerned about the well-being of our fellow citizens should be concerned about the impact of this process on our city and our state.

 

 

Women in Tech Speakers Series

Co-authored by Kyla Williams and Derek Eder

Smart Chicago Collaborative and Chi Hack Night have teamed up to create a speaking series in celebration of Women’s History Month in an effort to elevate the talented, diverse women in civic-driven technology across Chicago.

Too often in the tech space we hear about what people do or what product they have made and less about their personal narratives. In this series, we encourage our speakers to share their stories as a transformative learning and inspirational opportunity.

Additionally, we acknowledge the lack of diversity in the civic tech community and believe that becoming more community-based with easier opportunities for engagement and gaining experience will spurn interest in the field and potentially serve as an economic solution to fill technology vacancies in Chicago.

This partnership is especially timely considering Smart Chicago is currently an all women team fighting the good fight on behalf of civic technology and engagement and Chi Hack Night has set a priority area of focus on diversifying its thriving developer community.

The Women in Tech Speakers Series will coincide with the four weekly Chi Hack Night events that occur on Tuesdays at Braintree in Merchandise Mart for the month of March.

Additionally, two community events will be held on Wednesday, March 29th in Homan Square and Thursday March 30th at the DuSable Museum.

It’s important to ensure we are not just highlighting women in technology and their respective stories, but also their roles within the field. Further, if we are going to influence a paradigm shift and draw more interest into the field, demystifying roles and types of opportunities is necessary. We are hopeful that we will be able to continue this partnership and related activities on an ongoing basis, as this is important work.

Event #1 – March 7th, 6pm

The Speaker Series kicks off tonight March 7th with special guest Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.

Braintree
222 W Merchandise Mart Plz, 8th Floor
Chicago, IL 60654

RSVP – sold out!

Event #2 – March 14th, 6pm

Next week will feature Sandee Kastrul, president and co-founder of i.c.stars, an innovative nonprofit leadership and technology training program founded in 1999 to prepare inner-city adults for technology careers and community leadership.

Braintree
222 W Merchandise Mart Plz,8th Floor
Chicago, IL 60654

RSVP

Event #3 – March 21st, 6pm

Our third event will feature Melissa Pierce, Director of “Born with Curiosity: The Story of Grace Murray Hopper”, an independent documentary about Grace Hopper, who in 1944, was one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer and invented the first compiler for a computer programming language.

Braintree
222 W Merchandise Mart Plz,8th Floor
Chicago, IL 60654

RSVP

Event #4 – March 28th

On Tuesday, March 28th, we will welcome Robin Robinson, a longtime Chicago television news anchor turned special advisor on community affairs for the Chicago Police Department. In her talk, Robin will discuss the role she has taken on and the work needed to rebuild trust between the Chicago Police Department and the communities it serves. We also welcome the Chicago Federation for Women as they share their Talk It Out initiative, a weeklong conversation series designed to spark understanding about gender bias and the ways it affects women and men.

Braintree
222 W Merchandise Mart Plz, 8th Floor
Chicago, IL 60654

RSVP

Event #5 – Creators & Founders: Women in Civic Tech

Wednesday, March 29th we will welcome a panel of creators and founders, with speakers Allyson Scrutchens of Forward Planning and Dima Elissa of VisMed-3D.              

Homan Square Community Center
3517 W. Arthington Street
Chicago, IL 60624

RSVP

Event #6 – Amplifiers of Community Voice: Women in Civic Tech

Thursday March 30th  we will welcome a panel of amplifiers of community voice with speakers Andrea Hart of City Bureau, Aviva Rosman of Ballot Ready, and Tiana Epps-Johnson of Center for Tech and Civic Life.

DuSable Museum-Auditorium
740 East 56th Place
Chicago, IL 60637

RSVP

We hope you’ll join us in celebrating Women’s History Month and Chicago’s unique and amazing civic technology community. Here’s to Women’s History Month and fruitful partnerships!

 

Chicago Health Atlas Updates

Health & Disability Advocates (HDA) and Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) added a new data set to the Chicago Health Atlas. Demographic and population health data is now available by Hospital Service Area. HDA and CDPH co-conven the Healthy Chicago Hospital Collaborative one of the largest hospital collaborations in the United States. The Collaborative strives for health improvement across Chicago making Access to Care, Mental Health, and Obesity top priorities.

 “This new data set is the first time, to our knowledge that population health has been made available at the Hospital Service Area level. These data will help hospitals in their efforts to better understand the needs of the communities they serve, not just their own patients.”- Erica Salem, MPH, Director of Strategic Health Initiatives, Health & Disability Advocates.

screen-shot-2016-09-12-at-3-35-16-pm

 

The addition of this data is the initial phase of a re-visioning of the Chicago Health Atlas.

“We expect to launch new, robust and vibrant Chicago Health Atlas by Spring 2017. The Chicago Health Atlas will not lose any of it’s functionality and will continue to be of value to the users who look to the Atlas for data. It will be more interactive.”- Kyla Williams, Interim Executive Director, Smart Chicago Collaborative.

The Chicago Health Atlas continues to be the place where you can go to view citywide information about health trends and take action to improve your own health with support by the Ortho S. A. Sprague Memorial Institute.

 

 

 

 

 

Youth-Led Tech Career Days 2016

This year the Youth-Led Tech program developed targeted Career Days and a Career Development Day. These two programs were designed and integrated into the 6-week technology curriculum to introduce youth to careers both technical and non technical, as well as assist them in beginning to think more strategically and concretely about how to secure employment.

The Youth-Led curriculum is fluid enough to allow for the inclusion of speakers three times during the six-week program and a full day with Dr. Phyllis West, PhD. Students were visited by several local professionals who shared their stories at each site in the community they selected.

Our Roseland Community sites were visited by Jeffrey Beckham the owner of Black Box Creative during the first Career Day held July 7, 2016.

Special guest is here at Dr. Elzie Young Community Center

David Wilkins owner of Rally Cap and Divine Designs visited with our Austin students.

RallyCap at career Day

Jazelle Smith rounded out the first wave of entrepreneurs for the first Career Day.

Jazelle Career Day

The second and third Career Days were held July 21st and July 28th.

Our special guest was Dr. Philips West _D

The second component to the workforce readiness program, “How to Develop a Career Plan 101” with Dr. Phyllis West, PhD focused on “developing a personalized career plan and an overview of strategies of successful people.”  The workshop introduced students to the fundamentals of career planning, helped identify their interests and career goals and learn the trends of the fastest growing careers in America.

 

Leslie Durr Joins Smart Chicago as Project Coordinator

Leslie DurrLeslie Durr  joins the Smart Chicago Collaborative as a Project Coordinator.She will serve as the point person for projects including Chicago Health Atlas, Smart Health Centers, Foodborne, Hive Learning Networks and Youth-Led Tech. She will also be working to add several new projects to our portfolio.

Her experience includes program development and grant management in the non-profit sector, most recently with the Southland Health Care Forum as the Project Director for the State of Illinois Get Covered Campaign.

Leslie has her Master of Science in Human Service Administration from Spertus College and Bachelor of Science in Mass Communications from Jackson State University.

You can follow her work on Twitter.

Please join us in welcoming Leslie Durr.

Healthy Chicago 2.0: City Sets Broad, Data-driven Goals

Healthy Chicago 2.0 launch

Allison Arwady, ‎chief medical officer at the Chicago Department of Public Health, discusses infectious disease rates March 29 at the Healthy Chicago 2.0 launch.

Chicago’s 2020 public-health plan is data driven. The city is putting numbers behind 60 health outcomes it wants to improve, from raising life expectancy to reducing infant mortality, gun violence, obesity and even binge drinking.

A 60-page report sets 82 public-health objectives to reach by the end of the decade. Many address larger issues that touch on health. Chicago aims to cut serious injuries in traffic accidents by one-third, and to boost walking, biking and public transit commutes 10 percent.

“The environment is right to bring in new data sets,” said epidemiologist Nik Prachand, the report’s co-author with deputy health commissioner Jaime Dircksen. Facing a 4 percent cut in the department’s funding, health professionals are trying to influence choices throughout the $7.8 billion city budget.

At the report’s March 29 unveiling, the South Shore Cultural Center displayed city maps from the report, with areas of the greatest need colored red. On measures of crime, housing and economic development, the most-afflicted areas matched the neighborhoods with poor health outcomes. (Smart Chicago Collaborative presents much of this data on its Chicago Health Atlas website.)

Teen birth rates continue to fall,” said Dr. Julie Morita, the city’s health commissioner. Chicago has blown through a 2020 citywide target set in 2011. The city also met its 2011 goal for cutting smoking among high-schoolers, and is on track to cut HIV diagnoses.

“But disparities persist,” Morita said. “This is not acceptable.” The city counts more than 70 per 1,000 teen births in West Garfield Park and West Englewood, but less than 5 per 1,000 in other neighborhoods.

Communities that score low for educational, social and economic attainment also show the most births among teenagers, plus higher risks of outcomes from asthma to homicide. “It became clear to us that this should drive our work with Healthy Chicago 2.0,” Morita said – not only treating poor health but addressing its root causes.

Top priorities in the 2020 plan include behavioral health, adult and adolescent health, chronic and infectious disease, and violence. Each interest comes with numeric targets for change. The behavioral health plan would cut ambulance calls for suspected opiate overdoses 20 percent and mental-health hospitalizations 10 percent, and would step up treatment for severe psychological stress by 10 percent. Specific communities get special attention, including a pledge to cut suicide attempts by 10 percent among gay or transgender teens.

Local residents and health workers helped guide the broader approach in 18 months of agenda-setting meetings. Attendees at the plan’s launch say the approach makes sense: They see similar connections among bad results of all sorts.

“Typically at a restaurant we have found a correlation between labor violations and health and sanitation violations,” said Felipe Tendick Matesanz, development specialist at Restaurant Opportunities Centers United.

Tendick Matesanz was part of a team that set the plan’s community development strategies. It aims to improve well-being by boosting savings and assets among low-income residents. The city still needs baseline measurements for that goal.

The plan’s first deliverables are steps toward better metrics. The city will adopt research principles and launch a “public health data partnership” by July 1. Prachand wants to track health inequities using retail, insurance, land use and other metrics. He also wants to draft standards for data integrity and privacy.

“We’re looking to shake up the private sector,” he said. “People complain about government data being slow, but there’s a firewall around private data. It’s not available to you.”

To build a framework for evidence-based policy, the city pledges to launch a functional data network by July 2017. By the end of 2017, it should have infrastructure in place for training and for publicizing research.

Six public meetings in May will give an overview of the plan and ask for ideas.

Caregivers are enthusiastic about the expansive view of the city’s health. “It’s going to take the whole community of people to work cohesively together,” said public-health nurse Donna Feaster.

“For all of us this is part of our mission. In the end, it’s about people who need services,” said Karen Reitan, executive director of the Public Health Institute of Metropolitan Chicago, who served on the report’s steering committee. She believes the city’s goal-setting collaborators in the health community now will be motivated to act.

Reitan thinks the push for metrics will make agencies more responsive too. “There’s a school of thought, which I don’t agree with,” she said. “If it did not get recorded, it did not happen.”