IHA Daily Briefing: Jan. 9

New General Assembly Inaugurated
ACS: Cancer Deaths Decline: Disparities Remain
PAHPA Passes U.S. House
Briefly Noted

New General Assembly Inaugurated
The new 101st Illinois General Assembly was inaugurated in Springfield this afternoon, with about one-third of lawmakers who took the oath being different from the previous General Assembly. However, the four key legislative leaders remain the same after being re-elected to their posts: Senate President John Cullerton, Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady, House Speaker Michael Madigan, and House Republican Leader Jim Durkin.

Democrats now have veto-proof super majorities in both chambers: 40-19 in the Senate and 74-44 in the House.

Lawmakers face continuing fiscal challenges, including a state budget deficit of more than $1 billion, a $7 billion backlog of unpaid bills, and unfunded state pension obligations of more than $130 billion.

The new Governor, J.B. Pritzker, and other state constitutional officers will be sworn in on Monday, Jan. 14. Pritzker is scheduled to deliver his first state budget address on Feb. 20.

ACS: Cancer Deaths Decline; Disparities Remain
A 25-year decline in cancer death rates has resulted in a 27 percent drop in the overall cancer death rate in the U.S, says the American Cancer Society (ACS). The annual ACS report estimates that this steady decline between 1991 and 2016 has led to approximately 2.6 million fewer cancer deaths. Since its peak of 215.1 deaths (per 100,000 population) in 1991, the cancer death rate has dropped steadily by approximately 1.5 percent per year to 156.0 in 2016.

For 2019, the ACS estimates that 1,762,450 new cancer cases and 606,880 cancer deaths will occur in the U.S. In Illinois, the ACS estimates that there will be 68,560 new cases, with the majority of cases related to female breast cancer, lung and bronchus cancers, colon and rectum cancers, prostate cancer, and skin melanoma. Cancer deaths in Illinois for 2019 are estimated to be close to 24,500, with the majority of deaths caused by lung and bronchus cancers, colon and rectum cancers, female breast cancers, pancreas cancer, and prostate cancer.

The ACS attributes the cancer mortality decline to steady reductions in smoking and advances in early detection and treatment, which are reflected in the declines for the four major cancers: lung, breast, prostate, and colorectal. However, death rates rose from 2012 through 2016 for liver (1.2 percent per year in men; 2.6 percent per year in women), pancreatic (men only, by 0.3 percent per year), and uterine corpus (endometrial) cancers (2.1 percent per year), as well as for cancers of the brain and other nervous system, soft tissue (including heart), and sites within the oral cavity and pharynx associated with the human papillomavirus.

Although the racial gap in cancer mortality is slowly narrowing, the ACS says that socioeconomic inequalities are widening, with residents of the poorest counties experiencing an increasingly disproportionate burden of the most preventable cancers. For example, cervical cancer mortality among women in poor counties in the U.S. is twice that of women in affluent counties, while lung and liver cancer mortality is more than 40 percent higher in men living in poor counties compared to those in affluent ones. Meanwhile, socioeconomic inequalities in cancer mortality are small or non-existent for cancers that are less responsive to prevention and/or treatment, like pancreatic and ovarian cancers.

In 2016, cancer was the second leading cause of death overall in the U.S., with heart disease being the leading cause of death.

PAHPA Passes U.S. House
Late Tuesday, the House of Representatives passed the bipartisan Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness (PAHPA) Act of 2019 (H.R. 269), which reauthorizes the Hospital Preparedness Program and Public Health Emergency Preparedness Program. The legislation provides support for preparing and responding to national and global public health emergencies, including federal funding to support emergency preparedness efforts for 11 regional healthcare coalitions across Illinois.

The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.

Briefly Noted
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma announced this week that Chris Traylor will be acting director of Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Traylor, who previously served as executive commissioner of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission and as the state’s Medicaid director, replaces Mary Mayhew, who left CMS to run Florida’s health department.