IHA Daily Briefing: June 8

Friday, June 8, 2018

Medicare Trust Fund Solvency Shortened Three Years
Suicide Rates Continue to Climb Nationwide
Report: Health Insurance Coverage by Occupation
Did You Know?
Briefly Noted

Medicare Trust Fund Solvency Shortened Three Years
On Tuesday, the Medicare Board of Trustees announced that the Medicare Hospital Insurance Trust Fund (which includes the Medicare Part A, Part B and Part D programs) will be sufficiently funded until 2026, three years earlier than projected in last year's report. The trustee report projects that total Medicare costs will increase from approximately 3.7 percent of Gross Domestic Product in 2017 to 5.8 percent in 2038, primarily due to the increasing aging population and healthcare costs. The report recommends further reforms to the Medicare program for greater solvency.

The Medicare Board of Trustees annually reports to Congress on the financial operations and actuarial status of the program. Its members include:

  • Alex M. Azar, U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services Secretary;
  • Steven Mnuchin, Treasury Secretary and Managing Trustee;
  • Alexander Acosta, U.S. Dept. of Labor Secretary;
  • Nancy A. Berryhill, Acting Social Security Commissioner; and
  • Seema Verma, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator.

The complete report is available here.

Suicide Rates Continue to Climb Nationwide
According to the latest Vital Signs report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide rates have been rising in nearly every state. In 2016, nearly 45,000 Americans age 10 or older died by suicide. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death and is one of just three leading causes that are on the rise.

From 1999 to 2016, the suicide rate went up more than 30 percent in half the states nationwide. During that timeframe, Illinois’ suicide rate increased 22.8 percent. See the CDC’s fact sheet.

Suicide is rarely caused by a single factor. Although suicide prevention efforts largely focus on identifying and providing treatment for people with mental health conditions, there are many additional opportunities for prevention.

Researchers found that more than half of people who died by suicide did not have a known diagnosed mental health condition at the time of death. Relationship problems or loss, substance misuse, physical health problems, and job, money, legal or housing stress often contributed to risk for suicide. Firearms were the most common method of suicide used by those with and without a known diagnosed mental health condition.

The report recommends that states take a comprehensive public health approach to suicide prevention and address the range of factors contributing to suicide. This requires coordination and cooperation from every sector of society: government, public health, healthcare, employers, education, media, and community organizations.

The CDC recommends that healthcare systems:

  • Provide high quality, ongoing care focused on patient safety and suicide prevention;
  • Make sure affordable and effective mental and physical healthcare is available where people live; and
  • Train providers in adopting proven treatments for patients at risk of suicide.

Last year, the CDC released “Preventing Suicide: A Technical Package of Policy, Programs, and Practices” to provide communities with strategies to reduce the risks for suicides. Read a CDC press release.

Report: Health Insurance Coverage by Occupation
A recent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report analyzed data from the 2013 and 2014 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System from 17 states, including Illinois, by occupational group. It found that among all workers aged 18–64 years, the prevalence of being uninsured declined 21 percent between 2013 and 2014, from 16 percent to 12.7 percent. The report noted that in 2014:

  • The prevalence of being uninsured ranged from 2.7 percent for those working in community and social services and the education, training and library fields to 37 percent for those working in building and grounds cleaning and maintenance;
  • The prevalence of being uninsured among healthcare practitioners was 2.8 percent; and
  • The prevalence of being uninsured among those working in healthcare support was 11.3 percent.

Did You Know?
In honor of the American Hospital Association's Community Health Improvement Week, look back at archival photos documenting a couple of the nation's early 20th century public health efforts: a poster and a float from Pendleton, Oregon promote the American Red Cross' work in community health, while a mobile well baby clinic represents a pilot initiative by the U.S. Children's Bureau to bring health centers to rural communities.

Briefly Noted
Voices For Illinois Children has released its analysis of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data on the child death rate in Illinois. Its analysis showed that while the state’s overall child death rate in 2015 (52.2 per 100,000 children) is on par with the national average, the disparity between black and white child deaths is among the highest in the nation. Also, the analysis found significant county-level child death disparities exist throughout the state. Read more.