Developing Community and Public Health Capacity for Change

March Health Awareness Campaigns

National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month
Brain Injury Awareness Month
National Kidney Cancer Awareness Month
Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month
National Myeloma Awareness Month
National Nutrition Month
National Endometriosis Month
Workplace Eye Wellness Month
National Save Your Vision Month
Hemophilia Month
National Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Awareness Month
American Red Cross Month
Learning Disabilities Awareness Month
National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month
National Eye Donor Month
National Poison Prevention Month
National Professional Social Work Month
Save Your Vision Month

For those in community or public health, the topics in this article will be nothing new-but as busy professionals ourselves, we often find it helpful to be reminded of the basic premises of our chosen fields. It’s so easy in our hectic-and very important-drive to complete work tasks that we lose sight of those core values for which we strive.

There are a growing number of evidence-based interventions for use by community and public health professionals to promote health and prevent disease. [Leeman, Calancie, et al: 2015] These practices have the potential to improve environments, behaviors, and health outcomes in our communities. In order to adopt these practices, however, public health agencies and community partners often need additional tools, strategies, and training to enhance their capacity to improve health outcomes.

The most effective prevention strategies actively engage the communities they are intended to serve. Effective health promotion and health-enhancing social change require communities to identify, plan, channel resources, and take action. The concept that a community is the solution to its own problems is not new. There is considerable support for designing community-based interventions to improve the health behaviors and overall health status of community members. According to Sotomayor, Pawlik, and Dominguez in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease, “These community-based interventions are important because health disparities and the high rate of chronic diseases in minority populations, particularly among those who are poor and lack access to community resources, are not likely to be prevented without them.” [Sotomayor, Pawlik, and Dominguez: 2007]

The U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion’s Healthy People 2020 strives to

Identify nationwide health improvement priorities.
Increase public awareness and understanding of the determinants of health, disease, and disability and the opportunities for progress.
Provide measurable objectives and goals that are applicable at the national, State, and local levels.
Engage multiple sectors to take actions to strengthen policies and improve practices that are driven by the best available evidence and knowledge.
Identify critical research, evaluation, and data collection needs.

Many health prevention and promotion consultants stress the importance that local leaders play in building community health. The Healthy People 2020 toolkit Identifying & Engaging Community Partners, answers the question “How Do You Define Meaningful Citizen Participation?” in this way:

Power to make decisions and affect outcomes
Citizen driven; from the community up, not top down
Proactive, not reactive
Encourages and facilitates broad community involvement
Inclusive, not exclusive; accessible to all
Balanced representation in the participation process; not just major “partners”
Consensus-oriented decision making Compromise; give and take
Opportunities for involvement in all levels of activity, which include creating a vision, planning, prioritizing, deciding, evaluating [ODPHP: 2010]

Building strong relationships with necessary community partners can be time consuming. Facilitating meetings to allow the meaningful participation outlined above requires a particular, practiced set of skills. Here’s where a community health consultant could be extremely valuable. Each community health consultant is different, of course, but in general he or she will have significant experience with the following tasks:

Developing health education and promotion programs, such as school or community presentations, workshops, trainings, etc.
Writing and formatting health education materials, such as reports, bulletins, and visual aids, to address public health concerns.
Developing working relationships with agencies and organizations interested in public health.
Designing and conducting evaluations to assess the quality and performance of health communication and education programs.
Collaborating with community groups and public health officials to identify community health needs and the availability of services needed.
Writing press releases and public service announcements, conducting media campaigns, or maintaining program-related Web sites.
Developing grant proposals to obtain funding for health education programs and related work.

Health Care Reform – Busting The 3 Biggest Myths Of ObamaCare

In the last few months we’ve seen a lot of Health Care Reform rules and regulations being introduced by the Health and Human Services Department. Every time that happens, the media gets hold of it and all kinds of articles are written in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and the TV network news programs talk about it. All the analysts start talking about the pros and cons, and what it means to businesses and individuals.

The problem with this is, many times one writer looked at the regulation, and wrote a piece about it. Then other writers start using pieces from that first article and rewriting parts to fit their article. By the time the information gets widely distributed, the actual regulations and rules get twisted and distorted, and what actually shows up in the media sometimes just doesn’t truly represent the reality of what the regulations say.

There’s a lot of misunderstanding about what is going on with ObamaCare, and one of the things that I’ve noticed in discussions with clients, is that there’s an underlying set of myths that people have picked up about health care reform that just aren’t true. But because of all they’ve heard in the media, people believe these myths are actually true.

Today we’re going to talk about three myths I hear most commonly. Not everybody believes these myths, but enough do, and others are unsure what to believe, so it warrants dispelling these myths now.

The first one is that health care reform only affects uninsured people. The second one is that Medicare benefits and the Medicare program isn’t going to be affected by health care reform. And then the last one is that health care reform is going to reduce the costs of healthcare.

Health Care Reform Only Affects Uninsured

Let’s look at the first myth about health care reform only affecting uninsured people. In a lot of the discussions I have with clients, there are several expressions they use: “I already have coverage, so I won’t be affected by ObamaCare,” or “I’ll just keep my grandfathered health insurance plan,” and the last one – and this one I can give them a little bit of leeway, because part of what they’re saying is true — is “I have group health insurance, so I won’t be affected by health care reform.”

Well, the reality is that health care reform is actually going to affect everybody. Starting in 2014, we’re going to have a whole new set of health plans, and those plans have very rich benefits with lots of extra features that the existing plans today don’t offer. So these new plans are going to be higher cost.

Health Care Reform’s Effect On People With Health Insurance

People that currently have health insurance are going to be transitioned into these new plans sometime in 2014. So the insured will be directly affected by this because the health plans they have today are going away, and they will be mapped into a new ObamaCare plan in 2014.

Health Care Reform Effect On The Uninsured

The uninsured have an additional issue in that if they don’t get health insurance in 2014, they face a mandate penalty. Some of the healthy uninsured are going to look at that penalty and say, “Well, the penalty is 1% of my adjusted gross income; I make $50,000, so I’ll pay a $500 penalty or $1,000 for health insurance. In that case I’ll just take the penalty.” But either way, they will be directly affected by health care reform. Through the mandate it affects the insured as well as the uninsured.

Health Care Reform Effect On People With Grandfathered Health Plans

People that have grandfathered health insurance plans are not going to be directly affected by health care reform. But because of the life cycle of their grandfathered health plan, it’s going to make those plans more costly as they discover that there are plans available now that they can easily transfer to that have a richer set of benefits that would be more beneficial for any chronic health issues they may have.

For people who stay in those grandfathered plans, the pool of subscribers in the plan are going to start to shrink, and as that happens, the cost of those grandfathered health insurance plans will increase even faster than they are now. Therefore, people in grandfathered health plans will also be impacted by ObamaCare.