One of the topics I will discuss specific to World Health Day is the term “population health.” It was introduced in 2003 and defined as “the health outcome of a group of individuals, including the distribution of such outcomes within the group.”
United Way of Greater Cleveland works on addressing the health of the local population in multiple ways, by assisting people with direct health issues, employment, education and basic needs. While I help determine how funds are distributed to agencies in a funding area, or Hub, we call “Health,” all of our funding aids in improving our population health outcomes.
How do we impact health?
In our Health funding area, I work with a team of community volunteers to reduce the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences (commonly referred to as ACEs). We fund programs that work to reduce violence, and ones that provide evidence-based care to people who have already experienced psychological trauma.
Evidence shows that people who experience fewer ACEs and less chronic stress, or who have support for recovery from ACEs, will on average have better physical and psychological health down the road. We also support patients who need support managing chronic illnesses like diabetes and high blood pressure. While these are fairly obvious ways of helping improve our population health, other areas of assistance might be more surprising.
What other areas of health are there?
For example, United Way funds several programs that assist people with finding employment and career paths. Having reliable and meaningful work can be tremendously important for people’s health. We also help people access their Basic Needs, including food, housing, transportation and medication.
Without access to these basic life necessities, good health will be out of reach for many people. And through funding early childhood programs, and through our Wraparound Initiative in the Cleveland Municipal School District, we strive to make sure children attain higher levels of education, which is associated with long-term better health outcomes.
Finally, United Way of Greater Cleveland is the lead agency on a pilot initiative with several local partners to aid people with their health-related social needs. As we near the launch of this exciting endeavor, we will have more information to share.
If you would like to learn more about our work in the health arena, please visit our Web page at www.unitedwaycleveland.org/our-work-2/health/.
Advocates for a healthier Ohio and America have grown increasingly worried over the proposed American Health Care Act (AHCA), a plan by the current administration to overhaul much of the American healthcare system. Particularly troubling are enormous cuts to Medicaid, which would roll back a large increase in enrollees, which the previous administration and Medicaid advocate Governor John Kasich brought to Ohio a few years ago.
Health, job implications of Medicaid
Medicaid is a program that is funded by the federal government and administered by the states. The consequences for millions of American’s hopes and dreams could be devastating without federal funding. Medicaid has proven to be one of the most successful investments in the American dream that the country has ever seen. A recent in-depth survey conducted by the State of Ohio helps demonstrate Medicaid’s impact. The state surveyed more than 7,500 Medicaid recipients and found impressive results.
An overwhelming majority of respondents (roughly 75 percent) said that having secure health insurance made it much easier for them to look for and obtain work. This is important to those who worry that Medicaid will lead people to be less incentivized to work.
This should not be surprising given there were significant improvements in health among those who receive Medicaid. According to the survey, direct measurements of patient blood pressure, obesity, and cholesterol, as well as self-reports about mental health was greatly improved. This data showcases an important point that in order to thrive, and move up the economic ladder, having a solid foundation of health is critical.
Changes to Medicaid
However, despite this success, House leadership and the current administration are advocating for a bill that would eliminate vast amounts of funding for Medicaid.
Ohio alone is expected to lose between $19-26 billion dollars from 2019 to 2025, with total losses across the country in excess of $800 billion dollars. With funding reductions such as these, there is simply no way that Medicaid can avoid cutting off millions of people from the benefits of the program.
Approximately 30 percent of our Cuyahoga County friends and neighbors are currently receiving assistance from Medicaid, and this will almost certainly be lower should the AHCA pass. Job losses and investments in new and innovative practices in the region at our local healthcare institutions could also be considerable.
The United Way position
United Way of Greater Cleveland works with many agencies that use the Medicaid program to help people live healthier, more productive lives every single day. Our funding to them combines with Medicaid funding to create new opportunities for health and success for people struggling with disabilities, mental health issues, addictions, layoffs and other challenges.
With cuts to Medicaid, such as those proposed, our community will be less able to help our own people thrive. For this reason, United Way of Greater Cleveland will work with our elected representatives to tell the stories of those negatively affected by potential Medicaid cuts and to advocate for the continued strength of the Medicaid program.
By Ben Miladin, Director of Health, Community Impact, United Way of Greater Cleveland
Infant mortality, defined as the death of a baby before reaching his or her first birthday, occurs at shockingly high rates in our country and in Cuyahoga County – especially in neighborhoods with high concentrations of poverty and racial segregation. For example, while infant mortality rates fell across the state of Ohio in 2014, rates increased for African-Americans, according to findings from the Ohio Department of Health. Also, rates are generally higher in Cuyahoga County than in counties with less concentrated poverty. Rates in the city of Cleveland are higher still at around 13 deaths per 1000 live births. These early deaths could happen for any one of a number of reasons, including accidents, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), premature birth, or other factors. Continue reading “Local programs determined to decrease infant mortality rates”