National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries in 2006

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, USDL 07-1202, August, 9, 2007

There were 5,703 fatal work injuries in the United States in 2006, down slightly from the revised total of 5,734 fatalities in 2005. The rate of fatal work injuries in 2006 was 3.9 per 100,000 workers, down from a rate of 4.0 per 100,000 in 2005. The numbers reported in this release are preliminary and will be updated in April 2008.
Key findings of the 2006 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries:
• The overall fatal work injury rate for the U.S. in 2006 was lower than the rate for any year since the fatality census was first conducted in 1992.
• Coal mining industry fatalities more than doubled in 2006, due to the Sago Mine disaster and other multiple-fatality coal mining incidents.
• The number of workplace homicides in 2006 was a series low and reflected a decline of over 50 percent from the high reported in 1994.
• Fatalities among workers under 25 years of age fell 9 percent, and the rate of fatal injury among these workers was down significantly.
• The 937 fatal work injuries involving Hispanic or Latino workers in 2006 was a series high, but the overall fatality rate for Hispanic or Latino workers was lower than in 2005.
• Fatalities among self-employed workers declined 11 percent and reached a series low in 2006.
• Aircraft-related fatalities were up 44 percent, led by a number of multiple-fatality events including the August 2006 Comair crash.

Immigrants and Health Care — At the Intersection of Two Broken Systems

Source: Susan Okie, New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 357 no. 6, August 9, 2007

For recent immigrants — especially the estimated 12 million who are here illegally — seeking health care often involves daunting encounters with a fragmented, bewildering, and hostile system. The reason most immigrants come here is to work and earn money; on average, they are younger and healthier than native-born Americans, and they tend to avoid going to the doctor. Many work for employers who don’t offer health insurance, and they can’t afford insurance premiums or medical care. They face language and cultural barriers, and many illegal immigrants fear that visiting a hospital or clinic may draw the attention of immigration officials. Although anti-immigrant sentiment is fueled by the belief that immigrants can obtain federal benefits, 1996 welfare-reform legislation greatly restricted immigrants’ access to programs such as Medicaid, shifting most health care responsibility to state and local governments. The law requires that immigrants wait 5 years after obtaining lawful permanent residency (a “green card”) to apply for federal benefits. In response, some states and localities — for instance, Illinois, New York, the District of Columbia, and certain California counties — have used their own funds to expand health insurance coverage even for undocumented immigrant children and pregnant women with low incomes. Other states, however, such as Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, and Virginia, have passed laws making it even more difficult for noncitizens to gain access to health services.
See also:
Terra Firma — A Journey from Migrant Farm Labor to Neurosurgery

Rite of Passage? Why Young Adults Become Uninsured and How New Policies Can Help

Source: Sara R. Collins, Cathy Schoen, Jennifer L. Kriss, Michelle M. Doty, and Bisundev Mahato, The Commonwealth Fund, Vol. 26, August 8, 2007

From press release:
Since 2003, 16 states have enacted legislation requiring insurance companies to provide health insurance coverage to dependent young adults on their parents’ health plans beyond age 18 or 19, according to a new report from The Commonwealth Fund. While Utah has had such a law since 1994, recent legislative activity reflects states’ rising concern about the steady loss of coverage among young adults under the age of 30.

Because a majority of uninsured young adults have low incomes, extending eligibility for Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) beyond age 18 would be an important policy solution to cover this group, the authors say. The SCHIP reauthorization bill recently passed in the House of Representatives would allow states to extend coverage up to age 25. Currently, Medicaid and SCHIP coverage for children typically ends at age 19.

The report, Rite of Passage? Why Young Adults Become Uninsured and How New Policies Can Help, finds that 13.3 million young adults ages 19 to 29 were uninsured in 2005, up from 12.9 million in 2004. Young adults also continue to represent the largest age group without health insurance. Despite comprising only 17 percent of the under-65 population they account for 30 percent of the uninsured in that group. Two-fifths (41%) of uninsured young adults ages 19–29 are in families below the poverty level, and 72 percent have incomes below twice the poverty level).
See also:
Issue Brief
Chartpack
Chartpack PowerPoint

Interim Pre-pandemic Planning Guidance: Community Strategy for Pandemic Influenza Mitigation in the United States—Early, Targeted, Layered Use of Nonpharmaceutical Interventions

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, CS108488, February 2007

From press release:
Community Measures Prevent Deaths During Pandemic, New Study Finds –
School closures and other community strategies designed to reduce the possibility of spreading disease between people during an epidemic can save lives, particularly when the measures are used in combination and implemented soon after an outbreak begins in a community, according to a new study based on public records from the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic.

The findings (subscription required), which are published in the Aug. 8 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, provide vital clues to help public officials planning for the next influenza pandemic and highlight the importance of community strategies. These strategies are particularly important because the intervention most likely to provide the best protection against pandemic influenza — a vaccine — is unlikely to be available at the outset of a pandemic. Community strategies that delay or reduce the impact of a pandemic (also called non-pharmaceutical interventions) may help reduce the spread of disease until a vaccine that is well-matched to the virus is available.

Scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the University of Michigan Medical School′s Center for the History of Medicine completed an exhaustive review of public records such as health department reports, U.S. Census mortality data and newspaper archives.
See also:
Early Warning Infectious Disease Program (EWIDS)
Pandemic Planning Update IV
Department of Health and Human Services’ Pandemic Flu Website

The Problems with Property Tax Revenue Caps

Source: Karen Lyons and Iris J. Lav, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, June 21, 2007

Several states (Connecticut, Florida, Minnesota, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Texas) have recently considered imposing severe caps on property tax revenue. These caps restrict the amount that property tax revenue can increase from year to year to a low fixed percentage, a formula based on the inflation rate, or some combination of the two.

While such caps may hold down property taxes, they are likely to impair local governments’ ability to provide education, public safety, and other services residents demand and need. They also are likely to make the local revenue system more regressive.

Property tax caps do nothing to change the main drivers behind higher property taxes. They cannot slow the increase in the cost of health care or fuel, for example, which reflects forces outside of the control of local officials. Nor do they change the demand for local public services, such as quality K-12 education, public safety, and good roads.

The Administration’s Dubious Claims about the Emerging Children’s Health Insurance Legislation: Myth and Reality

Source: Robert Greenstein, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, July 20, 2007

Congress is considering legislation to reauthorize the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), a successful federal health program enjoying bipartisan support that, together with Medicaid, has reduced the proportion and the number of low-income children who are insured by about one third since 1997. On July 19, the Senate Finance Committee approved bipartisan legislation by a 17-4 vote, and two House committees are expected to act shortly thereafter.

The Bush Administration, however, is characterizing the children’s health insurance legislation being developed in Congress as a big-government approach that would pave the way for socialized medicine, do little for low-income children, and primarily shift people with good incomes from private health care coverage to government health insurance at taxpayers’ expense.

Are You Really Covered? Why 4 in 10 Americans Can’t Depend on Their Health Insurance

Source: Consumer Reports, Vol. 72 no. 9, September 2007

You might think you don’t have to worry about paying for medical care if you have health insurance. But you would be wrong. From escalating medical debt to postponed retirement, our exclusive national survey of working-age adults shows the depth of jitters even for those lucky enough to have insurance through their jobs or families.

This report, the first in a series, details how the situation has gotten worse over the past 15 years, since the country last engaged in a full-throated debate about health care. Our experts sifted through the complex issues and talked to people in our survey who said they would be willing to share their stories. Future installments will look at how the health-care system perpetuates unneeded treatments and medications, and will examine the trouble awaiting people who have to go out and find insurance on their own.

See Also:
+Rating the Health Plans: 37,000 Readers Pick the Best HMOs & PPOs
+Plan Cost and Coverage Worksheet

New Orleans Unions Plant Seeds for Growth with First Preapprentice Training Program

Source: Angelle Bergeron, Engineering News Record, Vol. 259, no. 4, July 30, 2007
(subscription required)

Hoping to boost its visibility in an open shop stronghold and bolster numbers and skill levels of a badly needed craft workforce, the AFL-CIO’s Building and Construction Trades Dept. is bringing its message to the Hurricane Katrina recovery zone through a fast-track training and job placement center that will feed recruits to union apprentice programs for the first time.

EEOC Releases Guidance on “Caregiver” Discrimination

Source: Maureen Minehan, Employment Alert, Vol. 24, no. 15, July 19, 2007

New guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) means employers must be extra cautious when it comes to employees with care giving responsibilities. While no federal law specifically bans discrimination against caregivers, the EEOC says Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) extend protections to individuals caring for children, parents and others.

Separating Fact from Fiction about Workplace Violence

Source: John J. Matchulat, Employee Relations Law Journal, Vol. 33, no. 2, Autumn 2007

Consultants, attorneys, and others have publicized some alarming information concerning the extent of violence in the nation’s workplaces. Yet, there is often a vast disparity in the statistics covering seemingly identical types of violence, depending on the author and his or her sources of data. Consequently, observations and conclusions as to the nature and extent of workplace violence vary significantly. Additionally, some generalized statements made about workplace violence, not based on statistical data, convey somewhat confusing and misleading conclusions. This article reconciles the varying statistical information as well as provides insight into whether some commonly-held views about workplace violence are fact, fiction, or possess elements of both.