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The Post-Election Funding Landscape

Emily J. Holubowich, Senior Vice President at CRD Associates, is NAPHSIS's Washington representative and leads our advocacy efforts in the nation's capital. On November 6th, Americans elected Donald J. Trump to be the 45th President of the United States, and in January he and Congress will begin working on their priorities, unhindered by a split government. The change in leadership will alter the landscape for investments in vital records data. However, as budget cuts loom, new initiatives of the forthcoming Administration may leave room for completing the modernization of electronic death reporting systems in states that have yet to adopt the technology. The first clear impact of the electi

Vital Records Role in Restoring Voters Trust

By Anthony Stout, Manager of EVVE Products & Services for NAPHSIS The 2016 general election is just one week away, and if you have been following the presidential campaign coverage over the last few weeks, you likely have heard Donald Trump's allegations that this year's election is "rigged." The presidential nominee has pointed to several theories on how his opposition may affect the outcome of the election—individuals voting in multiple states or multiple times in the same state. NAPHSIS is in no position to validate these claims, but one that does hold water is the number of deceased Americans who remain on voter registration rosters despite their obvious inability to cast a ballot. Curre

Holding Pattern for NCHS

Emily J. Holubowich, Senior Vice President at CRD Associates, is NAPHSIS's Washington representative and leads our advocacy efforts in the nation's capital. Happy New Fiscal Year! Before leaving town to campaign, late last week lawmakers passed a continuing resolution to keep the government open until December 9—narrowly avoiding a government shutdown. That means the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) and other federal agencies will function on autopilot long past the general election in November. Until then, NCHS remains in a holding pattern. To review, earlier this summer the House and Senate Appropriations Committees approved spending bills for the Department of Health and Human

Timeliness and Quality of Death Data Essential for Public Health

Dr. Potrzebowski is the Executive Director of NAPHSIS. Headlines of recent weeks have showcased the value of vital statistics in monitoring the public's health and formulating policies to help improve it. Specifically, the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) made news recently when it released new 2015 data, collected and reported by the vital records jurisdictions, suggesting that deaths linked to drug overdoses continue to trend upward. If policymakers are to successfully address the nationwide, opioid epidemic they must first understand the scope of the problem. Vital statistics provide the baseline data foundational to any effective solution. However, data are only relevant if t

Mixed Bag for NCHS, Vital Records Funding (…Again)

Emily J. Holubowich, MPP, Senior Vice President, Cavarocchi Ruscio Dennis Associates Congress has left our nation's capital for seven weeks of conventions and campaigning, but not before a flurry of activity on the appropriations front. Both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees have approved spending legislation for the Department of Health and Human Services, and within it, the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). Once again, it's a mixed bag for vital statistics funding. To review, in February the President requested (see pages 270-278, here) flat funding of $160.4 million to maintain NCHS's capacity to support ongoing health and health care surveys, and to support the N

PRAMS for Dads

In the United States, approximately 28 million men aged 15-44 are fathers, nearly three-quarters (73%) of whom live with their children.[1] Over the past decades, our understanding of the roles and contributions of fathers to families has improved: we now know paternal involvement with children is strongly associated with better prenatal and postnatal maternal health, and improved developmental outcomes for children.[2] However, there has been limited research on how fatherhood impacts the health and wellbeing of the men themselves, especially around the time of the transition into fatherhood. While levels of father involvement in families have continued to increase overall since the 1960s,[

Improving Cause of Death Reporting: A National Approach

Gretchen Van Wye, Assistant Commissioner, Bureau of Vital Statistics, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Information about what causes death, when it occurs, and to whom certain causes of death occur more often provides the foundation of our country's understanding of the health conditions that impact Americans. We know that as Vital Records and Statistics Offices, and research documents it, as well. Cause of death is one of the oldest, most representative, and most widely used sources of public health data. Even though completing cause of death on death certificates is a requirement of physicians, there is no means to ensure that the principles of completing cause of deat

Improving Quality of Cause of Death

For the past few years, NAPHSIS has advocated for funding for the Vital Statistics Cooperative Program, which is used to generate national vital statistics at the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). We meet with Congressional offices and discuss the importance of more, better, faster data to inform public health policy and the ways in which sustained funding will help enable us to meet those goals. This year, NAPHSIS has asked federal lawmakers to provide $5 million for NCHS to fund states to train medical certifiers (primarily physicians, coroners, and medical examiners) in reporting cause and manner of death and to modernize reporting systems, as many of the early adopters of the

Fighting for a 21st Century Vital Statistics System

For nearly a decade, NAPHSIS has worked alongside our partners in the data user community to convince lawmakers of the need to modernize the vital statistics system. Despite the overall fiscal and political toxicity in Washington, lawmakers from both parties have recognized the value of more, better, and faster data for both public health and administrative purposes. The budget of the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) has slowly and steadily increased, and in each year, we've seen Congress prioritize funding for the vital statistics infrastructure. Most recently, Congress appropriated $5 million to help NCHS help jurisdictions continue to modernize the National Vital Statistics Sy

STEVE v2 Development Awarded to UberOps

Over the past two weeks, a virtual review committee read eight proposals in response to NAPHSIS' request for solutions that will replace the current state and territorial data exchange system, STEVE. The proposals were varied in their approaches to STEVE, but all of them described systems with minimal to no installation at the local level. Each of them detailed the security measures they would install and the federal data standards they to which they would adhere. In the end, the review committee and the NAPHSIS Board of Directors selected the UberOps solution. UberOps, while new to NAPHSIS, is not new to public health. Founded in 2004, UberOps is a leading provider of healthcare IT ser

NAPHSIS Launches Request for Proposals - STEVE 2

The National Association for Public Health Statistics and Information Systems (NAPHSIS) is seeking competitive bids from consulting firms and/or software vendors to develop and deliver a software solution to replace the current State and Territorial Exchange of Vital Events (STEVE) software application. Several reference and resource documents are available below. Please feel free to forward and share with other companies and/or colleagues. Click here for the RFP Click here for the IJE File Layouts Click here for the STEVE TM User's Manual Click here to hear/view the Bidders Conference Webinar which was held on Tuesday, January 12th. Questions, answers and clarifications given during the B

Helping Vital Records Do Better - Perspectives from Continual Impact, LLC

NAPHSIS and the vital records jurisdictions are on a mission to provide "more, better, and faster" data to improve public health and prevent waste, fraud, and abuse. North Carolina and Minnesota state vital records offices and Continual Impact, L.L.C. have worked on improving efficiencies and enhancing processes by providing valuable health information used to plan and evaluate public health programs and measure the health of our populace. In this interview with NAPHSIS's Patricia Potrzebowski and Continual Impact's Pam Vecellio & Chris Bujak, we delve deeper into what quality improvement is and how it is working to improve vital records. NAPHSIS: What is continual quality improvement? Conti

Vital Statistics in the Headlines

Vital statistics on births and deaths serve an integral role in understanding public health, as exemplified by headlines in major print and television media outlets recently. Nobel Prize winning economist Angus Deaton and his wife, Anne Case discovered a disturbing trend using mortality data collected by vital records jurisdictions and provided to the National Center for Health Statistics: the death rates of middle-aged, white Americans are climbing, even as death rates in other racial and age groups remain stagnant or on the decline. Further, they discovered that the death rates among middle-aged, white men with a high school education or less are actually increasing more than the death rat

Government Shutdown Averted, For Now…

Emily and Tiffany serve as NAPHSIS' government relations representatives in Washington, DC. This week, Congress avoided a government shutdown that just last week seemed unavoidable. Late Wednesday afternoon, Congress passed a "clean" continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government running through December 11 at essentially current funding levels. Whether or not lawmakers can avoid another shutdown come December 12 is much more uncertain now with evolving dynamics surrounding House leadership. The window to pass a clean CR this time around was opened by Speaker John Boehner, who unexpectedly announced his resignation on Friday, September 25. His decision is assumed to have been motivated by

“Stateline” Highlights State Efforts to Improve Death Data Quality

Vital records jurisdictions have made significant progress in improving the timeliness and quality of vital statistics through the implementation of electronic systems. For example, the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) has completed funding of remaining jurisdictions seeking support for the development and implementation of electronic birth registration systems (EBRS), and the last remaining states are expected to adopt the 2003 Standard Certificate of Birth, which is a much more robust source of public health data than the older 1989 certificate, by the end of 2015. For death registration, 45 jurisdictions have implemented electronic death registration systems (EDRS) to date. Th

Vital Statistics: Vital for Research

Data are the backbone of research, and vital statistics are one of the oldest, most fundamental sources of information on health. Vital statistics collected via birth and death certificates enable us to monitor prevalence of disease and overall health status, develop programs to improve public health, and evaluate the effectiveness of those interventions. Vital statistics tell us what we know about life expectancy, teenage pregnancy, racial and socioeconomic disparities in infant mortality, and pregnancy-related deaths. These data help measure the impact of health insurance, access to care, and prenatal care on birth outcomes; and monitor deaths due to injury and violence, infectious disease

Vital Statistics Essential for Effective State Programs to Reduce Infant Deaths

One of America's most embarrassing health statistics is the country's abysmal infant mortality rate, one of the most fundamental indicators of a nation's health. In fact, the United States ranks at the bottom of all industrialized countries with more than six babies per 1,000 born dying before their first birthday. In comparison, Finland and Japan have just more than two per 1,000 babies dying before their first birthday. To address this public health challenge, an initiative at the National Institute for Child Health Quality (NICHQ) brings together federal, state and local leaders, public and private agencies, professionals and communities to raise awareness and promote safe habits to preve

Mixed Bag for NCHS, Vital Records Funding

Emily J. Holubowich, MPP, Senior Vice President, Cavarocchi Ruscio Dennis Associates As we've written many times before, funding for Electronic Death Registration Systems (EDRS) has become almost a cause célèbre in Washington as means to more, better, faster death data for both public health and fraud prevention purposes. The President in February once again requested $5 million in funding for the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) to support jurisdictions in implementing EDRS nationwide (read more here). Congress seems to be listening, with heightened attention on the deficiencies in the Social Security Administration's (SSA) Public Death Master File (DMF) and the recognition that

I See Dead People…

On June 11, the Washington Post's "Wonkblog" ran an online article about The Social Security Administration (SSA) mistakenly declaring about 12,000 U.S. citizens dead every year (cue photo of zombies). In it, the blogger Ana Swanson notes: By entering one number into the system incorrectly, a Social Security employee can bring your whole world crashing down, as the blog Priceonomics writes in a new post on the subject. People who have been mistakenly declared dead may be unable to apply for jobs, access bank accounts or credit cards, or rent or buy new homes. Their disability, Medicare or Medicaid benefits may cease. Their pension plan and insurance may be terminated. They may be left withou

Death Data 2.0

During the last four years, I've spent much of my time in Washington educating partners across the federal government and the private sector about the roles and responsibilities of the vital records jurisdictions and the electronic systems that facilitate more, better, and faster death data to prevent fraud, identity theft, and improper payments. On May 29, I had the unique opportunity to address the Social Security Advisory Board—a seven-member bipartisan Board that advises the President, the Congress, and the Social Security Commissioner—and share more information about our progress in modernizing the vital statistics infrastructure and our vision for death data access via Electronic Verif

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