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International Threats to the Mission of Public Health as Governments Dismantle/Erode the Census
Monday, November 17, 2014: 12:30 PM - 2:00 PM
In 2012, the US House of Representatives voted to prohibit the use of funds for conducting the American Community Survey (ACS). In 2014, the House also approved an amendment that would make ACS voluntary. Further, the US House Fiscal Year 2013 Labor, Health and Human Services Funding Bill included a provision to eliminate all funding for the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality (AHRQ). The ACS (a descendant of the census “long-form”) samples approximately 3 million households nationwide, and the data collected facilitates the distribution of federal assistance, including the Bureau of Economic Analysis’ per capita income series and the Census Bureau’s annual population estimates. AHRQ is one of the primary agencies that monitors and reports on the status of healthcare disparities and inequalities within the US among our nation's minority and ethnic populations. Similar trends to cut or severely hamper census information are occurring abroad. In Canada, response rates to the census dropped substantially (as low as 25% in some communities) after it was made voluntary in 2011, with estimates among poor and under-served now considered to be unreliable by many experts. In the UK, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) is the UK’s national statistical institute and the largest producer of statistics in the country. Between 2008 and 2015, the ONS budget has been cut by 25% in real terms and it must save a further £9m this year. The ONS ran a consultation on what were the most important data to keep and what should be cut. The initial result of this consultation is that they are planning to cut the sample size of the General Lifestyle Reports by one-third. Lifestyle Reports are critical for public health because they include data on smoking, drinking, and long-term conditions. Accurate and timely monitoring and reporting by the census is critically needed to ensure that public health policy-makers and public health practitioners have the evidence needed to address disparities in healthcare and health outcomes among socio-economically vulnerable, traditionally disadvantaged, and racial/ethnic minority populations. Reduced reliability of census data could potentiate further increases in health disparities. The international climate regarding these trends will be discussed by experts from these countries.
Session Objectives: Compare and contrast census data collection among different countries and evaluate proposals to withdraw some aspects of data collection. Evaluate strengths and limitations of various proposals to restrict census data collection—particularly in the light of healthcare reform and the importance of available benchmark community information for hospitals that must comply with the Affordable Healthcare Act. Identify true versus perceived or even fallacious privacy issues in the use and potential misuse of data. Discuss the balance between privacy concerns and public health promotion.
, CBE, Chief Executive of the Royal Society for Public Health
Review and Summary of Discussion
See individual abstracts for presenting author's disclosure statement and author's information.
Organized by: APHA-Special Sessions
Endorsed by: Public Health Nursing
Medical (CME), Health Education (CHES), Nursing (CNE), Public Health (CPH)