Although old habits are difficult to change, we will have to get used to the fact that tourist traffic in family accommodation is no longer tied exclusively to the summer months, but the business of this segment of the accommodation offer has been extended to the whole year. In Zagreb, Dubrovnik, Rijeka, Split, Pula, Osijek, Vukovar, Županja, Varaždin and lately more and more in Šibenik, Zadar and other larger cities and places on traffic routes, family accommodation is sought throughout the year, so more and more hosts include their capacities. in a year-round offer.In fact, some hosts, even in rural areas such as Gorski Kotar, Istria, Plitvice, Dalmatian hinterland, achieve occupancy of over 150 days. Family accommodation records an increase in the number of arrivals and overnight stays throughout the year. Thus, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics, in the first quarter of 2016, the largest increase in tourist traffic among all types of accommodation was realized in family accommodation, + 21,6% compared to 2015. In total, for the first six months of 2016, family accommodation recorded 5 million tourist overnight stays or even 16,6% more than in the first six months of 2015. Thus, in the total results for the first six months of last year, family accommodation participates with 30% in the total traffic structure. The results for the first nine months of 2016 show that every second night was spent in family accommodation (35 million overnight stays, + 16%).Although we have not yet published official data from the Central Bureau of Statistics for the last quarter of last year, we know that this positive trend in family accommodation continued until the end of the year. 2017 started well, the features that were characteristic in 2016 continue. Minor oscillations in traffic will occur in May due to the holiday schedule in most major emitting countries, namely this year all major holidays after late Easter are moving to June.Photo: HGKDue to the shift of the ski season until Easter, ie mid-April, the last few years and the arrival of audiences using family accommodation (guests who are active on vacation, walking, cycling…) are moving from the May Day holidays and weekends following other holidays to the end of the school year at the end of June when the summer school holidays begin. In the pre-season, several arrivals in family accommodation were recorded in larger cities and Istria and Kvarner (cities due to airlines and tours, Istria and Kvarner due to arrivals from the North Adriatic to closer destinations such as Slovenia, Austria, Italy, Hungary, Bavaria).The announcements are good, in fact, some portals, such as booking.com, are recording an increase in reservations by as much as 60% compared to the same period last year. This is explained by the desire of guests to secure their stay on time due to the increased demand for family accommodation in Croatia. Digital platforms definitely “lead the game”, even when traditional agencies contract accommodation, and that accommodation is marketed by agencies through digital platforms.Some hosts even in rural areas such as Gorski kotar, Istria, Plitvice, Dalmatian hinterland achieve occupancy for over 150 daysDemand for a particular type of accommodation depends on the season and destination. For short stays in cities, B&B and apartments are the most sought after, in rural areas rural holiday homes are most sought after, in bathing destinations apartments are most sought after… but “every commodity has its buyer” so in periods of higher demand everything is sought after full ”.At the beginning of this year, the HGK family tourism community became a full member of EHHAe (European Holiday Home Association), which opens new opportunities for the promotion of Croatian family accommodation. EHHA represents 20 million beds in households in the countries of the European Union, brings together in addition to accommodation owners and property managers as well as digital intermediaries. At a recent round table at the largest tourist exchange ITB in Berlin, Croatian family accommodation organized through the Community at the Croatian Chamber of Commerce was presented as an example of good practice in the European Union. An example of legislation, the way of doing business and keeping records of tourist traffic and the payment of taxes is an example of large cities in the European Union that are facing the expansion of uncontrolled tourist traffic in residential areas.Photo: Villa Gašparini owners Nataša Ravnić Gašparini was awarded by the director of the HGK Tourism Sector Leila Krešić-Jurić and the president of the HGK Family Tourism Association Nedjeljko PinezićFamily accommodation is a form of accommodation service provided by the household and in which the whole family participates. This type of family micro-entrepreneurship has proven to be combined with other activities such as agriculture as the best way to tie the family to their home, their place of residence. It is also the strongest measure of pro-population policy that has a positive effect on the demography of endangered areas, and almost all areas of the Republic of Croatia are “suffering” from depopulation. Currently, the Family Tourism Association of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce represents just over 80.000 households with 500.000 permanent beds. Family accommodation has experienced a 25% increase in the number of households and capacity in the last ten years. Thanks to this activity, which is so far the only one that puts private property in the function of the economy, Croatia generates an annual income of 2 billion Euros (from all services related to guests staying in family accommodation). This corresponds to the creation of 170.000 jobs. The state budget and the system of tourist boards collect 50 million Euros of sojourn tax and income tax annually through the turnover in this private property.Family accommodation has its own National Development Strategy, ie the National Family Accommodation Improvement Program implemented by the Family Tourism Association of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce in cooperation with the Ministry of Tourism and the Croatian National Tourist Board. The first professional organization of family accommodation was founded 20 years ago, in 1997 at the Rijeka County Chamber, and the National Family Tourism Association was founded at the Croatian Chamber of Commerce in 2010. In the past six years, it has become the largest and most active professional organization in the country, bringing together more than 5.000 hosts annually through one national and more than ten regional Family Accommodation Forums. In the past three years, more than 10.000 participants have passed through the FOS education system and the FOS concept has stimulated many similar events at the local level, so this is a unique case of communication and education of citizens – micro-entrepreneurs in Europe.Family accommodation in Croatia has the best average reviews in Europe and is among the 10 best nations in the world according to Booking.com guest ratings.Nedo Pinezić, President of the Family Tourism Association of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce
Email Share For most people, there never seems to be enough time in the day to complete everything we would like to do. This becomes even more difficult when we become parents. Parents are often forced to make many choices to manage their time every day. In the midst of their busy lives, parents may wonder what the most efficient ways to spend their time are. Should I do the laundry now or later? Should I exercise or sleep in this morning?One team of researchers sought out to explore the best ways that busy working mothers can spend their time. “Working mothers appear to be an important population in deed of greater research attention as they report serious time constraints, poorer sleep satisfaction, and worse mental health,” the authors pointed out in their study, which was published in Mental Health and Physical Activity.Specifically, the researchers compared the benefits of sleep to the benefits of exercise for working mothers. Pinterest LinkedIn Share on Twitter Share on Facebook In this study, mothers were asked to keep daily diaries for two weeks, tracking their daily sleep and exercise habits, as well as their positive and negative moods. The mothers also tracked their sleep satisfaction and exercise intensity to see whether this would have any impact on their daily mood.The authors found that sleep satisfaction was related to participants’ moods—participants who experienced higher sleep satisfaction reported a more positive daily mood. Daily exercise also was linked to a more positive mood, and this was true regardless of the intensity of exercise.While both sleep and exercise helped improve the mothers’ daily moods, exercise was more beneficial than sleep was. These findings offer further support for the benefits of exercise on individuals’ mood. Even with various desires competing for mothers’ time, exercise still had a strong benefit.Is it possible that exercising simply helped the participants sleep better at night? This is unlikely, according to the study’s findings. There was no association between the intensity of physical activity and participants’ sleep satisfaction the following night.Although this research found that exercise helped boost participants’ mood more than sleep did, the authors said it is important to note that sleep is very important for maintaining a positive daily mood. A lack of regular exercise and sleep can be harmful to your mental and physical health.As the authors suggested, a more positive mood can have important impacts on individuals’ physical and mental health. The authors concluded that, “given that working mothers are a time-pressed population, short and intense physical activity bouts might be a good option.”
Email Share on Facebook LinkedIn To address this question, the researchers conducted a series of experiments in which the study’s subjects listened to speech as well as to other types of “environmental” sounds that ranged from fireworks to ping pong to dogs barking.To ensure that the subjects were responding to speech sounds rather than to a language that was already familiar to them, the researchers used recorded German-language words–which none of the subjects understood–rather than English ones. In this way, the method aimed to solely measure the brain’s detection of speech, which involves listening and speaking, rather than language, which involves constructing and understanding sentences.To further disguise the origins of both the speech and environmental sounds, the researchers developed a series of audio “quilts”–sound segments, ranging from 30 to 900 milliseconds, in which words or natural sounds were chopped up and reordered. With this method, the researchers could help ensure that the study’s subjects were responding only to audio cues rather than guessing their origins–and thus possibly activating parts of the brain not relevant to sound detection.During these procedures, the researchers gauged subjects’ neurological responses–in multiple parts of the brain–using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).The results showed expected activity in response to all types of sounds in the temporal lobe’s auditory cortex. However, moving further down in this region–to the STS–the results showed activity only in detecting speech sounds, suggesting that this part of the brain is reserved for spotting the spoken word. Share on Twitter Share A team of New York University neuroscientists has identified a part of the brain exclusively devoted to processing speech. Its findings point to the superior temporal sulcus (STS), located in the temporal lobe, and help settle a long-standing debate about role-specific neurological functions.“We now know there is at least one part of the brain that specializes in the processing of speech and doesn’t have a role in handling other sounds,” explains David Poeppel, the paper’s senior author, a professor in NYU’s Department of Psychology and Center for Neural Science.The study, which appears in the journal Nature Neuroscience, sought to address a decades-old uncertainty–and dispute–in neural science: are there certain regions of the brain exclusively dedicated to managing speech, thereby ignoring other sounds, such as music or animal noises? Pinterest
Share on Facebook Email Share on Twitter Pinterest LinkedIn Share New UBC research finds that many online resources for preventing Alzheimer’s disease are problematic and could be steering people in the wrong direction.In a survey of online articles about preventing Alzheimer’s disease, UBC researchers found many websites offered poor advice and one in five promoted products for sale–a clear conflict of interest.“The quality of online information about preventing Alzheimer’s disease ranges,” said Julie Robillard, assistant professor of neurology at UBC with the Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health and the National Core for Neuroethics. “The few websites offering high-quality information can be hard to distinguish from the many low-quality websites offering information that can be potentially harmful.” Today, 564,000 Canadians are living with dementia but the number is expected to grow to nearly one million in the next 15 years as the population ages. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia but there is a lot of uncertainty about what causes the disease and how to protect yourself from it. Previous research has shown that about 80 per cent of people, and half of older adults, turn to the Internet for health information.Robillard and undergraduate student Tanya Feng examined almost 300 online articles about preventing Alzheimer’s disease. They found websites with high-quality information often provided high-level advice suggesting individuals consider lifestyle modifications like managing their diabetes and exercising regularly.The researchers identified a few common red flags for low-quality information, such as websites recommending products for sale alongside the content. They found this type of conflict of interest in one in five websites. Other signs of low-quality information included websites with very specific recommendations and nutritional information.“Many red flags were not specific to what they were saying, but rather how they were saying it,” said Feng. “For example, using strong language like ‘cure’ or ‘guarantee’, promoting their own products, and relying on anecdotal evidence instead of empirical research is suggestive of poor-quality information in online dementia information.”The researchers say this type of information can also be costly with people sinking money into products with little or no scientific evidence to show that they are effective. More concerning, however, is that the advice can cause anxiety and may impact the physician-patient relationship. Patients may sometimes feel they cannot trust their physician if they disagree with the recommendations or patients may not inform their physicians that they have changed their daily habits.The researchers are developing a tool called QUEST, a simple test of six questions that anyone can use to help people recognize high-quality information online.The study was published today in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Share on Facebook Email Share LinkedIn Pinterest Having a happy spouse may be related to better health, at least among middle-aged and older adults, according to a new study published by the American Psychological Association.In a nationally representative study of 1,981 middle-age heterosexual couples, researchers found that people with happy spouses were much more likely to report better health over time. This occurred above and beyond the person’s own happiness, according to the study, published in the APA journal Health Psychology.“This finding significantly broadens assumptions about the relationship between happiness and health, suggesting a unique social link,” said William Chopik, PhD, an assistant professor of psychology at Michigan State University and principal investigator of the study. “Simply having a happy partner may enhance health as much as striving to be happy oneself.” Share on Twitter Previous research suggests happy people are generally healthy people, but Chopik wanted to take it one step further by exploring the health effects of interpersonal relationships. He said there are at least three potential reasons why having a happy partner might enhance a person’s health, irrespective of one’s own happiness:• Happy partners likely provide stronger social support, such as caretaking, as compared to unhappy partners who are more likely to be focused on their own stressors.• Happy partners may get unhappy people involved with activities and environments that promote good health, such as maintaining regular sleep cycles, eating nutritious food and exercising.• Being with a happy partner should make a person’s life easier even if not explicitly happier.“Simply knowing that one’s partner is satisfied with his or her individual circumstances may temper a person’s need to seek self-destructive outlets, such as drinking or drugs, and may more generally offer contentment in ways that afford health benefits down the road,” Chopik said.The study examined the survey information of couples age 50 to 94, including happiness, self-rated health and physical activity over a six-year period. The results showed no difference between husbands and wives in the study.Eighty-four percent were white, 8 percent were African-American, and 6 percent were Hispanic. Participants answered questions about their health, including level of physical impairment, chronic illnesses and level of physical activity, as well as any concerns they had regarding their spouse’s health. Participants rated their own happiness and life satisfaction.
Share New research suggests that the effect of divorce is greatest among more advantaged children. The study, which was published in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences, found that children whose schooling is most affected are those whose parents’ are not statistically likely to divorce.Previous research has indicated that children whose parents divorce are less likely to complete high school and to attend and complete college. However, the researchers wanted to examine whether the impact of divorce would be worse for children in families that expect marital stability and are unprepared for disruption.“We are generally interested in the impact of disruptive events on children, and whether such events are more or less disruptive for some individuals. If some families anticipate disruption and disadvantage, we questioned how disruptive any particular event may be for those individuals,” explained study author Jennie E. Brand, a professor of sociology and statistics at UCLA. Share on Twitter Pinterest Share on Facebook LinkedIn Email For their study, the researchers examined data on the family and socioeconomic backgrounds of 11,512 children and 4,931 mothers from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth and the National Longitudinal Survey Child Mother File, a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics program that began in 1979 and has continued to follow respondents ever since.Mothers who were most likely to get divorced were women who themselves grew up in single-parent families, who had inflexible work hours, who had depressive symptoms, and who had low self-esteem. High levels of education and household income, on the other hand, generally reduced the odds of divorce.Children in families with a low likelihood of divorce tended to have higher rates of educational attainment overall. But their educational attainment was significantly impacted by divorce.“Parental divorce may trigger an acute sense of deprivation among these relatively advantaged children, whose peers tend to be likewise advantaged and for whom family instability is uncommon and comes as a shock,” the researchers wrote in their study.Among children families with a high likelihood of divorce, on the other hand, there was virtually no impact on their likelihood to graduate from high school or college if their parents’ marriage ended.“First, we argue that while parental divorce is generally associated with unfavorable outcomes for children, it does not follow that every divorce is equally bad for the children it affected. In fact, we find no effect for children who are likely to experience a parental divorce,” Brand told PsyPost. “We also contend that social discourse and policy aimed at promoting marital stability among disadvantaged families, for whom unfortunate events are common, is misguided.”The study — like all research — includes some limitations. Many factors contribute to divorce and it is difficult for researchers to account for all of them.“The families for whom we observe significant effects of parental divorce on children’s education may be a more selective group. In other words, these families may have had some factors that we do not observe impact both whether or not they divorce and children’s education. If so, we may overstate the impact of divorce for those children,” Brand said.The study, “Parental divorce is not uniformly disruptive to children’s educational attainment“, was authored by Jennie E. Brand, Ravaris Moore, Xi Song, and Yu Xie.
Jul 8, 2010WHO official rates global pandemic responsePublic health officials generally responded well to H1N1 pandemic flu but can improve in several areas, according to the WHO’s European regional director, Zsuzsanna Jakab. She said officials “contained” the pandemic through “intensive activity” but need to improve in three areas: flexibility to scale activity to pandemic severity, integrated communication, and better WHO coordination of antiviral and vaccine efforts. She also said the WHO may declare a post-pandemic phase this month.http://www.euractiv.com/en/health/who-europe-chief-flu-pandemic-was-handled-well-interview-496104Jul 8 EurActiv interviewStudy finds antivirals help reduce transmissionA recent study found that households using antiviral drugs for pandemic flu lowered overall transmission rates even though levels of adult-to-child transmission remained relatively high. Dutch researchers studied 47 households early in the pandemic whose index case (the first sick member) and all household contacts took oseltamivir within 24 hours after detection of the index case. Though they found a low secondary attack rate (0.075), the attack rate from an adult to a child under 12 was 0.35.http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0011442Jul 7 PLoS ONE studyFlu continues to rise in New ZealandFlu activity in New Zealand continues to increase but is at the level usually seen this time of year and is still below baseline, the country’s Ministry of Health (MOH) reported today. Weekly general practice visits for flu-like illness were 27.5 patients per 100,000 population; baseline is 50. Of 17 viruses typed, 13 were pandemic H1N1, 3 influenza A not subtyped (likely pandemic H1N1), and 1 influenza B. The country has had 4 H1N1 patients treated in intensive care this year and 1 death.http://www.surv.esr.cri.nz/PDF_surveillance/Virology/FluWeekRpt/2010/FluWeekRpt201026.pdfJul 8 New Zealand MOH report
May 3, 2011 (CIDRAP News) – Thousands of hospitals and other healthcare facilities that participate in Medicare and Medicaid would be required to offer flu vaccination to all patients during flu season under a new federal proposal.The Centers for Medicare & Medcaid Services (CMS) unveiled the proposal Apr 29, saying it would increase access to flu vaccine, reduce flu-related sickness and deaths, and help reduce healthcare disparities. The proposal would affect about 16,700 hospitals, rural health clinics, Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), and kidney dialysis centers, according to a draft Federal Register notice.”Today’s proposed rule will expand Medicare beneficiaries’ options for where to receive a flu shot during flu season,” CMS Administrator Donald M. Berwick, MD, said in a news release. “The new requirements would make flu shots available in more of the health care facilities that Medicare beneficiaries are most likely to visit, including hospitals and rural health clinics.”Under the plan, all patients would be offered a flu shot between Sep 1 and the end of February, unless vaccination is medically contraindicated. Patients could decline the shot. The facilities would also be required to offer the shots during a flu pandemic.CMS estimates that under the rule, the total proportion of patients in affected facilities who ultimately get a flu shot each season could increase from the current 40%—the approximate coverage level for the general population—to about 60%. The agency estimates that the rule could lead to the vaccination of about 18.2 million patients in the affected facilities, but says that without the proposed rule, some of these would get a flu shot elsewhere.CMS will take comments for 60 days after its proposal is published in the Federal Register. The proposal says the agency’s aim is to implement the requirement by this coming fall, in time for the 2011-12 flu season.The types of facilities to be covered by the requirement and their estimated numbers are:5,100 hospitals, including short-term acute care, psychiatric, rehabilitation, long-term care, children’s, and cancer hospitals1,300 Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs)—generally small, isolated rural hospitals that receive cost-based reimbursement to prevent them from closing3,800 rural health clinics1,100 FQHCs—clinics that serve an underserved area or population and offer a sliding fee scale5,400 end-stage renal disease (dialysis) centersThe proposal notes that nursing homes have been required to offer flu vaccine to their residents since October 2005. In recent years, about 91% of nursing home patients have been vaccinated, it says.CMS believes that many facilities that would be covered by the rule already offer annual flu shots, but they would need to develop and implement appropriate policies and procedures, the agency said.The agency estimates the costs associated with the requirement at about $330 million a year, which would be offset by estimated quantifiable benefits worth roughly $830 million a year, including a $710 million reduction in medical costs and $120 million worth of time savings for patients.The American Hospital Association (AHA) is currently reviewing the CMS proposal, an AHA official told CIDRAP News today.”We are still reviewing it but this is something that could be difficult to implement and we are going to reach out to our members to get their input,” Marie Watteau, the AHA’s director of media relations, commented.She said she did not have any information on what proportion of hospitals may already have a policy of offering flu shots to all patients.See also: CMS draft Federal Register noticeApr 29 CMS news release
Nov 6, 2012 (CIDRAP News) – A recent editorial calling for requiring influenza shots in healthcare workers (HCWs) has stirred debate in the pages of the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), with two groups of researchers questioning the quality of the evidence that the vaccinations protect patients.Last week CMAJ published an editorial endorsing a flu-shot requirement for HCWs, with exemptions granted only for medical contraindications or “deeply held religious or philosophical convictions.” Ken Flegel, MDCM, MSc, senior associate editor of the journal, wrote that high rates of HCW vaccination reduce patient mortality and save money.”Our patients’ lives depend on this change,” he wrote.Today CMAJ published replies by two groups of researchers who took issue with the evidence cited by Flegel, plus a reply from a Canadian advocacy group that raised similar questions and also expressed concern about vaccine side effects.A growing number of US health systems and hospitals now require their employees to receive a flu-shot or else wear a mask during flu season. In addition, a number of states require healthcare facilities to take steps to promote flu immunizations among their employees, according to information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).A CDC chart says that Alabama requires hospitals to mandate flu vaccination for their staff members. Ten other states (California, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and Tennessee) require healthcare facilities to offer flu shots and, in most cases, to require employees sign a form if they decline the immunization, according to the CDC.In Canada, Public Health Ontario recently recommended that healthcare facilities require flu shots for their staffs, according to the CMAJ editorial.Among the arguments Flegel made in the editorial were these:Flu vaccines are about 86% efficacious when they are well matched to circulating flu strainsFour randomized trials showed that high flu immunization rates in long-term care facility (LTCF) workers yielded a 5% to 20% reduction in overall seasonal mortality among residentsOne cost-benefit analysis suggested that every $1,000 (US) spent on vaccinating HCWs saved $1,600Flu strains with the potential to induce Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) “are generally avoided in creation of the vaccine”In reply, several members of the Cochrane Collaboration, an international network of researchers who examine the evidence for medical interventions, said Flegel cited an outdated version of their flu-vaccine review, leading to inaccuracies on the benefits of HCW vaccination.The group, led by Peter Doshi, PhD, of Johns Hopkins University, said Flegel cited a 2006 Cochrane review rather than the 2010 review in discussing the benefits in LTCFs. In the 2010 review, Doshi said he and his colleagues concluded that there was no evidence that vaccinating only HCWs prevents lab-confirmed flu, pneumonia, and death from pneumonia in LTCFs.The editorial also drew objections from experts at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, which publishes CIDRAP News.CIDRAP Director Michael T. Osterholm, PhD, MPH, and staff member Nicholas S. Kelley, PhD, wrote that they strongly support flu immunization for HCWs, but said the stated efficacy of 86% when the vaccine matches well with circulating strains is inaccurate.They noted that their own meta-analysis of flu vaccine efficacy and effectiveness studies, published last year in Lancet Infectious Diseases, concluded that inactivated vaccine provided about 59% protection in healthy, working-age adults and that the vaccine-virus match made little difference. (The meta-analysis was updated last month in a lengthy CIDRAP report on flu vaccines, which called for a major effort to develop “game-changing” vaccines.)In addition, they said that two of the four randomized trials that Flegel cited concerning protection in LTCFs do not support the claim, and the other two provide only weak evidence for it.Osterholm and Kelley made two further points:The cost savings cited by Flegel are not mentioned in the reference he used, and most flu-vaccine cost-effectiveness figures are based on overestimations of vaccine efficacy.There is no way to select flu strains that reduce the risk of GBS, because the reason that flu vaccines may cause the paralytic condition is still unclear.The other reply was written by Susan Fletcher, president of the Vaccination Risk Awareness Network Inc., a Canadian group that questions the safety of vaccines. She used information from the recent CIDRAP flu-vaccine report to question Flegel’s assertions about vaccine efficacy and “herd immunity” to flu.Fletcher also questioned the cost-effectiveness of flu vaccination for HCWs and argued that vaccine-related adverse events are probably under reported for various reasons, including consumers’ unawareness that they can report them.See also: Oct 29 CMAJ editorialReplies to editorial, published Nov 5 and 6CDC chart of state requirements on flu immunization for hospital workersOct 15 CIDRAP News story “Report: Complacency, misperception stymie quest for better flu vaccines”
Jan 2, 2013 (CIDRAP News) – The House of Representative’s final approval last night of a deal to stave off severe “fiscal cliff” budget cuts protects public health preparedness funding, at least for the next 2 months.Lack of an agreement on the measure, which passed the Senate during the early-morning hours yesterday, would have triggered automatic budget cuts beginning today, a key provision of an August 2011 bill that raised the national debt limit.Among a host of other nondefense jobs and services, the cuts would have seriously affected Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) grants that help states prepare for and respond to public health threats such as pandemic flu and bioterror attacks.A July report from Sen Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, estimated that the sequestration would have led to a $48 million reduction in fiscal year 2013 funding for the PHEP grant program, a 7.8% cut.Though Harkin’s July report warned that the cuts would have a destructive impact on programs that affect the middle class, he was one of the few senators who voted against the bill. In a statement yesterday Harkin criticized the bill, which he said includes permanent tax benefits for high-income earners and doesn’t do enough to generate new revenue and more jobs.Jeffrey Levi, PhD, executive director of Trust for America’s Health (TFAH), a nonprofit, nonpartisan health advocacy group based in Washington, D.C., told CIDRAP News that most of the fiscal cliff agreement focuses on taxes and revenue, with cuts to be named in the future. For the time being, preparedness funding is safe, he added.Another legislative issue that TFAH and other public health advocates have been watching in the final hours of the 112th Congress was possible Senate action on the reauthorization of the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA). First passed in 2006, the reauthorization would continue work on medical countermeasures against chemical, biological, radioactive, and nuclear threats, as well as programs to bolster the nation’s public health preparedness.On Dec 19 the House overwhelmingly passed a bill that after months of work between House and Senate members reflected common ground between the two chambers, and TFAH urged the Senate to swiftly pass the bill before the end of the year.Levi said, however, that the Senate did not act on the legislation, which means that it dies and the new Congress, which convenes tomorrow, must start the legislative process to reauthorize PAHPA all over again.See also:Dec 19, 2012, CIDRAP News scan “House passes final version of preparedness reauthorization law”Dec 19, 2012, TFAH statementJan 1 Sen Harkin statement
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