Americans need a “medical cultural revolution”

HEALTH | In the Huffington Post, Brian Castrucci, Chief Program and Strategy Officer of the de Beaumont Foundation, calls for a “medical cultural revolution” to address the high rate of chronic illness among Americans — illnesses that are largely caused by social and environmental conditions, rather than bacteria and viruses (HuffPo, 3/6)

There is no treatment, pill, or vaccine to address the lack of fresh fruits and vegetables to support a healthy diet, limited options for physical activity, exposures to environmental toxins, or the disproportionate distribution of alcohol and tobacco advertising and outlets. These are the community-level drivers of the chronic diseases that plague population health and are responsible for much of the healthcare spending in the US.

Health care reforms, including the Patient Accountability and Affordable Care Act, focus on needed changes to healthcare financing and reimbursement as well as increased access to healthcare. These are worthwhile goals, but they will not lead to the transformation needed in American health. Integrating the efforts of public health and clinical medicine will allow us to make the next vital transformation in healthcare to ensure that we have a system that acts upon the undeniable link between the individual and the community.

Related: The de Beaumont Foundation, together with Duke University and the Centers for Disease Control, recently launched an initiative called the “Practical Playbook,” an online toolkit for those working to integrate public health and primary care. More information from de Beaumont is available here.

Related for WRAG members: At the next Health Working Group meeting, Brian will demonstrate the Playbook and lead a discussion on its potential application in the Greater Washington region. More information is available here.

– The U.S. Department of Education has placed a hold on a portion of the funds it previously awarded the District as part of the Race to the Top competition, citing concerns with the management of the Office of the State Superintendent of Education. OSSE handles the grant funds, which were intended for eight low-performing schools. (WaPo, 3/19)

On Wednesday, federal officials released a progress report showing problems with the District’s effort to improve the eight schools.

According to the report, the District is behind in its obligation to come up with a strategy for those schools — Browne Education Campus, Garfield Elementary School, Johnson Middle School, Kramer Middle School, Anacostia High School, Dunbar High School, Eastern High School and Luke C. Moore High School.

Ann Whalen, who oversees implementation of the $4 billion in Race to the Top grants at the Education Department, said that before OSSE can tap into the federal dollars it won to improve those schools, it will have to submit additional plans and “get our approval so the way they’re spending their money matches the commitment they made.”

Greater Greater Education looks at the secret behind Thurgood Marshall Academy’s success and whether DCPS can replicate it. (GGE, 3/18)

HOUSING | Following the Post investigation into abusive practices among tax lien investors in the District, legislation will soon be brought before the D.C. Council that would dramatically overhaul the city’s policies and practices regarding the sale of tax liens. The changes would better protect homeowners who fall behind on their property taxes. (WaPo, 3/19)

FOOD | Cheh introduces bill to provide poor D.C. children with meals on snow days (WaPo, 3/18)

TRANSIT | In a shocking turn of events, there is still no start date for the Silver Line. (WAMU, 3/19)

NONPROFITS | The Nonprofit Roundtable of Greater Washington is accepting applications until March 31 for their Future Executive Directors Fellowship program. More information and the application are available here.

Recently some cosmologists made a big discovery that supported a very long-held theory about the big bang (and that’s about as much as I can understand from that article). This is a bit more comprehensible for the layperson: a physicist’s reaction when he found out the work he’d been doing for decades had actually been worth it.