Good weekend to all.
At the start of the week, the Pennsylvania Department of Health announced the creation of an advisory group to improve support for pregnancy and postpartum care across the Commonwealth.
Known as the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Advisory Group, it is responsible for “providing support to increase healthier pregnancies and postpartum care,” according to the department.
“From my work as an OBGYN physician, I know how important it is for women, children, and infants to receive the proper nutrition during pregnancy, after pregnancy, and throughout child development” , said Acting Secretary of Health and Pennsylvania Surgeon General Dr. Denise Johnson. “The advisory group will make recommendations for connecting resources to women, infants, and children across Pennsylvania to ensure that the greatest number of eligible people benefit from this program and are aware of the services available to them. I look forward to working with this group to identify solutions and positively impact Pennsylvania families for generations to come.
Sixteen members appointed by the DOH make up the advisory group, including:
- Theodore Deitman, District Director, Maternal and Family Health Services, Towanda
- Gerria Coffee, Owner and Founder, Genesis Birth Services, Williamsport
- Melanie Readal, Public Health Administrator, Allegheny County Health Department, Pittsburgh
- Charlotte Dorsey, WIC Education Manager, York
- Cathy Moffit, WIC Director, Mon Valley Community Health Services Inc., Monessen
- Raeni Yock, WIC mother, Johnstown
- Katja Pigur, Senior Director of Programs and Business Development, Maternity Care Coalition, Philadelphia
- Carol Gerner, Food Equity Ambassador, Pittsburgh
- Danielle Morgan, Fulfillment Center Coordinator, Genesis of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh
- Kelly Kane, Chief Medical Officer at UPMC CCP, Altoona
- Lisa Sanchez, CPA and Medical Liaison, Community Health Services, Linesville
- Mim Seidel, Assistant Professor, Chatham University, Pittsburgh
- Britney Zwergel, Senior Director of Nutrition Services, Adagio Health, Pittsburgh
- Brian Whorl, Director of Federal Programs Division, Department of Social Services, Office of Income Maintenance, Office of Policy, Harrisburg
- Alex Baloga, President and CEO, Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association, Wormleysburg
- Michael Howells, Director of Research and Association Services, Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association, Wormleysburg
A spokesperson for the health department says that inequalities in maternal health care would be an area of interest for the advisory group as it begins its work.
The Commonwealth infant mortality rate was 5.9 per 1,000 live births in 2019the most recent year for which the data is available.
The Child mortality rate among black infants in Pennsylvania was more than double that of white infants at 11.2 for 1,000 live births.
Similarly, the Capital-Star has previously reported this pregnancy-related deaths grown by more than 21 percent in the five years between 2013 and 2018.
The advisory group will hold its first meeting virtually next month, according to the department.
As always, the top five stories from this week are below.
1. This week is a good time to be a Pennsylvania Democrat | Fletcher McClellan
Pennsylvania Democrats received good news last week from a Fox News poll showing their gubernatorial and U.S. senator candidates had a solid lead over their Republican rivals.
According to the poll, conducted July 22-26 with a margin of error of +/-3%, Attorney General Josh Shapiro leads State Sen. Doug Mastriano, 50% to 40%. That’s a big improvement for Shapiro, whose lead in June polls was 3-4 points, within the margin of error.
In the race for the U.S. Senate, Lt. Governor John Fetterman extended his June advantage to double digits over Republican nominee Dr. Mehmet Oz, 47%-36%.
2. Philadelphia announces targeted vaccine response to monkeypox
The Philadelphia Department of Public Health announcement that five local clinics received doses of monkeypox vaccine to distribute to people at high risk of exposure. The clinics are Mazzoni Center, Philadelphia FIGHT, Presbyterian Hospital, Drexel Partnership and Penn Medicine. Each clinic caters to specific patients for vaccination. At this time walk-in appointments are not available.
For people at high risk and/or who may have been exposed to monkeypox but who are not patients of the five clinics, the health department indicates on their website that they are “encouraged to call the Department of Health call center at 215-685-5488. Call takers will review eligibility and schedule an appointment for the vaccine if eligible. The health department noted that people who show symptoms of monkeypox or who have been diagnosed with monkeypox cannot be vaccinated.
3. US Senate fails to advance burning fireplaces bill for veterans in spending dispute
The U.S. Senate on Wednesday failed to advance legislation that would provide health care and benefits to veterans exposed to burning fireplaces overseas.
The invoiceby Democratic Montana Senator John Tester and Republican Kansas Senator Jerry Moran, has been bogged down for nearly two months as U.S. lawmakers debate whether to propose amendments and exactly how to fix a minor part of the bill of law that blocked the process in the house.
The Senate on Wednesday voted 55 to 42 to advance the bill toward final passage, but that fell short of the 60-vote threshold and the legislation is stalled, though supporters may call for another vote .
4. Not in. Toomey faces heat from veterans’ Jon Stewart over burn pit legislation
Citing a provision he said would lead to an ‘explosion’ of federal spending, US Senator Pat Toomey was one of 41 Republican senators who voted this week to block legislation that would have extended health care benefits to veterans. combatants exposed to toxic burns during their services.
In a speech to the Senate this week, Toomey laid out his reasoning for voting against the measure and expressed his desire to amend the bill and fix the provision. But by stopping the legislation – known as the Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act, or the PACTE law – Toomey has gained a high profile nemesis in the process: former “The Daily Show” host Jon Stewart.
Stewart, who has long advocated for veterans’ issues, as well as the families of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack, criticized Senate Republicans for failing to muster the votes needed to head off a filibuster.
5. New Pa. Budget Includes $140 Million Increase to State Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program
Inflation is causing price hikes across Pennsylvania, but the new state budget seeks to alleviate a cost for the elderly and disabled.
The $45.2 billion state budget that Governor Tom Wolf signed into law last week, providing for a $140 million increase in the state’s property tax/rent rebate program, an action which will increase payments by 70% for one year.
Pennsylvanians living with a disability, widows age 50 and older, and general residents age 65 or older may qualify. The program has income limits, excluding half of Social Security income, for landlords with annual incomes of less than $35,000 or renters who earn less than $15,000 per year.
And this is the week. We’ll see you here next week.