by German Lopez
Local infant deaths remain high, pension fixes proposed, Seitz renews anti-efficiency efforts
Cincinnati and Hamilton County’s infant mortality rates
dropped to record lows in 2013, but the city and county’s rates of
infant deaths remain far above the national average. Over the past five
years, the city’s infant mortality rate hit 12.4 deaths per 1,000 live
births and the county’s rate reached 9.9 deaths per 1,000 live births.
In comparison, the national average in 2011 was 6.1 deaths per 1,000
live births. Cradle Cincinnati, a collaborative initiative formed in
2013, pointed to three possible factors to explain the troubling rates: short
time between pregnancies, maternal smoking during pregnancy and poor
sleeping habits, including deaths that could be easily prevented by
ensuring a baby sleeps alone, on his or her back and in a crib.Councilman Christopher Smitherman yesterday proposed fixes
for Cincinnati’s ailing pension system, and the proposal includes a hit
to city retirees’ benefits. Unique to Smitherman’s plan is a new $100
million commitment to help shore up the city’s unfunded
liability of $870 million, but Smitherman could not say where council would get that
much money. Otherwise, the proposal would freeze cost of living
increases in the system for three years and reduce future cost of living increases from a
3 percent compounded rate to a 2 percent fixed rate, among other
changes. Smitherman hopes to get up-or-down votes on his plan within the
next two weeks, even if it requires splitting the plan into multiple
parts.State Sen. Bill Seitz plans to renew his efforts in the Ohio legislature to
dismantle the state’s renewable energy and efficiency mandates. Seitz says
“devastating testimony” in support of his bill should invigorate a push
for his plan. But the testimony will apparently be based off a flawed
industry-financed report released yesterday. A separate study, based on
an economic model from the Ohio State University, found Ohio’s energy standards
will save Ohioans $3.65 billion on their electricity bills between 2014
and 2025.Cincinnati plans to begin marketing an 18-acre plot of
land in Lower Price Hill to bring 400 jobs to the
struggling neighborhood. After the city finishes environmental
remediation this month, it hopes to put the property on the market. CityBeat previously covered some of Lower Price Hill’s struggles with poverty in further detail here.The gubernatorial race between Republican Gov. John Kasich and
Democratic challenger Ed FitzGerald tightened from seven points in
November to five points this month, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll. But the
survey did not include Libertarian candidate Charlie Earl as a choice —
an omission that could work to Kasich’s favor in the polling results.Gay families are being excluded from Obamacare benefits in
Ohio and other states in which same-sex marriage is not recognized.
That means Ohio’s gay families can’t get financial benefits going to
traditional families to help them get covered. President Barack Obama’s
administration says it’s aware of the issue, but it doesn’t plan a fix
until next year.Some Ohio lawmakers want an investigation into Kasich’s
administration after documents showed his administration planning to
work with oil and gas companies to promote fracking in state parks and
forests. Fracking is a drilling technique in which millions of gallons
of water, sand and chemicals are pumped underground to unlock oil and
gas reserves. CityBeat covered fracking and the controversy surrounding it in further detail here.Bad news: A Chinese firm won’t bring an $80 million project to the Cincinnati area after all.An Ohio driver rescued a kitten found frozen on the road.A parasite commonly found in cats can now be found in
arctic beluga whales. Scientists say melting ice barriers — a symptom of
climate change — explains the pathogen’s increased migration.Follow CityBeat on Twitter:• Main: @CityBeatCincy • News: @CityBeat_News • Music: @CityBeatMusic • German Lopez: @germanrlopezGot any news tips? Email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
by German Lopez
Posted In: News
at 12:38 PM | Permalink
Cradle Cincinnati hopes to reduce infant deaths through new initiative
Cincinnati and Hamilton County saw infant mortality rates
drop to the lowest on record in 2013, but the city and county’s rates
for infant deaths remained far above the national average, according to a
report released Tuesday by advocacy group Cradle Cincinnati.In 2013, the city saw 53 babies die before their first
birthday, or 9.9 deaths per 1,000 live births. Throughout the county,
the deaths of 95 babies put the rate at 8.9 deaths per 1,000 live
births.But in the past five years, the city’s infant mortality
rate hit 12.4 deaths per 1,000 live births and the county’s rate reached
9.9 deaths per 1,000 live births.Even worse, black families in Hamilton County were twice
as likely as white families to have a baby die before his or her first
birthday.In comparison, the national average for infant mortalities was 6.1 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2011.To help reduce the region’s high infant mortality rates, Cradle Cincinnati points to a few potential targets:• Short pregnancy spacing, meaning 18 months or fewer
between births, can lead to premature birth. It was associated with 33
percent of the county’s infant mortalities last year.• Maternal smoking during pregnancy can lead to premature
birth and birth defects. It was associated with 15 percent of the
county’s infant mortalities last year.• The local rate of sleep-related infant deaths in Hamilton
County is triple the national average. Many of these deaths could be prevented
by ensuring a baby sleeps alone, on his or her back and in a crib,
Cradle Cincinnati found.Cincinnati’s high rate of infant mortalities are one of
the many factors that help explain the city’s disparities in life
expectancies, according to Cincinnati Health Department officials.
A CityBeat analysis of U.S. Census Bureau and
Cincinnati Health Department data also tied neighborhood life
expectancies to income levels. The strong correlation could suggest a connection
between poverty and earlier death.Through the Cradle Cincinnati initiative established last year, local officials hope to put an end to the disturbing trends.
“We are cautiously optimistic that these numbers are going
down, but we still have a very long way to go,” said Hamilton County
Commissioner Todd Portune, founder and co-chair of Cradle Cincinnati, in
a statement. “We cannot rest until every child born in Hamilton County
lives to see his or her first birthday.”
Cradle Cincinnati’s full report:
0 Comments · Wednesday, November 6, 2013
Councilman Wendell Young and five other council members signed a motion Oct. 30 that asks the city administration to budget $2 million to address racial disparities in Cincinnati.
by German Lopez
Motion cites infant mortality, unemployment and economic worth as major issues
Councilman Wendell Young and five other council members on Oct. 30 signed a motion that asks the city administration to budget $2 million to address racial disparities in Cincinnati.
The motion cites three statistical disparities: Infant
mortality rates for black babies are three times the rate for white
babies; the unemployment rate for black residents is two to three times
the rate for white residents; and the black population only makes up 1
percent of the Cincinnati area’s economic worth despite making up nearly
half of the city’s population.
“As the City of Cincinnati invests in infrastructure to
support economic development and job growth, in developments that
attract new businesses, and in job retention and growth, it is of
critical importance that all members of the Cincinnati community
participate in our progress and prosperity,” Young’s motion states.
Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls and council members Pam Thomas,
Laure Quinlivan, Chris Seelbach and Yvette Simpson joined Young in
signing the motion.
The motion asks the city administration to budget $500,000 to each of four organizations in fiscal year
2015: the Urban League of
Greater Cincinnati, the Hamilton County Community Action Agency, the
African American Chamber of Commerce and the Center for Closing the
Health Gap. The money will “support minority business startups and
entrepreneurship, job training and workforce development, and access to
healthy foods and health care,” according to the motion.
The proposal comes as the city administration begins putting together a disparity study
to gauge whether the administration can and should favorably target
minority- and women-owned businesses through Cincinnati’s business
contracts. The results for that study will come back in February 2015.
It’s unclear how much weight the motion will carry in the
upcoming weeks. On Nov. 5, voters will elect a new mayor and City
Council. The next city administration and council could have a
completely different approach — or no approach at all — to addressing
racial disparity issues.
For more information on the upcoming election, check out CityBeat’s coverage and endorsements here.
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 2, 2013
In comparison to men, Ohio women have
lower incomes, hold fewer leadership roles and disproportionately suffer
from the state’s high infant mortality rate.
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Another effort to reduce Cincinnati’s
alarmingly high infant mortality rates launched Oct. 1, which local
leaders hope will help educate first-time parents in high-risk zip codes
on proper ways to put their infants to sleep.
by German Lopez
Shutdown hurts Ohio workers, infant mortality efforts continue, glitches snare Obamacare
Have any questions for City Council candidates? Submit them here and we may ask your questions at this Saturday’s candidate forum.
Early voting for the 2013 City Council and mayoral elections is now underway. Find your voting location here. Normal voting hours will be 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., although some days will be extended.
The ongoing federal government shutdown is keeping thousands of Ohioans from going to work.
The federal government closed its doors yesterday after House
Republicans refused to pass a budget that doesn’t weaken Obamacare and
Senate Democrats and the White House insisted on keeping President
Barack Obama’s signature health care law intact. Without a budget,
non-essential federal government services can’t operate.
As part of a broader campaign to reduce Cincinnati’s high infant mortality rate, the city yesterday launched another effort
that aims to educate parents in the city’s most
afflicted zip codes on proper ways to put their babies to sleep.
According to the Cincinnati Health Department, 36 babies died from
unsafe sleeping conditions between 2010 and 2011. Cradle Cincinnati plans to help prevent these deaths by reminding parents that babies should always
sleep alone, in a crib and on his or her back. The education effort is
just one of many to reduce Cincinnati’s infant mortality rates, which in
some local zip codes have been worse than rates in
Ohioans who tried to use Obamacare’s online marketplaces on opening day yesterday likely ran into some website errors,
but the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is asking
participants for patience as they work out the glitches, which appear to
be driven by overwhelming demand. The problems weren’t unexpected, given
that software launches are often mired in issues that are later
patched up. “We’re building a complicated piece of technology, and
hopefully you’ll give us the same slack you give Apple,” HHS Secretary
Kathleen Sebelius told reporters at a Sept. 30 briefing.
Domestic violence arrests in 2012 were down from the previous year, but law enforcement officials say they need more help
from lawmakers to bring down the number, which remained above 41,000,
even further. Officials claim a law on teen dating violence, which,
among other things, allows protective orders on accused abusers who are
under 18 years old, has helped, but advocates argue protections need to
be strengthened. CityBeat covered the advocates’ efforts in further detail here.
The Ohio Libertarian Party asked lawmakers at a hearing yesterday to loosen restrictions
in a bill that seeks to limit ballot access for minor political
parties. The bill, which is sponsored by State Sen. Bill Seitz
(R-Cincinnati), requires minor parties to gather an estimated 100,000
signatures every two years to remain on the ballot, which Libertarians
say would be difficult and expensive. Instead, Libertarians would like
that provision to require the signatures every four years. Libertarians
also asked lawmakers to allow voting thresholds, which give minor
parties automatic recognition in Ohio if they get 3 percent or more of
the vote, to apply to more than the gubernatorial race. Seitz said he’s
open to the changes.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced yesterday that
the Bureau of Criminal Investigation exceeded its goal of testing 1,500
rape kits in the program’s first year. In total, the agency has tested
1,585 out of 4,053 submitted kits. The program allows local and state law enforcement to
analyze and match DNA evidence to verify criminal allegations. So far, it has led to
505 DNA matches.
Cincinnati could make an offer by the end of the year
for a currently unused section of the Wasson Way railroad line that the
city plans to convert into a five-mile bike and hike trail.
Three more downtown buildings will house apartments.
Although the buildings aren’t directly on the streetcar route, the
developer said that public transportation, along with bicycles, will
play an important role in promoting the apartments because they won’t
have dedicated parking.
The Greater Cincinnati Green Business Council is offering an energy benchmarking toolkit that allows small and medium-sized businesses to see how they can improve their environmental performance.
Good Samaritan Hospital in Cincinnati is the No. 1 hospital for delivering babies in Ohio.
The number of induced abortions in Ohio rose between 2011
and 2012 but ended up at the second lowest levels since 1976, according
to the Ohio Department of Health.
The Ohio Department of Transportation is putting more than $3 million toward purchasing new vehicles and equipment that should help elderly and disabled residents across the state.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first “artificial pancreas” to help diabetics better monitor and control their insulin levels.
by German Lopez
Bill restricts abortions, locals to combat infant deaths, Reece criticizes voter investigations
Got questions for CityBeat about, well, anything? Submit them here, and we’ll try to get back to you in our first Answers Issue. CityBeat is also looking to talk to anyone who’s been incarcerated for a drug-related offense in Ohio. If you know someone or are someone interested in talking to us, email email@example.com. An Ohio House bill introduced June 11 would impose harsher restrictions on legal abortions, and some of the requirements may coerce doctors into giving medically inaccurate information. Among other requirements, the bill would force doctors to explain fetal development and supposed risks to inducing an abortion, while pregnant patients would be forced to undergo an ultrasound 48 hours before the procedure. But research has found that, barring rare complications, the medical risks listed in the bill are not linked to abortion.Local leaders are beginning a collaborative effort to combat Cincinnati's alarmingly high rate of infant mortality. The effort is bringing together local politicians from both sides of the aisle, nonprofit groups and local hospitals. Infant mortality rates are measured by the number of deaths of babies less than one year old per 1,000 live births. In Cincinnati, infant mortality rates are at 13.6, while the national average is six. In previous comments, Mayor Mark Mallory explained his moral justification for increased efforts against infant mortality: "In Cincinnati, we have had more infant deaths in recent
years than victims of homicide. Our community, justifiably, invests
millions of dollars, immense political capital and large amounts of
media attention in reducing our homicide rate. It's time to start doing
the same for our infant mortality rate."State Rep. Alicia Reece, who heads the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus, sent a letter to Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted yesterday criticizing recent efforts to investigate 39 voter fraud cases in Hamilton County. "It is unfortunate that during the past few years, the focus has been on voter suppression instead of voter access and education," Reece said in a statement. "Many of these voters come from African-American and low-income neighborhoods, and they would benefit from a comprehensive voter education program." CityBeat previously covered the 39 "double voter" cases, which mostly involved voters sending an absentee ballot prior to Election Day then voting through a provisional ballot on Election Day, here.Mayoral candidates Roxanne Qualls, John Cranley, Jim Berns and Stacy Smith squared off at a mayoral forum yesterday. Democrats Qualls and Cranley, who are widely seen as the top contenders, debated the parking plan and streetcar project — both of which Qualls supports and Cranley opposes. CityBeat previously covered the streetcar project and how it could relate to the mayor's race here.An audit of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) found Ohio's Medicaid program could save $30 million by avoiding fraudulent billing. State officials responded to the audit by highlighting changes in budget plans that supposedly take steps to reduce Medicaid fraud, including Gov. John Kasich's proposal to add five full-time Medicaid auditors to perform additional on-site monitoring in an effort to reduce overpayments.Ohio lawmakers seem unlikely to approve a federally funded Medicaid expansion, but bipartisan bills introduced in the Ohio House and Senate make sweeping changes to the Medicaid program that aim to lower costs and make the government health care program more efficient. Legislators claim the goal is to bring down costs without reducing services, all while providing avenues for Medicaid participants to move out of poverty. Hearings for the bill will begin next week.After giving a speech celebrating the resurfacing of a high-speed test track, Gov. Kasich rode a car at 130 miles per hour in a more literal "victory lap."Scientists are apparently making advancements in helping people regrow limbs.
by Hannah McCartney
Cincinnati infants are dying at an alarmingly high rate
Some parts of Cincinnati suffer from higher infant mortality rates than third-world countries. In the city as a whole, infants die at rates more than twice the national average. We’ve been asking, “Why?” for a long time; this mysterious plague wiping out our infants hasn’t been solved even as our hospitals are recognized worldwide and as it continues to be at the forefront of our public health discussions. Local politicians, hospitals, health experts and advocates are hoping the answer is one that's been lying in front of them the whole time: collaboration. Today marked the official conjoining of local politicians, health experts, advocates and Cincinnati’s top hospitals providing birthing services in hopes of working together to reduce the areas’ infant mortality rate to below that of the national average within the next five years. The new partnership is comprised of Hamilton Country Commissioners Todd Portune and Chris Monzel, who co-chair the effort; the Center for Closing the Health Gap; Mayor Mark Mallory; Councilmember Wendell Young; and hospitals including Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Christ Hospital, Mercy Health, TriHealth, UC Health and the UC College of Nursing. While the hospitals are typically competitors, the disturbing, long-standing statistics Monzel described as an "embarrassment" have fueled area health providers to set aside competition and unite Cincinnati’s top health experts to bring Cincinnati's infant mortality levels below the national average within the next five years. “We’re checking egos and names and brands at the door,” said Commissioner Portune. "Enough is enough." Efforts to reduce infant mortality, Portune explained, have been active for years; however, because they've been fragmented — disconnected from one another — establishing best practices just hasn't been possible. Initial funding comes from an agreement that County Commissioners Portune and Monzel made with Jim Kingsbury, UC Health president and CEO, as part of the county's sale of Drake Hospital. Representatives plan to meet on a regular basis to share best practices, exchange ideas and report data. In February, Mayor Mark Mallory entered the city into the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayors Challenge, a national competition to inspire city leaders to solve urban problems. His proposal involved the creation of the Infant Vitality Surveillance Network, which would have followed new mothers in high-risk areas through pregnancy, creating a database of new mothers and monitoring pregnancies. In Mallory’s submission, he put the problem into perspective: “In Cincinnati, we have had more infant deaths in recent years than victims of homicide. Our community, justifiably, invests millions of dollars, immense political capital, and large amounts of media attention in reducing our homicide rate. It's time to start doing the same for our infant mortality rate.”Although Cincinnati was named one of the top 20 finalists out of more than 305 cities, it was not selected as one of the five to receive up to $5 million in funding to jump-start the initiative. Infant mortality rates are measured by the number of deaths of babies less than one year old per 1,000 live births. In Cincinnati, infant mortality rates are at 13.6; the national average is 6. Cincinnati’s black community is especially afflicted by infant mortality. In Ohio, black infants die at more than twice the rate of white infants. To look at a map of infant mortality rates in Greater Cincinnati by zip code or to read about some of the leading causes of infant mortality, visit the Cincinnati Health Department's website.
by German Lopez
Streetcar budget fixes detailed, Senate kills 'right to work,' county fights infant mortality
City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. gave his suggestions for fixing the streetcar budget gap Tuesday, and CityBeat analyzed the details here. The suggestion, which include temporarily using front-loaded Music Hall funds and pulling money from other capital projects, are capital budget items that can't be used to balance the city's $35 million operating budget deficit because of limits in state law, so if City Council approved the suggestions, the streetcar would not be saved at the expense of cops, firefighters and other city employees being laid off to balance the operating budget.Ohio Senate Republicans seem unlikely to take up so-called "right to work" (RTW) legislation after it was proposed in the Ohio House. RTW legislation prevents unions and employers from making collective bargaining agreements that require union membership to be hired for a job, significantly weakening a union's leverage in negotiations by reducing membership. Since states began adopting the anti-union laws, union membership has dropped dramatically around the nation. Democrats, including gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald, were quick to condemn the RTW bills and compare them to S.B. 5, a 2011 bill backed by Republican Gov. John Kasich and Ohio Republicans that would have limited collective bargaining powers for public employees and significantly reduced public sector unions' political power.Hamilton County commissioners approved a county-wide collaborative between health and government agencies to help reduce the county's infant mortality rate, which has exceeded the national average for more than a decade. Funding for the program will come in part from the sale of Drake Hospital to UC Health.With a 7-2 vote yesterday, City Council updated its "responsible bidder" ordinance, which requires job training from contractors working with the Metropolitan Sewer District, to close loopholes and include Greater Cincinnati Water Works projects. Councilman Chris Seelbach led the charge on the changes, which were opposed by council members Chris Smitherman and Charlie Winburn.Ohio Senate Democrats are still pushing the Medicaid expansion, which the Health Policy Institute of Ohio found would insure 456,000 Ohioans and save the state money in the next decade. Ohio House Republicans effectively rejected the expansion with their budget bill, which the Ohio Senate is now reviewing. CityBeat covered the Ohio House budget bill in further detail here.The state's Public Utilities Commissions of Ohio approved a 2.9 percent rate hike for Duke Energy, which will cost customers an average of $3.72 every month.Concealed carry permits issued in Ohio nearly doubled in the first three months of the year, following a wave of mass shootings in the past year and talks of federal gun control legislation.Real headline from The Cincinnati Enquirer: "How much skin is too much skin for teens at prom?"A Pennsylvania woman who had been missing for 11 years turned herself in to authorities in Florida.New research shows early American settlers at Jamestown, Va., ate each other.