6/4: Put Sugary Drink Ban on Ice…Ban Goes Too Far, Says Majority

June 4, 2012 by  
Filed under Featured, NYC, NYC Poll Archive, Politics

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg caused a stir last week when he proposed the ban of sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces in establishments other than grocery and convenience stores.  What do New York City residents think about the proposal?  53% of adults in the Big Apple believe it’s a bad idea while 42% say it is a good one.  Six percent are unsure.

large sugary sodaClick Here for Complete June 4, 2012 NYC NY1-Marist Poll Release and Tables

“Unfortunately for Mayor Bloomberg, New Yorkers find the glass to be half empty on his proposal to ban super-size drinks,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.

By borough, the proposal is poorly received among residents in Queens and Staten Island and in Brooklyn.  58% of adults in Queens and Staten Island and 55% of those in Brooklyn say the ban is a bad idea.  However, 52% of Manhattan residents think the proposal is a good one.  In the Bronx, 49% say the plan is a bad idea while 44% think it’s a good one.

Even a majority of New Yorkers who want to lose weight — 51% — think the restriction is not a good idea.

And, while 42% of New York City adults report the idea is good health policy to fight the problem of obesity, 53% believe Bloomberg’s plan is an example of government going too far.  Five percent are unsure.

Many New Yorkers think there’s little point to the ban.  52% state the proposal won’t help people watch their weight.  45% disagree and say it will, and 3% are unsure.

The proposal made quite a splash.  67% have seen or heard about it including 39% who have heard a great deal about it and 28% who know a good amount.  16% haven’t heard or seen very much about the plan, and 17% know nothing at all about it.

When it comes to New Yorkers’ own drinking habits, the ban would affect less than one in five adults.  Just 17% of residents say they purchase a beverage larger than 16 ounces when they go out to eat, to the movies, or to a sporting event.  This includes 6% who report they do so very often and 11% who say they often do.  31% state it’s rare they make such a purchase, and 52% say they never buy super-size drinks.  Not surprisingly, 64% of those who purchase these large drinks think the mayor’s proposed ban is a bad idea.

Table: Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Proposed Ban on Sugary Drinks in NYC

Table: NYC Sugary Drink Ban: Good Health Policy or Goes Too Far?

Table: Impact of Proposed Sugary Drink Ban on People’s Weight

Table: Aware of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Proposed Ban on Sugary Drinks in NYC

Table: Frequency of Buying a Drink Larger than 16 Ounces

Bloomberg Approval Rating at 45%

45% of registered voters in New York City believe Mayor Bloomberg is doing either an excellent or good job in office.  This includes 9% who say he is doing an excellent one and 36% who report he is doing a good one.  29% rate Bloomberg’s job performance as fair while 20% think he is performing poorly.  Six percent are unsure.

When NY1-Marist last asked this question in April, 44% gave the mayor high marks.  33% said he was doing an average job while 22% believed he fell short.  Only 1%, at the time, was unsure.

By borough:

  • Among voters in the Bronx, 36% approve of Bloomberg’s job performance.  This compares with 33% who thought this way in April.
  • In Brooklyn, 42% praise the mayor while a similar proportion — 46% — previously gave Bloomberg a thumbs-up.
  • 48% of registered voters in Queens and Staten Island believe the mayor is doing an excellent or good job in office while 44% had this opinion in April.
  • Looking at Manhattan, 50% approve of Mayor Bloomberg’s job performance.  This compares with 51% who shared this view in NY1-Marist’s April survey.

Table: Mayor Michael Bloomberg Approval Rating

Table: Mayor Michael Bloomberg Approval Rating Over Time

 

Trend graph: Bloomberg approval rating over time.

Click on the graph to enlarge the image.

How the Survey was Conducted

Nature of the Sample

 

9/1: Off Guard…Concern About Swine Flu Low Among Americans

September 1, 2009 by  
Filed under Featured, Health Care, Health Care Archive, Politics

If public officials want Americans to take the possible dangers of the H1N1 virus commonly known as “swine flu” seriously, more needs to be done.  Nearly two-thirds of residents nationwide — 64% — are not very concerned or not concerned at all that someone in their household will contract swine flu.  This includes 29% of the overall population who are not concerned at all.  In fact, just 11% are very concerned, and 25% have some degree of worry.

h1n1_290

©istockphoto.com/yesfoto

Concerns divide along racial lines.  More African Americans and Latinos have some degree of worry compared with white residents.  Just 30% of whites are either concerned or very concerned about the second outbreak affecting their families.  This compares with 49% of African Americans and 57% of Latinos.  There is also increased worry among residents 45 and older and women compared with younger Americans and men.

Perhaps, the reason why Americans, on the whole, are not too concerned about a new battle with swine flu is that so few have been affected personally by the virus.  Just 10% of U.S. residents report that they know someone who has had the H1N1 virus.  More younger residents than older ones know someone who has suffered from the H1N1 virus with 14% of Americans younger than 45 years old and 7% of those 45 and older reporting this to be the case.

Table: Concern About Contracting H1N1
Table: Know Someone with H1N1

Split Decision Among Americans About Schools’ Preparedness

Saint Francis Preparatory School in New York City became ground zero for an outbreak of swine flu this past spring.  So, do Americans think schools in their communities are prepared to handle an outbreak this fall?  Residents divide.  40% believe they are either prepared or very prepared while 44% say their local schools are not very prepared or not prepared at all.

As for parents whose children will be sitting in those classrooms, they are nearly split.  45% of households with children report the schools are well equipped while 46% say they are not.

Table: Schools’ Preparedness to Deal with H1N1 Virus

Marist Poll Methodology

Related Stories:

9/1: Swine Flu from “Ground Zero”

9/1: Preventing Swine Flu…An Interview with the CDC

9/1: Swine Flu from “Ground Zero”

September 1, 2009 by  
Filed under Featured, Health Care, Politics

The swine flu outbreak began last spring when the first cases were reported at St. Francis Preparatory School in Queens, New York.  In an interview with the Marist Poll’s John Sparks, Assistant Principal Patrick McLaughlin recalls last April’s outbreak and addresses steps the school is taking this Fall to meet the threat of the swine flu epidemic.  Read the full interview below.

Patrick McLaughlin

Pat McLaughlin

John Sparks
One of the first incidents of Swine Flu, or what is now known as H1N1, began at St. Francis.  Were you surprised of the outbreak taking place at St. Francis?

Listen to the Interview, Part 1:

soundboard.com

Pat McLaughlin
We were very surprised.  In fact when we started having some cases come in, we didn’t know what it was, and that was about April 23rd or so of this year.  And, it took us a day to find out from the Department of Health that it may have been the Swine Flu going through the building.  So, yeah, we weren’t ready for something like that.

John Sparks
Have you ever been able to determine why it took place at St. Francis?

Pat McLaughlin
We had some senior students who went on a trip to Cancun, Mexico, and it was not school sponsored.  They went on their own.  We know that a couple of those students were ill when they came back from the trip and then came to school while they were ill.  So, as we look back, when they entered the school, I guess it was the 19th or 20th of April, quickly the organism, the pathogen started spreading from one student to another.  And, as you know, being in a classroom with bodies in close contact, it’s very easy for a pathogen to spread very quickly.  So, we think that’s how it started here.

John Sparks
As we approach the flu season, we’re also approaching the beginning of school for the Fall semester.  What preparations are you taking to meet the threat of the Swine Flu epidemic?

Pat McLaughlin
Just to say that we’ve been through this once, and that was a great education for us.  We did close for a week.  We removed people from the building – staff, faculty, and students.  We scrubbed the building down. Now, we think coming into September to a new school year, it’s a lot about education, and first and foremost, we’re going to meet with faculty and staff and students, and one of the first things we’re going to say is if you feel sick, don’t come to school.  If you have symptoms of a flu, don’t come into the building.  We’re going to say that at the assemblies.  We’re going to put it on the website.  We are going to have it scrolling on monitors that we have set up in the public areas of the building, the lobbies.  We’ll have it in much of our paperwork that goes home to parents as well.  So, we have to make a stand in terms of educating everyone within the community as to what the symptoms are of any type of flu and what precautions to take. So, that’s going to be one of the jobs we have at hand for the beginning of school.

St. Francis Preparatory School

St. Francis Preparatory School

Our nurse has been traveling throughout the summer to a variety of workshops to give her expertise to other educational administrators as to what she went through, and she also has come up with a plan for the medical office in terms of dealing with those students coming down with any type of illness.  And, if they show signs of fever and flu-like symptoms, they’ll be immediately quarantined into a part of our auditorium, and it’s been advised that they wear protective masks as well so they don’t transmit the disease to someone else.  So, I think coming into this school year, we’re ready in terms of getting the information out, in terms of educating the people within the community, and ready to just get into action with anything that we’re confronted with.

John Sparks
We conducted a national poll, and we asked the American public how concerned they were about Swine Flu, and about 36% of the American public said that they were very concerned or somewhat concerned, but 64% said that they were not very concerned or not concerned at all.  I’m just curious to your reaction to that and whether you anticipate another outbreak of Swine Flu?

Listen to Part 2:

soundboard.com

Pat McLaughlin
Well, you can me put in the category that says very concerned at this point, because we’re dealing with a population that is a target population for the disease.  We’re dealing with a population that is always in close contact, and from our experience in the Spring, we saw how quickly the incubation period for the Swine Flu is.  So, it concerns us greatly that we have everyone onboard in terms of the information that we’ll give them, everyone onboard understanding what to do if they feel ill or if they see other people who are ill.  So, that’s a great concern for us.  And, I would dare there say that any school should be very concerned about the precautions that they need to take.  They should be very concerned about knowledge within the building of illness.  So, I think that’s something any school has to take seriously coming into the new school year.

John Sparks
Now, I spoke with some people in the health services community who told me that even if they put all efforts and resources toward manufacturing vaccine for H1N1, that there would not be nearly enough and that would also impact the reserves for what we call traditional flu vaccines.  I’m just curious, have any of your students been getting vaccinated?

Pat McLaughlin
I can’t speak to that right now, because they have not been in the school yet.  Our new incoming freshman class will be in the building starting on Monday and Tuesday.  So, that’s the first that we’ll see of them. But we don’t have a measurement on how many students or faculty have gotten the flu shot yet.

John Sparks
You mentioned about your school nurse and some of the things that have been going on.  I’m just curious what role the city or state health departments may have been playing in all this since the outbreak last Spring.

Pat McLaughlin
They were a tremendous help to us.  We immediately contacted the Board of Health. Again, when it first hit us that, I guess it was the Thursday the 23rd, and we had a number of students come down to the medical office ill, we didn’t know what it was.  We didn’t know whether it was a flu, whether there was something in the air or what it was.  So, we immediately contacted the Department of Health when we saw the numbers that we were facing.  They sent a person in the next day who did some swabs and identified that it was indeed the Swine Flu.  So, we followed their direction from that very beginning of the episode, and they’ve been extremely helpful.  They were in contact with us through the entire spring semester, the rest of the entire spring semester, guiding us, helping us, giving us feedback, and we have been awaiting their recommendations on what school should do for the upcoming school year.  So, we’re going to implement those as well.  But, I have to say that the Department of Health in consultation with the Centers for Disease Control and the mayor’s office were a great help to us in getting through this whole episode.

John Sparks
Since that episode last spring, has it had an impact on your enrollment for the fall?

Listen to Part 3:

soundboard.com

Pat McLaughlin
I don’t get that impression.  In freshmen that we talk to and parents of freshmen who are incoming, that didn’t seem to play a role. I think people looked at it as we just got a little bit unlucky here in the spring, and it doesn’t seem to have played a role in the school itself, because I think people know the quality of the education here. They know that the — when they come here, they’re going to get a caring, nurturing environment.  So, I don’t think that episode really played a role in enrollment.

John Sparks
I’m just curious, Pat, how you might characterize the feelings of the parents, the students, and the faculty – fearful, cautious, anxious, unconcerned?

Pat McLaughlin
Learned. I think we went through a situation together, and I have to say that when the Department of Health followed up with a survey about what we did here and who got sick and what they did with medical care, we had a tremendous outpouring of parental support, and I think the people within the school also stepped up to keep everything going in terms of the academic work for the students.  So, it was… that was, I guess, the most positive thing that could’ve come out of a negative situation was that the community came together and realized that we just got a little bit unlucky, and we have to do the best with it as we could at that point.

John Sparks
I’m just curious in looking back, and hindsight is 20/20, what you might’ve learned from the incident last spring?  Was there anything that you would do differently?  And, as a result of what happened, I would think that, perhaps, Saint Francis certainly is doing everything possible to deal with this in the future.

Pat McLaughlin
I think if we knew then what we know now, we would’ve implemented the things that we’re going to implement this September. If we knew the Swine Flu was coming our way, there would’ve been a great effort on our part to educate people about the aspects of influenza, of the Swine Flu, and how to prevent it, also what to do if you feel ill.  If you have a fever and you feel sick, stay home. And, we had some students who felt sick, had a fever and still came to school and still tried to push it, and that’s commendable that they want to be in school, and they want to learn; but at the same time, it perpetuated the illness within the community and made it worse.  So, we learned that about the influenza at that time.  We also learned that if we do have a number of students come down with these symptoms, to quarantine them.  Our nurse’s office wasn’t big enough to take care of a quarantine at that time.  So, now we’ve… in our emergency plan, we have sectioned off a part of our auditorium where we can put those students and isolate them until we can make contact with their parents and have them come up and pick up their child to get medical care.  So, I think we learned a lot from that experience, and what we learned, we are now implementing at this point.

John Sparks
Pat, I sure appreciate your time this afternoon. Anything else that you would like to add or speak to in regard to H1N1?

Pat McLaughlin
Well, I just want to say, John, that we do a cleaning during the summer anyway. The building’s spotless when the students come back, and we did the same thing.  And, when this first hit on the 23rd, that weekend we spent the money, we brought a crew of our maintenance people in, and they scrubbed down the entire building.  So, I’d like to say that we’re ready to go with the school year; we’re prepared, and I’m hoping that the information that we have will help us deal with anything that comes in.

** The views and opinions expressed in this and other interviews found on this site are expressly those of the speakers or authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Marist Poll.

Related Stories:

9/1: Off Guard…Concern About Swine Flu Low Among Americans

9/1: Preventing Swine Flu…An Interview with the CDC

9/1: Preventing Swine Flu…An Interview with the CDC

September 1, 2009 by  
Filed under Featured, Health Care, Politics

Should Americans be concerned about H1N1 influenza, and what precautions should they take to be protected from the swine flu?  The Marist Poll’s John Sparks talks with Joe Quimby of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.  Read the full interview below.

©istockphoto.com/DNY59

©istockphoto.com/DNY59

John Sparks
Joe, The Marist Poll conducted a national survey of the American public, and we found that 64% of the American public told us that they were not very concerned or not concerned at all about H1N1  Should folks be concerned?

Joe Quimby
Short answer to that is yes, the American public should be concerned about 2009 A H1N1 influenza because flu is very unpredictable.  We’ve had over 8,800 hospitalizations to date since April, and 556 people have died in the United States.  Although we don’t know the exact number of people who have been ill, as of late May, we knew that well over a million people had either been sick or were sick and certainly that number’s increased.  So, people do need to be concerned with this and both seasonal flu.

Listen to the Interview, Part 1:

soundboard.com

John Sparks
Well what precautions should people take about H1N1?

Joe Quimby
Well, it’s the same precaution for this flu as for seasonal flu.  They need to … if they’re becoming ill, they need to stay home and stay — self-isolate themselves.  If they have an underlying health condition, they need to seek attention from their medical provider, particularly people like pregnant women, who, unfortunately, of those who have died, we’re seeing about an unproportional number of deaths of pregnant women, 6% on average, whereas only 1% of the population is pregnant at any one time.  People who are asthmatic, other people with underlying health conditions certainly should not wait at all, should contact their health providers. But a generally healthy person who becomes ill should not flood to emergency rooms or whatever and be overly worried.  If you’re in generally good health, you’re going to probably pull through this in a couple of days, probably don’t even need to see a doctor, but that’ll be an individual call.  But we want people to be prudent about seeking medical care, particularly if they do have an underlying health condition.

John Sparks
You know you mentioned seasonal flu, and we are approaching the seasonal flu season, and of course the word always goes out that people should get inoculated.  Should people get H1N1 shots?

Joe Quimby
Well, first of all, a seasonal flu vaccine is in doctor’s offices now as we speak. I know here in Georgia it’s out, and it’s going to be distributed in the coming days across the country if it’s not already in your doctor’s office.  So, people should first get a seasonal influenza shot.  80% of the Americans fall into the groups of people who are recommended for seasonal.  And ,if you are recommended for a 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccine, certainly please get in line. There’s 159 people who are recommended, and people like I talked to before of, with underlying health risk and particularly pregnant women… and healthcare workers and children, school aged children, need to be vaccinated as soon as possible.

John Sparks
You mentioned getting in line, is there enough vaccine for H1N1 for everyone in America that needs it?

Listen to Part 2:

soundboard.com

Joe Quimby
We believe that there’ll be enough vaccine starting in about middle of October.  About 45 million doses will be initially available for those who want to have a vaccine.  Like seasonal influenza, this is a voluntary vaccine program.  So, we believe that with the initial 45 million and then follow-on distributions in the days and weeks that follow and months that follow, that everybody who wants a vaccine should be able to get one.

John Sparks
I know that CDC works in cooperation with city, county, and state health departments on something like this.  I’m just curious what some of these other agencies are doing in preparation for the fear of a pandemic?

Joe Quimby
Well it’s not the fear of a pandemic, we already have a pandemic.  It’s getting ready at all levels has been a top priority at all levels of government.  As you know, the president called for a flu summit, if you would, in the early days of July, and three cabinet secretaries got together along with hundreds of people at state and local and federal levels to begin their plans, if they already hadn’t.  And, I think we’re seeing now with the beginning of schools, some people becoming ill in school settings and colleges and universities, we’re seeing the execution of well played — well laid and planned scenarios to take care of sick people and to keep healthy people healthy.

John Sparks
The last time I remember the country getting this excited about Swine Flu, Gerald Ford was president. I recall lining up at a shopping center and getting a free shot for the Swine Flu.  Are we going to see something of that level again?

Joe Quimby
What we will see will be a combination of things.  We’ve been effectively distributing flu vaccines through primary care providers, different scenarios for decades, and so we’re going to see a combination of vaccine distributed initially to all the states on a prorated basis so that if 4% of the population lives in a particular state, that’s how much of the initial vaccine they’ll get.  And, various states and cities, depending on the population, will adapt and employ different scenarios.  So, the first and foremost thing that people can do to find out about vaccines in their area is to contact their primary care provider; and certainly when H1N1 vaccine becomes available, people are going to know about any public offerings in a community setting, in addition to in their physician setting.

John Sparks
Joe, I know it’s hard to look into a crystal ball and into the future and see what we might expect, but do you have any prediction on what we may experience this flu season in regards to H1N1?

Listen to Part 3:

soundboard.com

Joe Quimby
Actually if I had a crystal ball, it’d be real easy to predict what the flu season would look like, but we don’t have a crystal ball.  What we can say is that flu is very unpredictable.  We just don’t know what the extent of illness will be when you combine a new influenza strain as the 2009 H1N1 influenza combined with an act of seasonal influenza season. Our seasonal flu season is October to May.  We’ve seen the flu activity throughout these past couple months in the summer at unprecedented levels, and not since the pandemic of 1968 have we seen such an active flu activity summer — flu activity in the summer months.

John Sparks
How well would you characterize our preparations?  Are we going to be prepared?

Joe Quimby
Well, I think it’s a little too early for us to give ourselves a report card. I think the report card and any kind of grading of such will come afterwards. But, I believe that – - I know in my heart of hearts that there are 14,000 people here at the CDC, and there are thousands more at the federal level and state level and at schools and cities across the country, in health departments that are ready, have been working really hard and you’re going to see a true combined effort. But, you asked me first what can people do, there is a shared responsibility. It’s not just what the government can do for you, it’s what people can do for themselves to protect themselves against becoming exposed.  Simple things:  Keep your hands washed.  Wash your hands with soap and water often. Use alcohol-based hand gels. If they’re coughing, cough into their elbow and avoid the people who are ill, and if you are ill, stay at home, self-isolate and don’t return back to society, be it school or work environment, until you’re free from fever 24 hours without taking anything to suppress that fever.  So, there’s some — a lot of personal responsibility that each individual in America can be accounted for.

John Sparks
Joe, I appreciate your time. Is there anything else that you’d like to add?

Joe Quimby
No, just that it’s going to be a very unpredictable flu season and that for each American out there to do their part to protect themselves, their children, their parents, and the people that they live, work, and play with and go to school with.  And, if we all work together here, I think we’ll all get through this.  But, it is a combined effort at all levels of government and certainly with the personal efforts of the people.  We don’t know what’s going to happen, but I think you’re going to see a good effort at all levels.

** The views and opinions expressed in this and other interviews found on this site are expressly those of the speakers or authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Marist Poll.

Related Stories:

9/1: Off Guard…Concern About Swine Flu Low Among Americans

9/1: Swine Flu from “Ground Zero”


7/1: Featured Recipe: Megg McKMuffin

July 1, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, Featured, Food, Living

A Recipe by Meghan McKeever

mckmuffins_200_300Breakfast is important. But, then again so is sleep. So, how do you ensure that you get a tasty balanced breakfast, while still allowing yourself those precious extra minutes under the covers? The Megg McKMuffin is my solution. A vegetarian delight, it is packed with protein to stave off hunger (about 13g), and prepared in about 3 minutes in the morning. I first heard of the concept at a Weight Watchers meeting, where they suggested using real eggs and adding turkey sausage or Canadian bacon. I modified it to accommodate my dislike of real eggs and my vegetarian diet. I’ve gotten the preparation down to a science and every few weeks I whip up two or three batches and keep them on hand. Crisis averted with a healthy breakfast and ten more minutes of sleep.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 22 minutes
Makes 6 muffins

Ingredients:

mckmuffins_112 oz. egg substitute (Egg Beaters, although the generics are just as good. I use plain, but you can use any of the varieties)
¼ cup of shredded 2% cheddar cheese
3.5 oz. (¼ of a package) “Gimme Lean” vegetarian ground sausage
2 Tbsp. dried onion
Diced jalapeños to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Whole-grain light English muffin (Thomas’ or some grocery stores have their own brand)

Recommendations:

  • A silicone muffin pan. I experimented with metal pans, Pam, olive oil — anything to make release and cleanup easier — and trust me, unless you want to spend 30 minutes cleaning cooked egg off your metal pan, the silicone muffin pan is the only way to go.
  • Mixing ingredients in a 2-cup measuring cup.
  • You can add any other vegetables to this recipe, but I recommend using only dried vegetables, or cook and squeeze the moisture out of veggies like spinach, mushrooms, and peppers. Any excess moisture will make the tops of the muffins a little watery.

mckmuffins_2Cooking instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. I find the best way to mix these up and eventually pour them, without making too many dirty dishes, is to use a measuring cup as a mixing bowl. Combine Egg Beaters, cheese, onion, jalapeños, other veggies, salt and pepper, in the measuring cup. Using a fork, mash the vegetarian ground sausage on a plate and add to the mixture in forkfuls. Using the fork and a little elbow grease, stir the faux sausage into the egg mixture; it will break up into bits as you mix.

The silicone muffin pan is floppy. (If you try to move the thing full of liquid Megg McKMuffins, you will end up with a very eggy floor.) So before pouring, put the pan on a flat cookie sheet for transport.

Pour the mixture into the muffin pan in equal amounts. As they cook, they fluff up a bit, so fill to just below the rim of the cup.

mckmuffins_3Bake at 350 degrees for 22 minutes.

Allow a few minutes to cool,  Then, run a rubber spatula around the edge of the McKMuffins to release them. Freeze in one layer in a zip-top bag and store flat until frozen.

In the morning:

Defrost one McKMuffin (my microwave does a good job at 50% power for 2:30)
Toast a whole-grain light English muffin.
Enjoy! (with ketchup, or hot sauce, yum!)

mckmuffins_4Related Stories:

7/1: An Experiment of Gastronomical Proportions

7/1: Dining In

7/1: Pizza Pizzazz!

7/1: Cooking with Grandma Ann

6/18: One-Fifth of Americans Currently Lack Health Insurance

Although 79% of Americans report that they have health insurance, a notable proportion — 21% — have at least one member in their household currently without a health plan.

©istockphoto.com/DNY59

©istockphoto.com/DNY59

The fact that money matters is an understatement.  While 97% of Americans making $100,000 a year annually and 87% of those bringing in between $50,000 and $99,999 a year say they have a health plan, just 67% of residents with an annual salary of less than $50,000 are covered.  And, while our country has made great strides in breaking the color barrier, that does not translate into adequate health coverage for minorities.  84% of white residents say they have health insurance while 69% of African Americans and 63% of Latinos report the same.

Younger Americans are far less likely to have health insurance compared with their elders.  Only 53% of those 18 to 29 say they are fully covered.  However, take a look at the proportion of insured as you move up the age spectrum.  81% of those 30 to 44 years old and the same proportion of those 45 to 59 have health insurance.  Nearly all those approaching or at Medicare eligibility — 92% of those 60 and older — have a health plan.

Need to Fill the Gap

Although 79% of Americans report they currently have health insurance that’s not the end of the story.  8% of Americans with health insurance report a time during the last 12 months when someone in their household did not have a health plan.  When that is added to the 21% of residents currently without  health coverage  the proportion of Americans with continuous coverage over the past year slides to 71%.

The bad news doesn’t stop there.  Another 10% of Americans have had to reduce their health plan in the past year in order to lower costs.  All told, only 61% of Americans had continuous coverage over the past year without reducing their benefits due to cost.

Once again, income makes a difference.  Just half of households earning less than $50,000 annually had continuous coverage without a reduction of benefits during the past year.  This compares with 78% of households making $100,000 or more.  African Americans, as a group, are hard hit.  Only 43% of African American households report that everyone in their household had continuous coverage during the past year without seeing a loss of benefits.

Most young adults under thirty do not have steady health care coverage.  Only 35% of adults between 18 and 29 years old had continuous health insurance coverage in the past year without having to further cut benefits to save money.

Table: Summary of Households with Health Insurance

Marist Poll Methodology

Related Stories:

6/18: Health Care in the United States: An In-Depth Look

6/18: Health Care in the United States: An In-Depth Look

June 18, 2009 by  
Filed under Featured, Health Care, Irwin Redlener, Politics

Dr. Irwin Redlener, Co-Founder and President of the Children’s Health Fund, discusses the Marist Poll’s findings on health insurance in the United States and shares his thoughts on President Barack Obama’s health care plan and the future of health care in the country.  Dr. Redlener, also the Director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness, addresses, as well, how ready we are to handle the H1N1 virus, other pandemics, and acts of terrorism.  The transcript of his interview with The Marist Poll’s John Sparks is below.

Dr. Irwin Redlener

Dr. Irwin Redlener

John Sparks
Dr. Redlener, The Marist Poll conducted a survey, and we learned that 21% of households in America have at least someone who is not covered by health insurance.  Now that percentage increases when those households surveyed earned less than $50,000 a year or they’re not college educated or they’re young families or if they fit into a category of ethnic minorities. For instance, 37% of Latino households had someone who’s not covered by health insurance, 31% if it’s an African American household. Do these numbers surprise you?

Listen to the Interview, Part 1:

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Dr. Irwin Redlener
The numbers really reinforce what we’ve been increasingly concerned about over the last almost two and a half decades now. The fact of the matter is that an extraordinary number of Americans are not getting access to healthcare in part because of the fact that so many do not have health insurance, and the costs are now absolutely prohibitive.  So, these numbers are striking, and in a certain sense, they’re what we might expect in these very difficult economic times where access to health insurance has always been problematic anyway.

John Sparks
Now, you worked with Hillary Clinton on that National Healthcare Program that never came to fruition.
A lot of folks, including some in the Obama administration, are working on a new national healthcare program. Will we see something put in place this time, and what do you suppose it will be like?

Listen to Part 2:

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Dr. Irwin Redlener
I am very optimistic that with President Obama’s leadership that we will in fact see a successful effort this time to really re-create our healthcare system, to reform those parts that need fixing, and to reinforce those parts that we’re very good at.  At the end of the day, I think we’ll see very much of an American style reform in place that won’t be perfect from anyone’s point of view but will bring with it many, many improvements that will benefit American families and really help the economy in terms of slowing down the runaway costs associated with healthcare.

John Sparks
You mentioned a program called Doctors for America, which has been active lately in calling for national healthcare.  Can you tell me what efforts they’ve undertaken for this effort?

Dr. Irwin Redlener
There are a number of physician organizations who are really focused on trying to make sure that the American people understand what is involved with trying to fix the nation’s healthcare system, and this is something we did not see back in the early ’90s when the Clintons were attempting to reform healthcare more than 15 years ago.  What we saw then was general resistance by medical groups in terms of trying to fix the system, but what we’re seeing now is that tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of physicians around the country are joining the call to reform the healthcare system because doctors know as well as anyone else, maybe even more acutely, that what we have now is simply not working.  The role of these organizations, Doctors for America, and some of the other organizations like the National Physicians Alliance are out in public now speaking with the media and speaking directly to the public to try to allay some of the anxiety that people have about health reform.  People are perhaps worried that they’re going to lose their ability to choose a physician if we had health reform, or that we’d have a government run system. These are part of the myths that are associated with people that are resisting or are opposing healthcare reform, and these myths have to be dispelled. People have to understand that we’re looking to develop systems that will keep everyone’s ability to choose their physician and their hospital and at the same time do something about the runaway costs.

John Sparks
And speaking of runaway costs, any idea what a program of national healthcare will end up costing, and how we’ll pay for it?

Dr. Irwin Redlener

Right now the healthcare system in the United States costs about $2.3 trillion a year.  It’s around 14.5% of a gross domestic product.  If we don’t do something to curtail these costs, we’re going to see healthcare, if it goes along its current trajectories, reach a level of maybe 20% of the nation’s gross domestic product which would be utterly unsustainable in terms of the economic forces that would ensue.  The investment in the system right now to fix it so that the costs slow down and that we’re able to ring savings out of the, all elements of the system, will still entail putting somebody into the actual measures that will be part of the reform bill so that we have to invest in state-of-the-art electronic health record systems.  We have to invest in developing programs to prevent disease, not just treat it and so forth.  Those costs could be anywhere from 500 billion to a trillion dollars over a ten-year period, and the President and his economic team, congressional leaders, are coming up with ways to identify those costs which we’re going to have to then debate in Congress and in the public and see what will work.

John Sparks
Are you optimistic that this time we’ll end up with something?

Dr. Irwin Redlener
I am actually optimistic that we will end up with some very significant changes in the system that will significantly expand access to healthcare for people and will reduce costs.  In fact, I believe we will get a package that the president will sign within this calendar year, so I would say I’m in the very optimistic category when it comes to prognosticating about where we’re going.

John Sparks
I’d like to change subjects on you for just a moment.  You’re also involved with the National Center for Disaster Preparedness, and I want to ask you about Swine Flu. Can we realistically produce enough vaccine to combat H1N1?

Listen to Part 3:

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Dr. Irwin Redlener
There’s been a great deal of talk obviously and concern about this what’s now being called the novel or new H1N1 virus or what people were originally calling the Swine Flu Virus that originated in Mexico a couple of months ago and is now been spreading rapidly around the world to a point where it spread so much that it’s called an actual pandemic by the World Health Organization, and there’s a lot of things that are being done and could be done to slow the spread, but right now it’s a very mild illness in terms of the potential fatalities that come from it.  That said, we obviously will be needing a vaccine, and the vaccine is being developed as we speak.  What our concern is on a large scale is that if we had to vaccinate many people in a hurry, if let’s say the virus comes back in a more severe form in the Fall and Winter of this year, we’ll really wanting to be vaccinating people. But at the maximum capacity, we could not even produce a billion doses of vaccine, which seems like a huge number, but there’s 6.8 billion people in the world.  So, if we all get is 900 million doses, there’s going to be a substantial gap between those that will be able to get the vaccine and those that won’t, and that’s a big concern.  Secondly, if we put all of our vaccine manufacturing plants on the task of producing a maximum of H1N1 vaccine, that will have the potential of impairing our ability to produce the usual annual influenza vaccine that we still need every year, and don’t forget that seasonal influenza which comes around every year kills about 36,000 Americans every year as well as 250,000 people worldwide.  So, we might be caught between this public health rock and hard place where we need to both work on the seasonal flu but the new pandemic as well.

John Sparks
You mentioned that there’s no way we will be able to produce enough doses.  How will we determine who will get the vaccine, and how many at risk, who will not get the vaccine? Is it the “haves” versus the
“have-not’s?”

Dr. Irwin Redlener
Well one of the most difficult ethical questions we’re going to have is how to distribute a limited amount of vaccine to a very large population around the world who needs it, and I don’t think we have the answers yet, frankly, to that question.   What we… Our guess…  What we are most concerned about is that the nations with limited economic resources, the developing nations, for example, will have far less opportunity to buy or produce the vaccine so that we’ll have a situation where the so called “haves” of the world, the developed nations, may have more than their fair share of the vaccine, and the “have-not” or the poor countries be really suffering because they simply can’t get their hands on enough material to vaccinate all of their citizens. That will have significant political and economic repercussions however.

John Sparks
You know when I think about disaster preparedness, certainly the H1N1 falls under that category.  But I was in New York City for 9/11 and in that,of course, we came to the realization of the potential for other acts of terrorism that could certainly tax our American hospitals.  Just how well equipped are our hospitals today to respond to a pandemic or an act of terrorism?

Dr. Irwin Redlener
This is a fascinating question that we have been wrestling.  My center is the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at what’s called the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, so we actually have been focusing a lot of our energy on trying to analyze the state of readiness of the nation’s hospitals to respond to a pandemic or nuclear terrorism or even another Katrina-like Hurricane.  And, what we and others have consistently found is that while we’re making advances on the public health side, in other words, the ability to track things like pandemics and to follow disease patterns to produce vaccine, we’re getting better at that.  But, what’s now improved very much is the capacity of the nation’s hospitals and healthcare systems to respond or to surge up, to increase capacity if a major event happened.  That problem has been something that we’ve been working on hard, but if we don’t fix it, we may come to regret the fact that we haven’t invested enough in improving hospital readiness prior to the next big event, which inevitably will happen.

John Sparks
Is it a matter of needing more hospitals and more people entering the healthcare profession, or is it simply a matter of trying to ramp up those facilities that we do have?

Dr. Irwin Redlener
The health professional workforce issue is a big challenge, and we do have to ramp that up, and we have to get more people into primary care and that sort of thing. Right now, we have lots of doctors, but poorly distributed, because some communities have lots of doctors, others have none, so there’s some other areas in the background.  But, what we need is the capacity that if something big were to happen in Chicago or LA or the whole country next month, that the system can’t expand enough to take care for the numbers of victims and people needing medical care that we might imagine.  Now, there’s not that many scenarios where large numbers of people would get sick or injured in a short period of time, but you could think of a big earthquake on the West Coast, another Katrina-type situation in the Southeast, nuclear terrorism, and I mean actually a nuclear bomb, not just a dirty weapon in New York or Washington, D.C. or Los Angeles, and when you start thinking about these large, what I call mega events is or mega disasters, we remain concerned that the system doesn’t have enough depth to really be able to respond in a large scale way when we need it.

John Sparks
You know if all this isn’t enough to be concerned about, there is a recession and its effect on healthcare in this country, you referenced it earlier.  We read about losses in the stock market.  We read about huge corporations like General Motors who are not good health, but what is the cost of human health as a
fallout from the recession?

Listen to Part 4:

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Dr. Irwin Redlener
This has been very interesting for us to observe — the reporting of the recession as it became more and more severe starting with late 2007 and of course, continuing on through this moment.  Most of the descriptions about the economic downturn were written in financial terms, so we’re talking about a banking crisis, subprime mortgages, uncontrolled derivative markets, and so forth.  What we heard very little about though, was the human cost and the human toll and in particular with children.  So, the Children’s Health Fund a couple of months ago came up with a new initiative called Kids Can’t Wait, and the point of Kids Can’t Wait is to really underscore how badly affected low income families and children are and have been because of this economic downturn. We think on the one hand, this is bad for the banks, it’s bad for our pensions and so forth, but it’s desperately dangerous for people at the lower end where there’s not a lot of disposable income and what income there is needed to go to the doctor or buy groceries or pay the rent or whatever and those people and therefore those children, are being greatly affected, and we really need to put them back on center stage so we can make sure that they aren’t hurt anymore than they already are.

John Sparks
Any idea of a number how many children have lost healthcare?

Dr. Irwin Redlener
Since 2007, we think about a million children have lost healthcare, which parallels the loss that they’re — that families are taking and parallels the loss that is incurred by unemployment, loss of a job.  So, as we track that over this period of time, I believe there’s at least a million kids who are, as a result of these larger economic forces and as a result of the breadwinners of the family losing their jobs or having their jobs greatly reduced, that we’re seeing a very serious downside for children as well.

John Sparks
In talking about some of these challenges with our healthcare, there are moral issues.  We’ve talked about cost control issues, and yet, we need a robust healthcare system. Do you think we’ll be able to meet all those challenges, and what are the implications if we’re not able to?

Dr. Irwin Redlener
Well, we’re facing, as you allude to, a vast array of seemingly overwhelming problems from dealing with the recession, the healthcare crisis to the environment, energy, and a very long agenda on our international challenges as well.  The point about all this is that we can’t do, even though as much as we might want to, we just simply cannot take things on sequentially, because the world doesn’t work like that, and we have to be in a sense as a nation multitasking because all of this is important to the nation’s future, in some cases the world’s future and the world’s future well being.  So, taking care  of our children’s needs, worrying about global warming and figure on how to become energy independent are all part of a complex set of agendas that have to be taken on almost — unfortunately, almost at the same time.

John Sparks
It’s not an easy world we live in.  Dr. Redlener, I want to thank you for your time.  But before you go is there anything that you’d like to comment on?

Dr. Irwin Redlener
I think it’s difficult for people in a day and age like this to understand how serious the problems are we’re facing and in many ways without overusing this term, a lot of these challenges are pretty — are unprecedented in a real way, the amount of debt that the country is building up, the degree to which the healthcare expenses and costs are getting more and more out-of-control, the intensity of our international challenges, it all is big time.  But all that said, the reason I bring this up is to make a point that I think there’s also reason to be optimistic.  I think we can get control in the healthcare system. I think we could do a better job than we’re doing on virtually all the areas that we’re talking about, and I think we’re fortunate that we have an administration that is smart, is well led, it’s organized, and while it’s tackling a lot, I personally am optimistic that we’re going to find some way out of this briar patch sometime in the next few years.

** The views and opinions expressed in this and other interviews found on this site are expressly those of the speakers or authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Marist Poll.

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Feasting for Less

March 30, 2009 by  
Filed under Food, Food Pantry, Living

These tough economic times require cost-conscious measures, but when it comes to the dinner table, a majority of Americans try not to end up being penny-wise and pound foolish.  In a March 2009 Marist Poll, 54% of Americans tell us they look for healthy alternatives in their everyday dinner recipes.  26% say their top recipe priority is its affordability, followed by 13% who want it to be fast, and 7% who need it to be kid-friendly.

©istockphoto.com/kkgas

©istockphoto.com/kkgas

However, money does matter.  Households with a family income of less than $50,000 divide: 45% look for a recipe that is healthy but 40% say their top priority is affordability.  This compares with 60% of families with an income of $100,000 or more who weigh healthy options highest.

And, as we age, concern with cost and speed declines and the value of healthy choices in the recipes we choose increases.

Everyday Recipe Table

Marist Poll Methodology

Related Links:

Nutrition Data:  Know What You Eathttp://www.nutritiondata.com/

http://www.nutritiondata.com/topics/recipes

Dietary Guidelines for Americanshttp://www.health.gov/DietaryGuidelines/

http://www.mypyramid.gov/

Healthy and affordable:  Recipeshttp://healthyrecipes.oregonstate.edu

Healthy and affordable:  Money saving tipshttp://healthyrecipes.oregonstate.edu/stretching-food-dollars

Healthy dinner ideas from the Food Networkhttp://www.foodnetwork.com/ellies-healthy-dinner-ideas/video/index.html

Looking Ahead to 2009: New Year’s Resolutions & Expectations

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Filed under Living, Polls for Fun

While a notable number of Americans plan to make a New Year’s resolution this year, a majority — 60% — say it is not likely at all that they will pledge to change in 2009. That’s compared with 40% who report it’s very likely or somewhat likely they will turn over a new leaf. Those results are mostly unchanged from last year. Slightly more women than men are likely to adjust their way of life. 44% of women versus 37% of men say there’s a good chance they will make a New Year’s resolution this year. Compared with last year, though, the number of women wanting to revamp an aspect of their life drops from 49%.

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What’s the Skinny on Happiness? Exactly That … Being Thin

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Filed under Uncategorized

Many people in the New York area think the secret to happiness and success in life is being thin: 62% of adults living in the New York metropolitan area think people who are thin are more likely to be happier than people who are overweight, and 70% believe those who are thin are more likely to be successful in life. This view is shared by men and women, young and old alike. Even a majority of people who consider themselves to be overweight think a person who is thin is more likely to be happier and more successful than someone who isn’t.

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