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News and Notes   |    
News Briefs
Psychiatric Services 2009; doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.60.4.562
An erratum to this article has been published | view the erratum
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IOM report on health insurance crisis: Having health insurance is essential for health and well-being. Safety net services, such as charity care and free emergency care, are not enough, according to a new report from the IOM. The 160-page report provides an independent assessment of published studies and surveys on the consequences of not having insurance. It presents new findings indicating that when a community has a high rate of uninsured residents, the financial impact on providers may be large enough to affect the availability, quality, and cost of services for everyone, even people who have insurance. In 2007 nearly one in ten children and one in five nonelderly adults had no health insurance. The average amount employees paid per year for family coverage in an employer-sponsored plan rose from $1,543 in 1999 to $3,354 in 2008. The report calls on the President and Congress to begin efforts immediately to achieve health coverage for all Americans by 2010. America's Uninsured Crisis: Consequences for Health and Health Care, which was sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, was written by a committee of experts in medical care, emergency medicine, health policy, business, economics, and health research. It is available from the National Academies Press www.nap.edu. A podcast of the public briefing held to release thiereport is available at nationalacademies.org/podcast.

Kaiser fact sheet on stimulus package and health care: A new fact sheet from the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured examines assistance for Medicaid programs and key health provisions in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that President Obama signed into law on February 17, 2009. Subjects covered include the temporary increase in federal matching money for state Medicaid programs, subsidies for COBRA health coverage for laid-off workers, and funding for health information technology. The three-page document summarizes other health care provisions in the stimulus package, such as $10 billion for the National Institutes of Health, $2 billion for community health centers, and $1.1 billion for comparative effectiveness research. The fact sheet is available on the commission's Web site at www.kff.org/medicaid, where an interactive state map provides dollar estimates of additional federal allocations for Medicaid costs.

NIMH expert panel report on smoking and mental illness: Numerous biological, psychological, and social factors are likely to play a role in high rates of smoking among persons with psychiatric disorders, according to an expert panel convened by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). The panel's report reviews current literature and identifies areas for research needed to clarify these factors and their interactions and to improve smoking cessation treatment. About 40% of people with psychiatric illnesses smoke—nearly twice the rate among persons without psychiatric diagnoses (22.5%). Rates are as high as 85% among individuals with schizophrenia. People with psychiatric disorders consume 44% of all cigarettes smoked in the United States. Smoking is an important factor in increased morbidity and mortality in this group. The report includes several recommendations related to smoking cessation in this population: the need for adequate sample sizes in cessation trials, greater emphasis on adapting cessation treatment to diagnostic subgroups and to a variety of treatment settings, and the need for research on how tobacco control polices affect psychiatric populations. The report will be posted on the NIMH Web site at www.nimh.nih.gov.

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