New report: Pa’s public health outcomes ‘generally lag’ the rest of the U.S. | Thursday Morning Coffee

Photo by jeffreyw, WikiMedia Commons.

Good Thursday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

Okay, so look, we’re Pennsylvanians. We like a bunch of stuff that’s spectacularly bad for us: Cheesesteaks, Pittsburgh steak salads, scrapple, Taylor Pork Roll, Old Forge Pizza, incredibly overrated but tasteless sandwiches with french fries and coleslaw that only tourists eat, every candy ever made in Altoona, every ice cream at the Penn State creamery.

You get the idea.

But diets, just like elections, have consequences. Boy do they.

According to a new study by The Trust for America’s Health, Pennsylvania, with a population of 12.81 million people, is one Yuengling away from a very serious reckoning:

“Pennsylvania’s public health outcomes generally lag those of the United States, and it has not taken several steps that would strengthen its preparedness for public health emergencies,” the report reads. “Deaths owed to drug misuse, alcohol, or suicide outpace the country as a whole. Its rates of obesity and related conditions indicate an area of concern, with the percentage of adults with obesity higher than the U.S. median, as rates of diabetes and hypertension rank high. Finally, the state achieved a score of four out of a possible 10 measures of public health preparedness for diseases, disasters, and bioterrorism.”

Nationally, the report paints a mixed picture:

“The 2019 report finds that states have made progress in key areas, including public health funding and participation in provider compacts and coalitions. However, performance in other areas—such as flu vaccination, hospital patient safety, and paid time off for workers—has stalled or lost ground,” it reads.

So, all kidding aside: There’s some pretty sobering news in there. And it’s nothing that should come as a surprise to anyone who’s paid attention to the headlines over the last couple of years.

While state officials have made some progress, Pennsylvania’s opioid abuse epidemic continues to exact a deadly toll. The Wolf administration, working in concert with Republican lawmakers in the General Assembly, has made progress in fighting this public health scourge. But there’s still plenty of work left to do.

Sometimes it takes a moment of levity to remind us of the gravity of the challenge we face, and to remind us that we can’t let down our guard. And it’s a shared responsibility.

Our Stuff:
The Capital-Star’s Elizabeth Hardison and Stephen Caruso boil down the coming debate over whether lawmakers should prop up Pennsylvania’s nuclear industry.

Caruso takes a closer look at a plan to tax video games in an effort to stem school violence.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro told a state House panel that Pa. needs universal background checks, Sarah Anne Hughes reports. She also found Auditor General Eugene DePasquale running afoul of one GOP member of the House Appropriations Committee.

Denied last year, State House Speaker Mike Turzaiis taking another run at a controversial abortion ban bill.

On the Opinion side of the House, we mark the first anniversary of the deadly shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., by letting the survivors have their say in a moving piece.

And Shira Goodman of CeaseFirePa has her own ideas of how lawmakers can best honor the memory of the Parkland victims and live up to the demands of the survivors.

Elsewhere:
The former head of the Pa. Senate security force resigned because of sexual harassment allegations. The state is still paying his legal bills, The Inquirer reports.

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman’s second stop on his Legalize It listening tour was top-heavy with supporters, PennLive reports.

Speakers at a public hearing lamented the coming breakup between Highmark and UPMCThe Post-Gazette reports.

The Tribune-Review looks at the Wolf administration’s renewed effort to get communities to pay for state police coverage. You can watch Wolf’s full budget address here.A year after Parkland, here’s what it’s like to be a student in a Lehigh Valley schoolThe Morning Call has the story.

Here’s your #Philadelphia Instagram of the Day:

The Post-Gazette’s newsroom union has filed an unfair labor practice grievanceagainst the newspaper’s publisher, The Incline reports.

WHYY-FM also has a look at that plan to tax violent video games.

Stateline.org wants you to pay attention to this opioids lawsuit in Oklahoma.

President Trump’s re-election campaign is zeroing in on these three likely Democratic challengersPolitico reports.

A year after Parkland, gun-control advocates are looking ahead to 2020Roll Callreports.

WolfWatch.
Gov. Tom Wolf keeps it close to home this Thursday. At 10 a.m., he’s in Hershey to announce “a bipartisan funding plan to support farmers.” And at noon, he’ll attend the annual Inter-Agency Black History Month celebration at The Forum in Harrisburg.

What Goes On.
Budget hearings roll on before the House Appropriations Committee. All meetings are in 140 Main Capitol.
10 a.m.: Dept. of Environmental Protection
1 p.m.: Dept. of Conservation & Natural Resources
3 p.m.: Dept. of Labor & Industry

Heavy Rotation.
Here’s one from former Smiths’ guitarist Johnny Marr, who’s well into a second or third flowering as a solo artist. From 2013’s “The Messenger,” it’s “Upstarts.”

Thursday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link.
Pittsburgh beat Edmonton 3-1 at home on Wednesday. The Pens are 6-0 against the Oilers when stars Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid are in the lineup.

And now you’re up to date.

An award-winning political journalist with more than 25 years' experience in the news business, John L. Micek is The Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. Before joining The Capital-Star, Micek spent six years as Opinion Editor at PennLive/The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa., where he helped shape and lead a multiple-award-winning Opinion section for one of Pennsylvania's most-visited news websites. Prior to that, he spent 13 years covering Pennsylvania government and politics for The Morning Call of Allentown, Pa. His career has also included stints covering Congress, Chicago City Hall and more municipal meetings than he could ever count, Micek contributes regular analysis and commentary to a host of broadcast outlets, including CTV-News in Canada and talkRadio in London, U.K., as well as "Face the State" on CBS-21 in Harrisburg, Pa.; "Pennsylvania Newsmakers" on WGAL-8 in Lancaster, Pa., and the Pennsylvania Cable Network. His weekly column on American politics is syndicated nationwide to more than 800 newspapers by Cagle Syndicate.

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