Ages in Congress, from the 1st to the 115th

As I watched Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai field questions from the House Judiciary Committee it was hard not to feel like there was a big gap in how the internet works and how members of Congress think it works. Many suggested the gap was related to age, so I couldn’t help but wonder how the age distribution has changed over the years.

You can see the median age shifting older, but I’m not totally sure what to make of it. After all, the population as a whole is getting older too. On the other hand, the internet changed a lot of things in our lives, and the hope is that those forming the policies understand the ins and outs.

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Oldest Homo sapiens a “nothingburger”? Plus US health care policy approaches The End

0000-0002-8715-2896 Oldest Homo sapiens a “nothingburger”? Plus top journos blast secrecy on health care law   Posted June 16, 2017 by Tabitha M. Powledge in Uncategorized post-info AddThis Sharing Buttons above OLDEST HOMO SAPIENS? It’s

APHL urged action on Zika but Congress didn’t listen

APHL urged action on Zika but Congress didn't listen | www.APHLblog.org

By Peter Kyriacopoulos, senior director of public policy, APHL

On January 11, 2016, APHL first expressed concern about the public health implications of Zika virus – then a practically unheard-of disease – to Capitol Hill leadership staff. Many in public health were expecting Zika to burst forth on the scene, largely because of the newly identified complications for pregnant women. In the months since, these health complications have become better understood. For the first time in over 50 years, we are faced with a virus that, when passed from a pregnant woman to her unborn baby, can cause severe birth defects including microcephaly. As anticipated, concern has grown rapidly.

APHL joined a broad coalition to inform and educate Congressional staff on the need to provide additional, designated federal funding for an effective public health response. We participated in over 60 Zika events, consistently delivering the message that the public health laboratory component of Zika response is critical to protecting population health and cannot be done using existing resources. We have been more active on Capitol Hill advocating for Zika preparedness and response than on all other public health emergencies combined.

The laboratory aspect is extraordinarily complicated for Zika. The testing burden falls heavily on public health laboratories because, in addition to specimens sent directly to public health labs for testing, most private sector laboratory results – positive and negative – must also be confirmed by a public health lab.

Despite the work of APHL and other partners, key House and Senate offices turned a deaf ear to the Zika response approach recommended by experts from CDC and NIH. Instead, Congress produced a funding bill that re-directs existing federal public health funds away from their intended (and necessary) purpose and toward Zika in a way that they decided would be effective. In addition, some in Congress added unrelated controversial policy amendments called “riders” to the funding bill. Making matters worse, the final compromise version of the bill was produced without any involvement by Democrats in the House or Senate, which has created an additional layer of legislative process objections that make it highly unlikely that the Senate will ever vote on this Zika response bill.

As Congress remains deadlocked, Zika continues to move forward. On July 22, 2016 – six months after those initial January meetings – New York City health officials stood in the lobby of the city’s public health laboratory and announced the birth of its first baby with microcephaly caused by Zika. The mother was infected while traveling.

The sad announcement by officials in New York City is the harbinger of similar statements that will come from many state and local jurisdictions as the summer progresses. Even sadder, Congress left for the summer break and cannot act to produce a Zika response bill that would, at a minimum, provide some measure of hope of reducing Zika transmission and all of its terrible health outcomes.

Wanted: Leadership

In the wake of Chris Christie and Rand Paul pandering to the anti-vaccine crowd using bankrupt personal liberty rhetoric (coherent libertarian ideology requires one to admit that externalities* exist), Sarah Despres, former Congressional staffer, connects Congress’ abdication of leadership on the vital health initiative of vaccinations for political expediency to the current revival of measles as something parents have to fear:

Few legislators were prepared to stand up for science…As for the others, the antivaccine evidence presented might have been shaky, but the science is complicated. And most members of Congress — on the committee and off — did not feel comfortable opposing the advocates and parents armed with heartbreaking stories of children whose autism seemed to come on just after they received their routine immunizations.
-Sarah Despres in Politico Magazine

*The economic version of the basic concept parents not named Ron Paul teach their children that their actions affect other people and that you are responsible for the effects of those actions.


Filed under: This Mortal Coil Tagged: congress, immunization, Linkonomicon, Politico, Sarah Despres, Vaccination, vaccines