News Coverage

Federal funding cut to teen pregnancy prevention programs will hurt Baltimore, health commissioner says (BaltimoreSun)

The Trump administration’s decision to cut short a grant program that would have spent $214 million to support teen pregnancy prevention programs will have far-reaching consequences in cities across the United States, including Baltimore. After the program ends next June, the city will lose the equivalent of $3.5 million in funding for a variety of programs aimed at curtailing unintended teen pregnancies. Another $880,000 grant funds research at Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health to evaluate a program to reduce sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy among American Indian teens, City Health Commissioner Leana Wen called the decision shocking and “unprecedented.” “We have not ever received a cut to an existing program without explanation, and when the funds were readily available,” she said.

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An Assault on Efforts to Prevent Teenage Pregnancy (NyTimes)

With flimsy justification, and in small type buried in routine documents, the Trump administration has informed 81 local governments and health groups that it will end grants they have received to run teen pregnancy prevention programs, two years before the grants are scheduled to end. The decision is unsettling even by the disquieting standards of this anti-science administration.

The rate at which teenagers have babies in the United States fell by nearly 50 percent between 2007 and 2015, though it is still higher than in other industrialized countries. A lot of the credit for the decline belongs to health and education officials who have been coming up with new approaches to educate young people about sex and get them to make better decisions. One such effort was the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, created by Congress and implemented by the Obama administration in 2010. It provides five-year grants, in annual distributions, to cities, counties and health organizations to operate and evaluate public health programs aimed at teenagers. Funding for a second round of grants began in 2015, but it will now expire in 2018 instead of 2020.

The department that runs the program, Health and Human Services, made no effort initially to explain its decision, which was tucked into a routine grant letter earlier this summer. The decision came before Congress has even voted on appropriations for the next fiscal year, which begins in October. By cutting the grants short, the department is depriving recipients of about $200 million.

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Abrupt Trump cuts to teen pregnancy program surprise groups (The Hill)

The Trump administration has abruptly cut short grant programs aimed at ending teen pregnancy, leaving the institutions that receive the funds scrambling for answers. 

An office within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) notified 81 institutions across the U.S. that the five-year grants they were awarded would end two years sooner than planned.

The Teen Pregnancy Prevention (TPP) program, a national program created in 2010 under former President Barack Obama, funds organizations working to reduce and prevent teen pregnancy, with a focus on reaching populations with the greatest need.

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How many more Americans must die before Trump declares a state of emergency? (The Hill)


Earlier this week, President Trump tweeted that he will be holding “a major briefing on the opioid crisis, a major problem for our country.” Many of us in the public health community held out hope that this briefing would include a declaration of a national state of emergency, as recommended by the president’s own Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis.

No such declaration was made. At a time when 142 Americans per day die from overdose, it begs the question: How much worse does this epidemic need to get before it rises to the level of an emergency? Imagine if there were 142 people dying every day from a disease like Ebola or a natural disaster like a hurricane — there would be no question about the necessity of such a declaration.

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Trump and Price Meet to Discuss Opioid Abuse (CQ HEALTHBEAT NEWS)

President Donald Trump will hold off on declaring a national emergency on opioid abuse, the administration's top health official said Tuesday. While an emergency declaration could make it easier to spend money on the crisis, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price told reporters that the administration thinks it has the resources it needs to address the issue at the moment.

While Price said that Trump considers the situation an emergency and that the formal declaration was still an option, he said the situation "can be addressed without a declaration of an emergency, although all things are on the table for the President."

Critics decry Trump gutting teen pregnancy prevention grants (Washington Times)

The Trump administration is cutting short a batch of Teen Pregnancy Prevention grants, angering big-city health department chiefs who said Wednesday they will no longer be able to figure out what’s working to cut pregnancy rates.

What was supposed to be a five-year grant is being cut to three years, meaning funding will dry up in 2018 — leaving 81 grantees scrambling.

For instance, Seattle and King County schools in Washington wanted to know whether their sexed curriculum, known as FLASH, caused students to delay having sex or whether those who did used condoms or other forms of birth control.

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Big city health officials decry Trump administration’s cuts to teen pregnancy prevention programs (Washington Post)

The federal funding was curtailed last month without explanation and without warning: $214 million for teen pregnancy prevention programs across the country.


The city of Baltimore lost $3.5 million, money that Health Commissioner Leana Wen said had supported classes in anatomy and physiology and counseling in social and emotional issues related to sex for 20,000 teens, plus training for 115 teachers. She worries what the loss of funds will mean for local teen pregnancy rates, which already are twice as high as the state's and much higher than the U.S. average.


“This is a central health issue for thousands of vulnerable teens,” she said. “What is going to be the downstream effect on society?”

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Big city health officials decry Trump administration’s cuts to teen pregnancy prevention programs (Washington Post)

The federal funding was curtailed last month without explanation and without warning: $214 million for teen pregnancy prevention programs across the country.


The city of Baltimore lost $3.5 million, money that Health Commissioner Leana Wen said had supported classes in anatomy and physiology and counseling in social and emotional issues related to sex for 20,000 teens, plus training for 115 teachers. She worries what the loss of funds will mean for local teen pregnancy rates, which already are twice as high as the state's and much higher than the U.S. average.


“This is a central health issue for thousands of vulnerable teens,” she said. “What is going to be the downstream effect on society?”

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Baltimore is Redesigning Access to Healthy Food (EfficientGov)

The Baltimore Health Department is increasing seniors’ and low-income families’ access to healthy food through corner stores and free online shopping.

Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen told WYPR Healthwatch that one in four of the city’s senior citizens lives in a food desert. Because food choice “is predicated on privilege,” the city’s health department has been working on two programs that increase senior access to healthy food, the Virtual Supermarket and Healthy Corner Stores programs.

Both programs are expanding in part to a $750,000 grant from the AARP Foundation as well as $150,000 from the Maryland Community Health Resources Commission in 2017.

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Fentanyl-intoxication deaths in Baltimore double in first quarter of 2017 (ABC2)

For the first time ever, the number of fentanyl-related deaths in the state are more than heroin-related ones.
It’s impacting the most people in Baltimore.

In a city that’s in the midst of an epidemic of violence. There’s another crisis – fentanyl.

The numbers, at first glance, are staggering – 123 fentanyl intoxication deaths from January to March of this year in Baltimore, a third of the fentanyl related deaths in the state.

“Even patients have no clue of the substance that they’re using, how toxic it is, and how fatal it is,” Nurse Practitioner Marian Currens said.

Fatalities, she says, that are skyrocketing.

She wears multiple hats on the front lines of the heroin and fentanyl crisis at the University of Maryland Medical Center’s Midtown campus.

The Maryland Health Department reports the number of deaths from fentanyl in the first quarter of the year are the highest they’ve been in 10 years.

It’s a problem impacting decision makers and those who see the epidemic first hand like Currens.

“This past weekend, another patient who was seemingly doing well, had a mishap died – needle in his arm. He left a wife and two young children,” she said.

It’s why Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen wants to a holistic approach to the problem, saying a quick fix won’t patch the state’s gaping wound.

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