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Biden Administration Housing Supply Action Plan Addresses Rising Housing Costs

Biden Administration Housing Supply Action Plan Addresses Rising Housing Costs

The current skyrocketing housing costs in the United States are contributing to the skyrocketing inflation, which the Biden Administration has indicated is the highest economic priority at this time. While rising home prices were exacerbated by supply chain and labor shortages caused by the pandemic, the issue actually started after the housing market crash in 2008 when new home construction projects dropped significantly. Today’s prices are due to a significant shortage in available housing, and the Housing Supply Action Plan recently announced by the Biden Administration aims to help relieve Americans of the burden of rising costs.

The Housing Supply Action Plan includes concrete steps toward reducing the barriers to make affordable housing available. Each of the overall strategies listed below are further detailed in the full press release from the White House, including immediate steps that will be taken by the Biden Administration as well as steps Congress is called on to push forward. Many of these strategies have bipartisan support and address issues prevalent in urban, suburban, rural, and Tribal areas.

  • Reduce regulatory barriers to housing production, such as zoning and land use policies, that artificially limit economic growth.
  • Make low-cost financing available for developers of new construction and rehabilitation of affordable housing units.
  • Encourage single-family owner-occupant purchases of homes and limit home purchases by large investors.
  • Mitigate rising material costs and labor supply shortages.

The Administration aims to stabilize housing costs within the next five years with the Housing Supply Action Plan. In the short term, the goal for 2022 is to complete construction of the most new homes of any year since 2006.

NIH Publishes Consensus Study Report: Measuring Sex, Gender Identity, and Sexual Orientation

NIH Publishes Consensus Study Report: Measuring Sex, Gender Identity, and Sexual Orientation

As the visibility of transgender and intersex populations increases in the public awareness, there is also a need to address the challenges of accurately understanding and communicating the complexities of sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation in research. At the request of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a committee was established by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to study current methodologies related to sex, gender, and sexual orientation.

The resulting recently released report, Measuring Sex, Gender Identity, and Sexual Orientation, provides specific recommendations for more robust practices in collecting data on sex, gender, and sexual orientation in order to more accurately capture the complexity of these concepts and people’s experiences within the LGBTQI+ and other sex, gender, and sexual orientation minority populations.

The guiding principles detailed in the report promote accurate representation in data collection instruments, precise terminology, ability for people to self-identify, collection only of necessary data, and maintaining privacy and confidentiality.

The report advocates for standardized terminology as a foundation for data collection. Sex and gender are often merged into a single concept, which is inaccurate, non-inclusive, and does not capture the full complexity of people’s experiences and identities. The report defines several terms related to the concepts of sex and gender, including the intertribal term “Two-Spirit,” which is reserved for use by Indigenous people as an English approximation of similar but culturally specific concepts.

The report indicates that a two-step gender measure is preferred, including both the sex assigned at birth and current gender identity. It is also important to note, according to the report, that the sex assigned at birth may not accurately reflect a person’s biological sex as intersex traits often are not discovered until later in life. The report recommends a separate measure of intersex status, not simply a third option when recording sex.

While sexual orientation is a fairly widely studied concept at this point, it is dependent upon accurate representation of sex and gender identity, so data related to sexual orientation may change as standardized practices increase accuracy of all three concepts.

The full report is now available in prepublication with the final edited version coming in the near future. As researchers adopt these improved practices, the improved data quality can help the NIH and other organizations more fully understand the challenges LGBTQI+ populations face in accessing equitable treatment in health care and other areas of their lives.

CDC Reports That STD Cases Continued to Rise During First Year of COVID-19 Pandemic

CDC Reports That STD Cases Continued to Rise During First Year of COVID-19 Pandemic

Sexually transmitted disease (STD) infections in the United States continued to rise in 2020, with cases of gonorrhea and syphilis in particular surpassing their 2019 levels. Apparent declines in total reported STDs early in the year were likely driven by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, which disrupted STD surveillance and treatment efforts across the country and continues to impact our healthcare system.

According to a report released this month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2.4 million cases of STDs were reported in the U.S. in 2020. Congenital syphilis saw the most dramatic increase, with cases rising by almost 15 percent since 2019 and by 235 percent since 2016, while gonorrhea and primary and secondary syphilis cases increased by 10 percent and 7 percent from 2019, respectively. The report also found that some racial and ethnic minority groups, gay and bisexual men, and young people continue to experience higher rates of STDs.

Reported cases of chlamydia fell by 13 percent, however, while overall STD cases fell dramatically in the early months of 2020. According to the report, these apparent declines were likely driven not by an actual reduction in new infections but rather by the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to reductions in STD screenings by providers, caused resource and supply shortages, and led many patients to delay or avoid making healthcare visits.

“There were moments in 2020 when it felt like the world was standing still,” according to Dr. Jonathan Mermin, Director of CDC’s National Center for HIV, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention. “But STDs weren’t. The unrelenting momentum of the STD epidemic continued even as STD prevention services were disrupted.”

To read the full CDC report, visit https://www.cdc.gov/std/statistics/2020/default.htm.

NEMSIS Is a Valuable Resource for Both EMS Practitioners and Researchers

NEMSIS Is a Valuable Resource for Both EMS Practitioners and Researchers

The National Emergency Medical Services Information System (NEMSIS) strives to overcome the problems associated with aggregating complex data collected on the ground from widely dispersed, decentralized sources. The NEMSIS standard creates a uniform structure and language, as well as a central repository, for data reporting from emergency management services (EMS) agencies across the country. NEMSIS is managed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Office of EMS in partnership with the University of Utah, which hosts the Technical Assistance Center.

NEMSIS data cover a large portion of available EMS data in the country; the 2020 dataset contains approximately 43.5 million observations from 12,319 participating agencies from 50 States and territories. Each observation represents an EMS “activation” resulting from an emergency 911 call. In a situation where multiple agencies responded to a particular event, a single patient could be represented in multiple activations. For NEMSIS version 3.5.0, released in 2021, there are 640 data elements which share a common definition across all reporting agencies. Elements of the database include patient and agency information, incident location, patient vitals, injury type, and patient outcome. The NEMSIS data standard consists of three main datasets: EMS (comprised of electronic patient care records), Demographic (which contains information on the reporting agency), and StateDataSet (which contains State-specific information).

NEMSIS not only incorporates the benefits of standardizing these data, but it also allows for significant flexibility at the State and local levels. The standard consists of three levels, allowing for the creation of local, State, and national databases. Data elements are also categorized as mandatory, required, recommended, or optional, giving local-level practitioners and State data managers the opportunity to modify the format to fit their unique needs. Stakeholders at the local and State levels can select which NEMSIS elements, in addition to the national elements, are best suited for measuring patient outcomes the effectiveness of EMS in their areas. States also have the ability to set inclusion criteria for reported as an EMS activation.

Despite its benefits, the NEMSIS database does face several limitations for use in research. While the dataset covers a large portion of available EMS data, it is not a completely representative sample of the entire Nation due to biases in the data reporting process. The NEMSIS Technical Assistance Center states that the database “probably includes a disproportionate number of EMS agencies with the resources and leadership necessary to be an adopter of the NEMSIS standard.” Furthermore, NEMSIS data can suffer from selection bias due to the flexibility afforded to state and local stakeholders. Primarily, differencing inclusion criteria may skew measurements of different types of events when comparing jurisdictions.

Regardless, the NEMSIS data support a wide range of medical and public health research. NEMSIS data have been used to analyze responses related to many types of medical conditions and emergency situations, such as cardiac arrest, strokes, opioid overdoses, behavioral health emergencies, motor vehicle crashes, and Covid-19 mortality. NEMSIS data have also supported research on broader issues such as Medicaid expansion, gun violence, mental health issues stemming from COVID-19, and healthcare disparities in rural and minority communities.

NIH Launches a New Scientific Data Sharing Website

NIH Launches a New Scientific Data Sharing Website

In its commitment to making the research it funds available to the public, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has launched a new website: NIH Scientific Data Sharing.

On this site, users can find the following information conveyed through step-by-step guides, infographics, and customizable search tools:

    • Scientific data from NIH-affiliated repositories.
    • Which sharing policies apply to specific types of research.
    • How to comply with sharing policies.

This site serves as a central portal to easily search for and access information on NIH-affiliated sharing policies and data repositories. NIH is committed to maximizing the appropriate sharing of scientific data.

There is an easy-to-use decision-making tool to help researchers understand which policies apply to their specific research as well as a tool to help users identify NIH-supported Scientific Data Repositories relevant to their work.

The site is open, and you can now view a 3-minute walk-through of some of the major features. NIH welcomes feedback on the site and will continue to update it with additional resources and training materials, particularly in preparation for the new NIH Data Management and Sharing Policy going into effect for applications due on or after January 25, 2023.

Econometrica Celebrates Women’s History Month

Econometrica Celebrates Women’s History Month

As the end of Women’s History Month draws near, Econometrica wants to take this opportunity to spotlight one of our exceptional leaders, Dr. Kristie McNealy, who leads the Health Group at Econometrica, managing people, projects, and business development.

Dr. McNealy has been with Econometrica since 2013, using her skills and knowledge as a medical doctor (MD), Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality (CPHQ), and a Project Management Professional (PMP) to lead multiple projects measuring and improving the quality of care for patients.

While she has extensive technical knowledge in clinical quality measurement, alternative payment models, qualitative research, and more, she is also a skilled leader of people and projects. She gets the best work from her team because she is able to take strong, decisive action while also making everyone on the team feel heard and appreciated.

We asked Dr. McNealy a few questions to get to know her better.

Why do you like working at Econometrica?

I love the culture of learning at Econometrica, especially within the Health Group. One of my favorite parts of the week is our weekly learning sessions where everyone has the opportunity to share new things they are learning or topics expertise they bring from previous roles.

What is your favorite project that you have worked on at Econometrica and why?

My favorite project is the measure development work we did for the Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE). Stakeholder engagement and collaboration was a key piece of this work, and we had the opportunity to visit over 30 PACE Organizations across the country where we talked to participants and their family members to learn about why they chose to enroll in the program. We also got to work with an amazing group of experts, including family members, who participated in our technical expert panel and helped us select measures that would be both feasible for providers and meaningful to people trying to select the best option for their medical care.

How does your previous experience influence your work at Econometrica?

I think my experiences in medical school and time spent on the board of a rural health system give me interesting perspective on how different stakeholders in the healthcare industry work and communicate. It helps me understand technical assistance requests and the impacts of recommendations we make through our work on Medicare programs in a different way.

What do you do outside of work?

I have four kids who we have homeschooled since before COVID, so they are the focus of most of my time outside work. We love to ski, and it has been so fun to watch my kids go from the bunny hill to double black diamonds while we have lived in Utah. I can barely keep up with them anymore!