INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Times, Munster. Sept. 30, 2013.
Generating jobs will help Hoosier families
As much as Hoosiers profess to love their children, the new report on the Status of Girls in Indiana is sobering.
The report compares Hoosier girls ages 10 to 19 with their peers in other states on a wide range of factors including poverty, education, physical health, sexuality and drug use.
On the plus side, Hoosier girls watch less television and are more likely to graduate from high school than their peers in other states. They score better than Hoosier boys on standardized tests, too.
But Hoosier girls are also more overweight, more likely to get pregnant, more likely to have consumed alcohol in the past month and poorer compared to girls in other states.
According to the report compiled by St. Mary's College of Notre Dame, 22 percent of Hoosier girls lived below the poverty line in 2011. Nearly half of Hispanic and black girls were in that category.
This report prompted a lot of head-shaking, but that must not be the extent of the response.
Indiana has a lot of work to do so Hoosier girls can enjoy a well-being at least as good as their counterparts in other states.
Hoosier girls are bright, as their test scores show, but they need help with their self-confidence, with their health and with their parents' wealth.
That means not just public health efforts, but also a re-examination of ways to lift children out of poverty.
Generating additional well-paying jobs so their parents can afford good health care and more educational opportunities for their children -- and discouraging risky behaviors -- is one of the keys to solving this problem.
Indiana is trying a number of job creation efforts. We need those efforts to pay off so families can see an improved quality of life.
Higher wages mean better health.
And as this report shows, there's plenty of room for improvement.
The Journal Gazette. Sept. 30, 2013.
Patients become participants in their health care decisions
Choices . empowerment . health care.
These words hold potential terror, especially when they're taken together.
But they don't have to. A few things to bear in mind as the most far-reaching provisions of Obamacare become reality:
—If you and your family are covered by an employer's health plan, or Medicare, or Medicaid, you don't have to do anything.
—If you are not covered, this is your opportunity to obtain health insurance at a more affordable rate. Indeed, you are obligated to select a plan and sign up, though the penalty for not signing up is, at least this year, just 1 percent of your income.
—Employers no longer may exclude you for a pre-existing condition.
—In northeast Indiana, there are four health care exchanges to choose from, and different levels of coverage are available from each one. Some may exclude providers or specialists that are important to you. So study the plans carefully.
You can do that on your own at www.healthcare.gov. Or you can get someone to talk you through it, 24/7, at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: 800-318-2596. Or, as our Washington editor Brian Francisco reported Sunday, there are local nonprofit agencies that will be happy to help you select coverage and fill out your application. See our guide to enrollment assistance resources at www.journalgazette.net/health.
Some of us remember when doctors made house calls and the patient's role was to take the medicine the doctor prescribed or roll up a sleeve for a shot. One worried about health care bills in those days, but only in the same way that you worried about, say, food or rent or groceries.
Call it the Era of Health-Care Complacency.
Even before Obamacare's historic debut Tuesday, that era was long past. Doctors don't make house calls, but you might seek help for a cut or an infection at a fast-treatment clinic or peruse a menu of immunity shots at your drugstore. On every front, you, the patient, are encouraged to be a participant in the choices about your treatment and, now, your health care plan.
It can be scary. But it doesn't have to be if you ask for help.
Journal & Courier, Lafayette. Sept. 25, 2013.
Where same-sex marriage amendment's heading
The footsteps of doubt have to be creeping around state legislators who, just three years ago, were sure Hoosier voters wouldn't think twice about putting the state's ban on same-sex marriage into the Indiana Constitution.
There's a reason why constitutional amendments take as long as they do, spanning two General Assembly election cycles to get the legislature's clearance to put a question on the ballot for a statewide referendum.
In the case of same-sex marriage, what held in polls in the spring of 2011 — when lawmakers gave initial approval to a proposed amendment — isn't holding up now.
The latest proof came this week in another poll showing waning interest in the subject and, ultimately, slipping chances that the question would pass.
Take things with whichever grain of salt you prefer: The poll of 800 registered voters was commissioned by Freedom Indiana, a coalition aimed at stopping the proposed amendment. But it was done by Christine Matthews, who did polling for former Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels.
Either way, according to the results, 64 percent said they didn't think amending the constitution was the way to deal with same-sex marriage. That included 57 percent of Republicans, according to Matthews.
That alone should be enough to pull back lawmakers. If you believe those numbers, Hoosier voters aren't up for the fight bound to happen if gay marriage is on the 2014 ballot.
Just as revealing, the poll shows the chances of winning seem to be giving way. The numbers are still close, with 46 percent saying they'd vote no on the amendment to 43 percent would vote yes. But compare that to a similar question in April, when the split was 48 percent for it to 44 percent against it.
The numbers have flipped in five months.
Those footsteps are getting louder.
Daily Journal, Franklin. Sept. 25, 2013.
Concussion awareness ... law not best solution
Concussions are getting serious attention at all levels of sports. High school football coaches continually emphasize safe tackling practices with their players, and the NFL has tightened its policies on using the head as a weapon.
In addition, the NFL reached a $765 million settlement with thousands of former players who developed dementia and other concussion-related health problems they say were caused by on-field violence.
Now an Indiana lawmaker plans to sponsor a bill in the next session requiring all youth football coaches using public fields to undergo training to help prevent their players from suffering head injuries and to learn how to spot the signs of concussions.
State Sen. Travis Holdman, R-Markle, said his measure would require coaches using taxpayer-funded facilities to be certified through the "Heads Up Football" online program created by USA Football, the nation's governing body for the sport. If lawmakers approve the measure, he said Indiana would become the first state to require youth coaches be certified through USA Football's online training program.
"Heads Up Football" focuses on proper tackling techniques — including keeping one's head up. It also teaches coaches to recognize the signs of a concussion, how to respond to concussions, how to properly fit players in helmets and other equipment and how to handle the threat of heat stroke.
In an interview with The Associated Press, USA Football executive director Scott Hallenbeck said the program was used last year in three pilot locations but this year has been adopted by nearly 2,800 U.S. youth football leagues. He said the online course is divided into 16 chapters with quizzes after each section and takes about two hours to complete, but it can be done in segments at different times. Participants must pass by at least 80 percent or take it again.
The cost of the online program is $5 for youth football coaches and $25 for high school coaches.
An Indiana law that took effect last year requires schools to remove student-athletes immediately from play or practice if they are suspected of sustaining a concussion and not allow them to return until they have written clearance from a health care provider trained in the evaluation and management of concussions.
Holdman said his bill is the next step in protecting young players from injuries that have been linked to neurological problems, including dementia and depression.
We agree with the sentiment behind the proposal. Teaching proper technique in order to reduce the risk of brain injury is a worthy and appropriate goal. But is legislation the right avenue to pursue? Surely public education would be the more appropriate way to approach the issue.
In addition, is channeling the training through a single entity the right approach?
Coaches and officials already attend workshops where concussion guidelines are discussed, and state high school rules have been tightened, so that players cannot return to a game if there is doubt about their health.
These efforts should continue and would seem the most appropriate way to deal with this serious health question.