Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Right Attitude and Beating Triggers Help Smokers Quit

(Salt Lake City) – It doesn’t take a scientist to tell you that quitting smoking is tough. The ups and downs of beating a substance more addictive than heroin takes a mental toll on many who smoke; far too many users fall into the mindset that regardless of their efforts, they’ll never be able to quit. Eighty percent of current smokers say they want to quit, and studies show that a hopeful attitude is one of the key indicators of a person that will succeed at quitting tobacco.

That’s why the Utah Department of Health’s anti-tobacco effort is launching the new ad campaign ‘Quitting For Real’. It features TV commercials and billboards that depict real world situations as smokers become ex-smokers one day at a time. Through these ads tobacco users can learn quick tips to beat a craving and gain the self-confidence and resolve to do so.

“This campaign is meant to inspire,” says Adam Bramwell of the UDOH Tobacco Prevention and Control Program. “We want to reinforce that key moment when a smoker consciously makes the tough choice not to smoke, and to show the satisfaction he or she feels in making that right decision.”

The new commercials star an overworked waitress, a carpenter in his shop, and a student on his way to school, all of whom overcome triggers that could have potentially led to a relapse. Each spot focuses on a person at a different point in the quit process.

“People who see a slip up as just a brief mistake they can recover from tend to succeed in quitting,” says Bramwell. “On the other hand, if someone thinks of a single smoke, or even one drag, as a complete failure, the chance of success drops significantly. We believe these spots will resonate with tobacco users as they tackle the process of quitting one day at a time.”

For a free, personalized quit plan, call the Utah Tobacco Quit Line at 1.800.QUIT.NOW or visit To see the ‘Quitting for Real’ campaign, visit

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The mission of the Utah Department of Health is to protect the public’s health through preventing avoidable illness, injury, disability and premature death, assuring access to affordable, quality health care, and promoting healthy lifestyles.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Walk Arthritis Pain Away

(Salt Lake City) How would you like to be free of arthritis pain in just 4 to 6 weeks?”  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is possible by doing a little walking on your own most days of the week or by participating in one of the programs proven to help arthritis in Utah.

“It’s amazing how many ways walking helps,” says Christine Weiss, spokesperson for the Utah Arthritis Program. “Walking relieves back and joint pain by improving blood flow and strengthening muscles. It also lowers blood pressure, heart attack and stroke risk, and strengthens bone to reduce the risk of osteoporosis,” she added.

The problem is, a recent report from the CDC found that 50% of Utahns with arthritis get no physical activity during a given week. Rebecca Castleton, UDOH Arthritis Program Coordinator, says, “This report is concerning because people with arthritis who don’t move much are at far greater risk for being injured and even disabled.” 

In fact, arthritis is the leading cause of disability in Utah and the nation. The disease is accompanied by severe joint pain, limited mobility, and often, depression. But the good news is even a small amount of physical activity is proven as the best way to manage the disease. Moderate physical activity like walking reduces pain, improves function, and delays disability.

The CDC recommends low-impact activities like walking, dancing, biking, swimming, and water aerobics. Experts say adults should aim for 150 minutes per week, or 30 minutes per day, five days a week. If 30 minutes seems overwhelming, breaking it up into two or three, 10- to 15- minute sessions throughout the day works wonders for many people.
“You can start by walking around your neighborhood or gardening for 10 minutes in the morning,” says Lisa Fall, President and Chief Mission Officer, Arthritis Foundation.  “In the afternoon you could try 10 minutes of dancing or house cleaning and in the evening walk again with a friend.”
And if you don’t like walking alone, you can have company by joining the proven pain relief program Walk With Ease. The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) and its partners offer the program throughout the state and say most people who stick with this and other physical activities feel and move better in just 4 to 6 weeks.  

Edma Garcia is walking proof that Walk With Ease works. She started the program because chronic ankle pain made it difficult to make the short walk from the parking lot to her office every day.  “But the stretching, warm-up exercises, and group walks made a big difference,” says Garcia. “By the end of the program my ankle pain was pretty much gone.” Now, Edma even goes for long walks on weekends. 

To find a Walk With Ease Program in your area, or to learn more about local efforts to address arthritis, visit or call 801-538-9458. Or contact the Arthritis Foundation at 1-800-444-4993 or
Media Contact:
Christine Weiss (Arthritis Program)
Leslie Nelson (Arthritis Foundation)
(o) 801-536-0990 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Medicaid Expansion Analysis Presented to Workgroup

(Salt Lake City, UT) – A report released today during the Medicaid Expansion Options Community Workgroup meeting will provide information for Utah policy makers as they consider whether to expand the state’s Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  The report, produced by Boston-based Public Consulting Group (PCG), does not make recommendations on how the state should proceed, but rather analyzes the costs and benefits associated with five potential expansion scenarios.

The PCG report found that the ACA will increase Medicaid’s overall cost to the state, and that those costs increase over time as the federal government’s Medicaid reimbursement rate shrinks.

“This report is one of many considerations I encourage the committee to take into account.  Our workgroup will undoubtedly identify additional items that will need to be thoroughly considered before providing our report to the governor,” said Utah Department of Health Executive Director David Patton.  “The bottom line is that each and every scenario comes with significant costs to the taxpayer.  But there are also benefits, both human and financial, and we must remain focused on finding the best way to deliver high-quality, affordable health care to Utahns.”

The PCG report models the costs and benefits of five different scenarios, four optional expansion scenarios in addition to the mandatory changes to Medicaid required by the ACA.  For each scenario, the report analyzes the cost of expansion due to increased enrollment and administrative costs.  It also estimates potential savings, primarily to other state and county public assistance programs whose clients would become eligible for Medicaid.  The PCG report also analyzes the savings Utah hospitals and community health centers would achieve from reducing the amount of uncompensated care they provide.  Finally, the report estimates how expanding Medicaid may impact the state’s overall economy, as well as the impact it may have on creating new jobs.

The PCG report found significant costs will come from mandatory changes to Medicaid eligibility and from increased enrollment due to the ACA’s requirement that all residents have health insurance.  Some of the mandatory changes include the removal of a resource test for some eligibility groups as well as an increase in the income eligibility level for some children.  The state will bear the costs of these mandatory changes regardless of whether it chooses to expand the Medicaid program.  The PCG report estimates over the next 10 years the mandatory changes will:

Increase Medicaid enrollment by 60,202 adults and children
Increase Medicaid service and administration costs by $762 million (due to federal matching money, the state share of this increase will be $213 million)
Generate an additional $20 million in state tax revenues
Generate an additional $16 million in county tax revenues
Generate $516 million statewide in economic impact, create 747 new jobs

The remaining four scenarios modeled in the PCG report all assume the state will expand its Medicaid program.  The PCG report estimates over the next 10 years the costs and benefits of the full expansion scenario (traditional Medicaid benefits for adults earning up to 138 percent of poverty) will be:

123,586 additional adults would enroll in Medicaid
Medicaid service and administration costs will increase by $3.2 billion (due to federal matching money, the state share of this increase would be $260 million)
State public assistance programs would save $156 million
County public assistance programs would save $39 million
Generate an additional $113 million in state tax revenues
Generate an additional $90 million in county tax revenues
Hospitals would save $814 million in uncompensated care
Generate $2.9 billion statewide in economic impact, create 4,160 new jobs

A similar cost/benefit analysis for each of the other four expansion scenarios can be found in the full report.  The report is available at
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Media Contact:
Tom Hudachko
Public Information Officer
(o) 801-538-6232
(m) 801-560-4649

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

UDOH News Advisory: Medicaid Expansion Cost/Benefit Analysis to be Released

What:  The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) will release a report produced by Boston-based Public Consulting Group (PCG), which analyzes the costs and benefits associated with Utah’s potential expansion of the state’s Medicaid program under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Why:   The report was commissioned by UDOH to provide Utah policy makers and the Medicaid Expansion Options Community Workgroup with a resource as they consider full expansion, alternatives to full expansion, or the status quo.

Who:   The report will be released during the Medicaid Expansion Options Community Workgroup meeting.
When: Thursday, May 23, 2013
            1:30 p.m.

Where:  Utah State Capitol
  Senate Building – Room 210

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Media Contact:
Tom Hudachko
Public Information Officer
(o) 801-538-6232
(m) 801-560-4649 


Monday, May 20, 2013

At Risk for a Stroke? Get Prevention Tips at SLC Workshop

What:   Stroke Prevention and Modifiable Risk Factors Workshop
  Participants will be screened for risk factors such as body mass index (BMI) and blood pressure
  Participants will receive a pedometer and a heart-healthy cookbook
Why:    To educate families and stroke patients on the importance of healthful eating and movement to prevent and recover from stroke.
Who:     Sponsored by Utah Department of Health and American Heart Association/American Stroke Association

When:    Wednesday, May 29
                9:00 - 10:30 a.m.
Where:  Salt Lake City Library
               210 E 400 S 
               Salt Lake City, Utah 84111
               Rooms A and B
Opps:    Heather Hayes, DPT, NCS
              Physical Therapist
              University of Utah Rehabilitation and Wellness Clinic
              Kelly Robinson            
              Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program
              Utah Department of Health

For more info contact:
               Kelly Robinson            
               Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program
               Utah Dept. of Health
               Jennifer Merback
               Utah Heart/Stroke Association