In the News

Category Archives: In the News

CNBC: The $600 Unemployment Boost has Ended. What’s Next?

By | In the News

Findings from paper of Atheendar Venkataramani 

With negotiations between Democrats and Republicans at an impasse, millions relying on that aid are in the dark as to what comes next.

The $600 supplement reduced food insecurity by 30% and led to a 42% reduction in eating less due to financial constraints, according to a paper published Thursday by academics at Boston University and the University of Pennsylvania.

Read more at CNBC.

New York Times: Contact Tracing Is Failing in Many States. Here’s Why.

By | In the News

In Arizona’s most populated region, the coronavirus is so ubiquitous that contact tracers have been unable to reach a fraction of those infected.

In Austin, Texas, the story is much the same. Just as it is in North Carolina, where the state’s health secretary recently told state lawmakers that its tracking program was hiring outside workers to keep up with a steady rise in cases, as a number of other states have done.

Cities in Florida, another state where Covid-19 cases are surging, have largely given up on tracking cases. Things are equally dismal in California. And in New York City’s tracing program, workers complained of crippling communication and training problems.

Contact tracing, a cornerstone of the public health arsenal to tamp down the coronavirus across the world, has largely failed in the United States; the virus’s pervasiveness and major lags in testing have rendered the system almost pointless. In some regions, large swaths of the population have refused to participate or cannot even be located, further hampering health care workers.

“I think it’s easy to say contact tracing is broken,” said Carolyn Cannuscio, an expert on the method and an associate professor of family medicine and community health at the University of Pennsylvania. “It is broken because so many parts of our prevention system are broken.”

Read more at the New York Times.

Freakonomics: Are Ambitious People Inherently Selfish?

By | In the News

Featuring Angela Duckworth

This podcasts features the following two questions:

Question #1: Is it possible to be both self-interested and altruistic at the same time?



Question #2: Why do we habituate to life’s greatest pleasures?


  • Angela and Stephen discuss Danny Kahneman’s famous study on colonoscopy-related pain perception. You can learn more about the study here.


Listen to the entire podcast here.

STAT: Lower the Cost of Producing Doctors, Not Just the Price of Going to Medical School

By | In the News

By David Asch et al:

Medicine has become a profession accessible mainly to the rich. Just look at the price tag for medical school.

In the 1960s, the four years of medical education needed to earn an M.D. in the United States could be had for about $40,000 in today’s dollars. The price is now $300,000, a 750% increase. About 70% of students take out loans to pay for medical school, graduating with an average of $200,000 in debt. One in five graduates who finance their medical education with loans accumulate more than $300,000 of debt. That average debt is increasingly concentrated in fewer people who individually owe more.

That’s not the right direction to be going in at a time when the U.S. aims to make the medical profession more inclusive. Clinician diversity improves patient care, and access to high-status professional roles in society should be available for all.

Read more at STAT. 


Penn Today: Philadelphia Tax on Sweetened Drinks Led to Drop in Sales

By | In the News

Philadelphia’s tax on sweetened beverages led to a 38.9% drop in the volume of taxed beverages sold at small, independent retailers and a significant increase in the price of taxed beverages, according to new research from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

This study builds on previous research that suggests beverage taxes can help reduce purchases of sugary drinks, led by Christina Roberto, an associate professor of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at Penn, and senior author on this latest paper published in Health Affairs.

“Beverage taxes are a win-win: they decrease purchases of sugary drinks that are making us sick, and in Philadelphia, also raise revenue for important programs supporting children’s education,” Roberto says.

Read more at Penn Today.

MedPage Today: Healthcare Disruptors: Bringing $0 Copays to Self-Insured Plans

By | In the News

Developing an employer-supported insurance plan that’s affordable for both the company and its workers, and that does away with the red tape, surprise bills and other complaints that are now commonplace in U.S. healthcare, may seem like a pipe dream.

Enter The Zero Card, a healthcare marketplace and supplemental employee benefit program already in operation that promises a cheaper, streamlined process for employers with self-insured plans for employees.

Employers in almost every market “would stand to gain from working with The Zero Card as a complement to their self-insured plans managed by insurance companies,” commented Daniel Polsky, PhD, a health economist at John Hopkins University in Baltimore.

Read more at MedPageToday

The Daily Pennsylvanian: Penn Med Project Looks to See if Spending Time in Nature Can Lessen Postpartum Depression

By | In the News

A new Penn Medicine pilot program aims to find if spending time outdoor spaces can lessen or prevent postpartum depression in new mothers.

Nurtured in Nature is a four-week intervention program for women ages 18 and older who had just had a baby and who lived in predominantly Black neighborhoods in Philadelphia. The project was created by Penn Medicine Assistant Professor Dr. Eugenia South, and all research was completed earlier this year before the COVID-19 pandemic hit Philadelphia in early March.

“With this program, I am hoping to develop something that will connect women from Black communities to nearby nature in a way that may not have been connected before, and positively influence health by doing so,” South wrote in an emailed statement to The Daily Pennsylvanian.

Read more in the Daily Pennsylvanian.

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Benefits Pro: Website Design Affects 401(k) Participants’ Decisions

By | In the News

Website design isn’t about making things look pretty—it can be a powerful tool to help employees make better decisions about benefits.

Design is not just a “visual garnish,” but instead is “an integral part of any product or service offering. And it’s possible to navigate a path to behaviorally informed designs,” wrote Shlomo Benartzi, a professor of behavioral decision making at UCLA Anderson School of Management and Saurabh Bhargava, an associate professor of economics at Carnegie Mellon University.

Their goal was to find a website design that induced employees to contribute more than the default rate, since that’s often not enough for people to achieve financial security in retirement.

Read more at Benefits Pro.

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Healio: Public Health Experts Applaud Supreme Court’s Decision to Preserve DACA

By | In the News

A Supreme Court decision Thursday allowed the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program to remain in effect, keeping the approximately 690,000 offspring of U.S. immigrants from being deported.

Perelman School of Medicine Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, Atheendar Venkataramani offers his insight on the DACA ruling:

“There are three reasons why the Supreme Court decision regarding DACA is a very good thing for public health.

First, my research and other research showed that the program improved mental and physical health outcomes among beneficiaries. Second, research has also showed that the children of DACA beneficiaries also had improved mental health outcomes. Third, there are a fair number of people in the health care workforce that have benefited from DACA, such as medical students and residents.”

Read more at Healio.