Excess mortality in England post Covid-19 pandemic: implications for secondary prevention

Link: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanepe/article/PIIS2666-7762(23)00221-1/fulltext#secsectitle0010




Many countries, including the UK, have continued to experience an apparent excess of deaths long after the peaks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021. Numbers of excess deaths estimated in this period are considerable. The UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) has calculated that there were 7.2% or 44,255 more deaths registered in the UK in 2022 based on comparison with the five-year average (excluding 2020). This persisted into 2023 with 8.6% or 28,024 more deaths registered in the first six months of the year than expected. The Continuous Mortality Investigation (CMI) found a similar excess (28,500 deaths) for the same period using different methods. Several methods can be used to estimate excess deaths, each with limitations which should be considered in interpretation, however the overall trends tend to be consistent across the various methods.

The causes of these excess deaths are likely to be multiple and could include the direct effects of Covid-19 infection, acute pressures on NHS acute services resulting in poorer outcomes from episodes of acute illness, and disruption to chronic disease detection and management. Further analysis by cause and by age- and sex-group may help quantify the relative contributions of these causes.

Since July 2020, the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID) has published estimates of excess mortality based on a Poisson regression model for England week by week, overall and decomposed by age, ethnicity, region and cause. This model finds that in the period from week ending 3rd June 2022 to 30th June 2023, excess deaths for all causes were relatively greatest for 50–64 year olds (15% higher than expected), compared with 11% higher for 25–49 and < 25 year olds, and about 9% higher for over 65 year old groups. While the median age of these groups has changed since 2020, age-standardised mortality analysis breaking down death rates by sex find clearer age differences still. The age-standardised CMI found similar patterns with the largest relative excess deaths for 2022 observed in young (20–44 years) and middle-aged (45–64 years) adults. These findings should be interpreted carefully because of greater than usual delay in registration of deaths in the latter part of 2022.

Several causes, including cardiovascular diseases, show a relative excess greater than that seen in deaths from all-causes (9%) over the same period (week ending 3rd June 2022–30th June 2023), namely: all cardiovascular diseases (12%), heart failure (20%), ischaemic heart diseases (15%), liver diseases (19%), acute respiratory infections (14%), and diabetes (13%).

For middle-aged adults (50–64) in this 13-month period, the relative excess for almost all causes of death examined was higher than that seen for all ages. Deaths involving cardiovascular diseases were 33% higher than expected, while for specific cardiovascular diseases, deaths involving ischaemic heart diseases were 44% higher, cerebrovascular diseases 40% higher and heart failure 39% higher. Deaths involving acute respiratory infections were 43% higher than expected and for diabetes, deaths were 35% higher. Deaths involving liver diseases were 19% higher than expected for those aged 50–64, the same as for deaths at all ages.

Looking at place of death, from 3rd June 2022 to 30th June 2023 there were 22% more deaths in private homes than expected compared with 10% more in hospitals, but there was no excess in deaths in care homes and 12% fewer deaths than expected in hospices. For deaths involving cardiovascular diseases the relative excess in private homes was higher than all causes at 27%. Deaths in hospital were 8% higher and deaths in care homes only 3% higher.

The greatest numbers of excess deaths in the acute phase of the pandemic were in older adults. The pattern now is one of persisting excess deaths which are most prominent in relative terms in middle-aged and younger adults, with deaths from CVD causes and deaths in private homes being most affected. Timely and granular analyses are needed to describe such trends and so to inform prevention and disease management efforts. Leveraging such granular insights has the potential to mitigate what seems to be a continued and unequal impact on mortality, and likely corresponding impacts on morbidity, across the population.

Jonathan Pearson-Stuttard
Sarah Caul
Stuart McDonald
Emily Whamond
John N. Newton

Publication Date: 1 Dec 2023

Publication Site: The Lancet Regional Health Europe

Our Most Expensive Failure

Link: https://www.governforcalifornia.org/news/2023/12/1/our-most-expensive-failure



When launching GFC in 2011 it was my hope that we would see meaningful pension reform by 2020, but we have failed to achieve that objective and the negative consequences for public services and taxpayers have been enormous. As evidence, just look at the four-fold explosion in annual pension spending by the Los Angeles Unified School District this year compared to ten years ago:

Pension spending will keep exploding. That’s because California’s public pension funds still have inadequate ratios of assets to liabilities despite more than $200 billion of pension contributions and a doubling of the stock market since 2013-14.

Pension reform is not the only thing I got wrong. I thought it would be even easier to terminate California’s unnecessary spending on other post-employment benefits (OPEB), especially after the creation of Obamacare and that program’s generous federal healthcare subsidies, but LAUSD alone is spending $365 million on OPEB this school year. Together, pensions and OPEB consume one of every six LAUSD dollars, leaving that much less for classrooms and salaries. 

Author(s): David Crane

Publication Date: 1 Dec 2023

Publication Site: Govern for California

Combating the black maternal and infant mortality crisis

Link: https://cbs6albany.com/news/local/combating-the-black-maternal-and-infant-mortality-crisis


She’s not alone, according to the CDC black women of all backgrounds are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy related cause than white woman. Black infants are also three times more likely to die than white babies.

Many black women report feeling silenced or ignored by healthcare providers during their pregnancy journey.

“It is 2023 almost 2024, and in this time, we should not be dying in birth. Period. You may be the medical professional, and you may have great textbook knowledge and you may have many degrees, but nobody is in my body but me, and nobody can tell me that this pain that I’m feeling is not there,” King said.


This month New York Governor Kathy Hochul called the issue a crisis and a disgrace. Hochul announced more than $4 million in funding for regional perinatal centers and said doula services will now be covered for all Medicaid enrollees beginning January first.

In a statement, Governor Hochul said, “as the first mom and grandma to serve as Governor of New York, I’m committed to doing everything in my power to tackle the disturbing rise in infant mortality.”

Esther is hopeful the attacks on this issue from all fronts will lead to better outcomes for women and babies in the future.


For more information about BirthNet visit this link.

Author(s): Emani Payne

Publication Date: 21 Nov 2023

Publication Site: CBS 6 Albany

‘Worse Than People Can Imagine’: Medicaid ‘Unwinding’ Breeds Chaos in States

Link: https://kffhealthnews.org/news/article/medicaid-unwinding-disenrollment-redetermination-state-delays/



Seven months into what was predicted to be the biggest upheaval in the 58-year history of the government health insurance program for people with low incomes and disabilities, states have reviewed the eligibility of more than 28 million people and terminated coverage for over 10 million of them. Millions more are expected to lose Medicaid in the coming months.

The unprecedented enrollment drop comes after federal protections ended this spring that had prohibited states from removing people from Medicaid during the three pandemic years. Since March 2020, enrollment in Medicaid and the related Children’s Health Insurance Program had surged by more than 22 million to reach 94 million people.

The process of reviewing all recipients’ eligibility has been anything but smooth for many Medicaid enrollees. Some are losing coverage without understanding why. Some are struggling to prove they’re still eligible. Recipients and patient advocates say Medicaid officials sent mandatory renewal forms to outdated addresses, miscalculated income levels, and offered clumsy translations of the documents. Attempting to process the cases of tens of millions of people at the same time also has exacerbated long-standing weaknesses in the bureaucratic system. Some suspect particular states have used the confusing system to discourage enrollment.

Author(s): Phil Galewitz and Katheryn Houghton and Brett Kelman and Samantha Liss

Publication Date: 2 Nov 2023

Publication Site: Kaiser Health News

PREPA bond parties make offer and file suits

Link: https://fixedincome.fidelity.com/ftgw/fi/FINewsArticle?id=202311131617SM______BNDBUYER_0000018b-ca27-d799-afbf-dbf739470092_110.1


Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority bond parties that oppose the Oversight Board’s proposed debt deal filed suits challenging part of the deal, asked for compensation for Puerto Rico central government’s actions since March 2022 and proposed an alternate bond deal.

The parties filed the suits this weekend in the U.S. District Court for Puerto Rico and filed an informative motion Friday in the bankruptcy telling U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain about their bond deal offer.

GoldenTree Asset Management and Syncora Guarantee sued Puerto Rico’s central government for actions taken since March 2022 to interfere with PREPA’s ability to pay bondholders. The court has yet to appoint a judge in that case.

The bond parties allege the commonwealth government has manipulated PREPA’s fiscal plans and budgets to deprive the bondholders of their claim on the authority’s revenues and depress the value of the bonds.

The board rejected former Oversight Board member Justin Peterson’s suggestion to use commonwealth financial surpluses for PREPA because the commonwealth didn’t owe the authority money.

Author(s): Robert Slavin

Publication Date: 13 Nov 2023

Publication Site: Fidelity Fixed Income/Bond Buyer

The Tax Prep Industry Doesn’t Want You to File Your Taxes for Free

Link: https://jacobin.com/2023/11/irs-direct-file-free-tax-filing-intuit


The tax preparation industry claims that current efforts to create a government-run system that would allow eligible Americans to file their taxes for free could be prohibitively expensive. But a new report reveals that the potential cost of such a free-file program could be less than the total tax subsidies scored last year by the biggest player in an industry that reaps billions from people using services that could be free.

In effect, government tax credits are subsidizing Intuit’s fight against a direct-file system that would let Americans avoid paying for the company’s tax filing services. In October, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced it would pilot its free Direct File platform for select taxpayers in thirteen states during the 2024 tax season — potentially delivering a final blow to a twenty-year agreement with the tax preparation industry that prohibited the IRS from effectively becoming a competitor. That’s assuming Congress doesn’t eliminate funding for the free tax filing program as part of its new military aid bill for Israel, as Republicans have proposed.

In return for the IRS not launching its own e-filing product, private tax prep companies like Intuit and H&R Block were required to provide access to free filing services for qualified taxpayers. But only 3 percent of eligible taxpayers utilized these free services, largely due to roadblocks set up by companies that forced people into paying for their products instead. Both companies ended up pulling out of the free IRS program in recent years.

These deceptive strategies and hurdles have proven to be lucrative for the industry. In 2019, at least fourteen million Americans paid for tax prep services that should have been free, according to a Treasury Department audit spurred by a ProPublica investigation. This earned the industry around $1 billion in revenue.


Publication Date: 10 Nov 2023

Publication Site: Jacobin Magazine