Nuclear regulations are a subset of social regulations (laws to control activities that may negatively impact the environment, health, and safety) that concern control of ionizing radiation from radiation-producing equipment and from radioactive materials. The impressive safety record among nuclear technologies is due, in no small part, to the work of radiation safety professionals and to a protection system that has kept pace with the rapid technologic advancements in electric power generation, engineering, and medicine. The price of success, however, has led to a regulatory organization and philosophy characterized by complexity, confusion, public fear, and increasing economic costs. Over the past 20 years, regulatory costs in the nuclear sector have increased more than 250% in constant 1995 U.S. dollars. Costs of regulatory compliance can be reduced sharply, particularly when health and environmental benefits of risk reduction are questionable. Three key regulatory areas should be closely examined and modified to improve regulatory effectiveness and efficiency: a) radiation protection should be changed from a risk-based to dose-based system; b) the U.S. government should adopt the modern metric system (International System of Units), and radiation quantities and units should be simplified to facilitate international communication and public understanding; and c) a single, independent office is needed to coordinate nuclear regulations established by U.S. federal agencies and departments. (+info)
Primary prevention and precaution in hazard identification in the NIEHS/NTP: body in the morgue approach.
In the spirit of stimulating reevaluation of the methods of public health science, this article explores the methods of cancer hazard identification at the National Toxicology Program (NTP) from the perspective of primary prevention and precaution. The NTP is a cooperative effort of three federal agencies: The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS, the lead government institute); the National Institute for Occupational Health (NIOSH), in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and the National Center for Toxicology Research (NCTR), in the Food and Drug Administration. NTP coordinates toxicological research and testing programs within the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), and through its annual Report on Carcinogens (RoC), identifies and characterizes cancer hazards-the first step in quantitative risk assessment-for the federal government. The foundation of NIEHS policies, for environmental health research, is quantitative risk assessment (QRA). The author examines the opportunities for primary prevention and precaution, and the extent to which the policies of NIEHS in general, and the NTP in particular, do and do not realize that potential. Special attention is paid to the issue of cancer hazard identification. Critical comments on the process of classifying carcinogens in the Ninth and Tenth Reports on Carcinogens are presented, based on the minutes of the Board of Scientific Counselors Subcommittee meetings. (+info)
Why competition law matters to health care quality.
Competition law (encompassing both antitrust and consumer protection) is the forgotten stepchild of health care quality. This paper introduces readers to competition law and policy, describes its institutional features and analytic framework, surveys the ways in which competition law has influenced quality-based competition, and outlines some areas in need of further development. Competition law protects the competitive process--not individual competitors. It guides the structural features of the health care system and the conduct of providers as they navigate it. Competition law does not privilege quality over other competitive goals but honors consumers' preferences with respect to trade-offs among quality, price, and other attributes of goods and services. (+info)
How does the employer contribution for the federal employees health benefits program influence plan selection?
Market reform of health insurance is proposed to increase coverage and reduce growth in spending by providing an incentive to choose low-cost plans. However, having a choice of plans could result in risk segmentation. Risk-adjusted payments have been proposed to address risk segmentation but are criticized as ineffective. An alternative to risk adjustment is to subsidize premiums, as in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP). Subsidizing premiums may also increase total premium spending. We find that there is little risk segmentation in the FEHBP and that reducing the premium subsidy would lower government premium spending and slightly increase risk segmentation. (+info)
Epidemiologic clues to bioterrorism.
Public health investigators have successfully carried out epidemiologic investigations of outbreaks of disease for many years. By far the majority of these outbreaks have occurred naturally. With the recent illnesses resulting from deliberate dissemination of B. anthracis on an unsuspecting population, public health investigation of diseases must now include consideration of bioterrorism as a potential cause of outbreaks of disease. The features of naturally occurring outbreaks have a certain amount of predictability in terms of consistency with previous occurrences, or at least biological plausibility. However, with a deliberately introduced outbreak or infection among a population, this predictability is minimized. In this paper, the authors propose some epidemiologic clues that highlight features of outbreaks that may be suggestive of bioterrorism. They also describe briefly the general process of involvement of agencies at various levels of government, public health and non-public health, depending on the extent of an outbreak or level of suspicion. (+info)
Post-detention completion of tuberculosis treatment for persons deported or released from the custody of the Immigration and Naturalization Service--United States, 2003.
The Advisory Council for the Elimination of Tuberculosis (ACET) recommends the post-detention completion of tuberculosis (TB) treatment for persons deported or released from the custody of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). The completion of TB therapy prevents disease relapse, subsequent transmission, and the emergence of drug resistance. Integral to treatment completion are issues of security and law enforcement involving persons who under immigration law are ineligible for legal admission into the United States. The Health Resources and Services Administration's Division of Immigration Health Services (DIHS) estimates that approximately 150 TB cases are identified annually among INS detainees in the INS service processing centers (SPCs) and contract detention facilities. Before transfer or deportation, INS policies require that detainees with TB disease receive treatment until they become noncontagious, even if treatment is not completed. INS policies are consistent with federal law, which does not bar deportation of persons with TB disease before the completion of treatment. This report describes three cases that illustrate several issues associated with the deportation of patients with incomplete treatment of TB disease after detention. These cases highlight the need for interagency coordination to ensure completion of treatment for persons being evaluated or treated for TB. (+info)
Public health, law, and local control: destruction of the US chemical weapons stockpile.
Destruction of US chemical weapons has begun at one of the 8 sites in the continental United States, was completed on Johnston Island in the Pacific Ocean, and is scheduled to begin in at least 3 other locations during the upcoming year. About 25% of the stockpile and 38% of the munitions had been destroyed as of December 31, 2002. However, the program has become controversial with regard to choice of technology, emergency management, and cost. This controversy is in large part due to efforts by some state and local governments and activist groups to play a more central role in a decision making process that was once fully controlled by the US Army. (+info)
Should the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's childhood lead poisoning intervention level be lowered?
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 1991 chose 10 micro g/dL as an initial screening level for lead in children's blood. Current data on health risks and intervention options do not support generally lowering that level, but federal lead poisoning prevention efforts can be improved by revising the follow-up testing schedule for infants aged 1 year or less with blood lead levels of 5 micro g/dL or higher; universal education about lead exposure risks; universal administration of improved, locally validated risk-screening questionnaires; enhanced compliance with targeted screening recommendations and federal health program requirements; and development by regulatory agencies of primary prevention criteria that do not use the CDC's intervention level as a target "safe" lead exposure. (+info)