Tag Archives: Wellness

Three State Agencies Recommended for Termination

 A legislative panel has recommended termination of three state government entities as requested by
Gov. Bill Haslam‘s administration through the state Department of Health.

In all three cases, officials told a joint House-Senate Government
Operations Subcommittee that most of the duties and responsibilities of
the bodies are covered elsewhere in state government. Assuming the full
Legislature goes along next year, which is traditional, these groups
will “sunset” and cease to exist:

n The Advisory Council on Child Nutrition and Wellness, created in 2006 when
Gov. Phil Bredesen
was in office with no appointments made to fill vacancies since 2010.
Laurie Stanton, who is with the Health Department’s Office of Child
Nutrition and Wellness, said her staff now handles the data collection
and fitness promotion functions of the office.

n The Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Health, created by an executive order from then-
Gov. Ned McWherter
in 1989 and put into law by the Legislature in 1991 with the goal of
“promoting healthy lifestyles.” Stanton said the council once sponsored
a “Tennessee Sports Fest,” but that hasn’t occurred for several years.

Otherwise, she said the only direct impact will be to end an annual
“Shining Stars Awards” banquet, which the department’s website says
recognized with trophy presentations “the promotion of healthy
lifestyles by groups of Tennesseans” in the categories employers,
communities, “educational settings” and media.

n The Tennessee Alliance for Fitness and Health, set up as the fund-raising arm of the Governor’s Council.

“Unfortunately, they haven’t raised funds,” said Stanton. “They’ve run out of money.”

She said “Project Diabetes,” which received an extra $3 million in
funding through Haslam’s budget proposal for the coming years, is
largely devoted to promoting healthy lifestyles, as is an anti-obesity
initiative operated by the Health Department.  

Legislators Skeptical of Haslam’s ‘Health and Wellness Initiative’

Some legislators voiced skepticism about a $72.4 million “health and wellness initiative,” a portion of Gov. Bill Haslam’s budget that was reviewed in full for the first time on Tuesday.
The plan includes $43 million for an anti-smoking and anti-obsesity efforts. Most of that will go to programs targeting teenagers, pregnant women and women with infant children.
About $5 million goes to the obesity program with officials saying they hope to enhance the state money with $20 million to $27 million in private sector donations.
The administration is also counting $24 million for converting the University of Tennessee’s coal-fired steam plant to use natural gas as part of the “health and wellness initiative.”
The project was announced earlier as part of Haslam’s original budget proposal in February. The original proposal was altered somewhat with an amendment outlined Tuesday to the House and Senate Finance Committees.
The coal plant conversion money comes from tobacco company payments being made to the state to resolve lawsuits. Rep. Gary Odom, D-Nashville, questioned the conversion being part of a “health and wellness initiative” as well as involving tobacco money.
“I don’t see the relationship,” he said. “That’s a third of the tobacco settlement money (available to the state next year).”
“The logic behind that is that particular plant in Knoxville is one of the biggest air polluters in the region,” replied Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner, who outlined the initiative to the House Finance Committee with Finance Commissioner Mark Emkes.
The anti-smoking efforts were questioned by House Finance Committee Chairman Charles Sargent, R-Franklin, and House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga.
“That’s a lot of money and a lot of marketing,” said McCormick, suggesting the state has “some more immediate needs.” He also questioned whether it is necessary to explain the dangers of smoking, when most people are already aware of that – including smokers.
Sargent noted the state had allocated $10 million to an anti-smoking campaign in 2007 and added another $5 million two years later. He questioned whether that expenditure had done anything to reduce smoking among Tennesseans.
Dreyzehner said about 23 percent of Tennesseans smoke, according to most recent statistics, and “the needle has been moving down.” That indicates some anti-smoking efforts have been successful, he said, even though Tennessee’s spending on such programs has lagged far behind other states.
The new initiative will have long-term effect in reducing state spending on health care, he predicted, since it targets teenagers and mothers of small children.

On the Health and Wellness of Haslam’s Task Force

Pam Strickland took a look at Gov. Bill Haslam’s appointees to the Health and Wellness Task Force. She was not impressed.
The group, which is charged with finding ways to help Tennesseans improve our bad lot regarding chronic, preventable conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, is overburdened with folks who have CEO, CMO and state bureaucrat in their titles.
There’s not a real person who deals with the nitty-gritty of health issues amongst them — not a nurse practitioner or a school nurse or a diabetes educator or a senior center director.
As a colleague said to me during a Tuesday afternoon telephone conversation, “I kept looking for a Tony Garr,” referring to the policy director of the Tennessee Health Care Campaign, which advocates for affordable health care and for those who have no insurance or who have only TennCare.
So I called Garr and asked what he thought of the task force.
“I noticed the same thing about how privileged the members are,” he said. “I would have put people on it who are obese and who are struggling with the issues that need to be addressed,” so that the task force would hear firsthand what the issues are and they couldn’t avoid the details of the lives.
He continued, “I would put parents of obese children (on the task force). Those kinds of folks. And I would also provide for a way for them to get to the meetings, because one of the problems is transportation.”

Haslam Names ‘Health and Wellness Task Force’

News release from governor’s office:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced the 16 members of his Health and Wellness Task Force, a group charged with developing an initiative to improve Tennessee’s health status by leveraging private and public resources.
Tennessee currently ranks 42nd out of 50 in overall health, according to America’s Health Rankings, an improvement from previous rankings, but health care costs in the private and public sectors continue to hinder potential job growth in the state while also threatening budgets.

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