distinct from family/household units) and to automate data cuts based on federal poverty guidelines. Like the Census Bureau’s American FactFinder interface, SHADAC believes it important to present both estimates and standard errors overtly, so that users can assess differences across population and demographic groups of interest.
Call closed by noting her concerns about the possibility of reductions in effective ACS sample size and generalizability that she said would occur if the survey were made voluntary; she said that such an outcome could greatly impair the representativeness of the data and the states’ ability to benchmark and to look directly at some subpopulations of interest within state boundaries. And—in terms of a “wish list”—she argued that the great value of ACS data is its timeliness, yet availability of coverage estimates for half-years or even quarters would be ideal for time-sensitive policy debates. Given SHADAC’s health coverage and access focus, Call’s “wish list” included addition of two questions: a self reported indication of general health status and a question on access to health care services. During the discussion period at the end of the session, Call was asked what specific form of question on access might be most useful; she replied that some typical ones from other standalone surveys include questions of the rough forms “Do you have a usual source that you go to for care?” or “At any point in the last year, have you gone without health care because you couldn’t afford it?” Questions of this type are part of the NHIS and BRFSS, and could be the model for a more general question on the ACS. On the health status question, even something as basic as “Would you say your health is generally excellent, very good, good, fair, or poor?”—combined with other covariates available in the ACS—could spur important and interesting research.
Established in its present form in 2002 through the merger of the existing Departments of Health (itself dating back to 1805) and Mental Hygiene, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) is the chief public health agency for the nation’s largest city. James Stark, an epidemiologist from the DOHMH Bureau of Epidemiology Services, described DOHMH’s use of ACS data in a presentation developed in collaboration with methodology unit director Kevin Konty.
Stark commented that all seven of the “content divisions” within DOHMH8 use ACS-based analysis in some form, directly or indirectly. The Epidemiology Services bureau is the principal support arm for this analysis, generating population descriptions or deriving population estimates and profiles that are used
8The Epidemiology Division, headed by a deputy commissioner, is one of these divisions; Stark’s Bureau of Epidemiology Services is housed within that division.