ASTHO Annual Policy Summit and Leader to Leader Roundtable Highlights

October 04, 2018|12:54 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

ASTHO hosted its annual policy summit last week, offering state and territorial health officials and other invited guests an opportunity to focus on priority and emerging policy issues facing public health agencies. After a morning plenary presentation from the National Partnership for Action on ways state and territorial health agencies can help end health disparities, participants attended a set of leader to leader executive roundtables. Read More »

ASTHO’s 2018 Vision Awards Recognize Massachusetts, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas

September 28, 2018|9:53 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

On Sept. 25, ASTHO presented four state health departments with 2018 Vision Awards during its annual conference. Created in 1990, the awards are presented annually to recognize outstanding programs or initiatives at state and territorial health departments that demonstrate creative approaches to address public health challenges. The Vision Awards promote awareness and expand recognition of successful state and territorial health programs. Read More »

Day Two: 2018 ASTHO Annual Meeting Recap

September 27, 2018|2:27 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

ASTHO CEO Michael Fraser opened the second day of ASTHO’s annual meeting by congratulating and officially introducing ASTHO President Nicole Alexander-Scott (SHO-RI) and ASTHO President-Elect Nate Smith (SHO-AR). Read the full announcement here. ASTHO Immediate Past-President John Wiesman (SHO-WA), ASTHO Past President Jay Butler (SHO-AK), and Mary Currier (SHO-MS) then presented the Ed Thompson Lifetime Achievement Award to Anne Schuchat, CDC’s principal deputy director. Additionally, Schuchat provided welcoming remarks and reflected on her career in public health and spoke about CDC’s current direction and future priorities. Read More »

Day One: 2018 ASTHO Annual Meeting Recap

September 26, 2018|6:24 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Policy Summit – ASTHO kicked off the day with a policy summit featuring leader-to-leader executive roundtable sessions with several federal partners and a keynote luncheon address from Larry Sabato, Robert Kent Gooch Professor of Politics at the University of Virginia and founder and director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics. During the keynote, Sabato provided a historical review of previous midterm elections, the current political environment, and his forecast for the November midterm elections. ASTHO’s six policy committees met later in the day to discuss emerging policy issues. Read More »

As E-Cigarette Popularity Rises, State Legislatures Look to Curb their Appeal with Price Increases

September 20, 2018|4:14 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) use by youth is a growing concern among state and federal policymakers and a public health issue that FDA claims has “hit epidemic proportions.” On Sept. 12, FDA took historic action against more than 1,300 retailers and five major manufacturers for enabling youth access to e-cigarette products through illegal sales and false marketing. Read More »

Connecting Public Health and Philanthropy: A Conversation with Judy Monroe

September 20, 2018|1:52 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Judy Monroe (alumna-IN) is president and CEO of CDC Foundation. A former CDC deputy director and director of the Center for State, Tribal, Local and Territorial Support (CSTLTS), Monroe also previously served as Indiana’s state health commissioner and president of ASTHO. In 2017, ASTHO opened a regional office in CDC Foundation’s headquarters in Atlanta. With this in mind, ASTHO spoke to Monroe about her past experience, the foundation and its relationship with CDC, and opportunities for collaboration between ASTHO and CDC Foundation. Read More »

APHL's Scott Becker Explains How NewSTEPs 360 is Promoting Innovation in Newborn Screening

September 12, 2018|5:13 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Newborn Screening Awareness Month takes place every September to remind new and expecting parents, healthcare professionals, and the public about the importance of newborn screening to test babies for certain diseases and conditions before the symptoms even appear. This includes blood testing, hearing screening, and pulse oximetry. Throughout the month, public health and newborn screening communities rally around the principle that all babies deserve a healthy start. Ahead of this year’s observance, Scott Becker, executive director of the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL), discusses initiatives and collaborations to help improve newborn screening, as well as the work ASTHO is doing to promote this vital work among state and territorial public health leaders. Read More »

Larry Sabato on the Politics of Public Health

August 30, 2018|12:16 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

In a year filled with politics, primaries, polls, and elections, everyone turns to longtime political analyst and veteran election prognosticator Larry Sabato. A Rhodes Scholar and author of more than twenty books on political analysis and history, Sabato is the Robert Kent Gooch Professor of Politics at the University of Virginia, founder and director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, and creator of Sabato’s Crystal Ball, a free newsletter and must-read for all political junkies. Read More »

Affordable Care Act Update

August 02, 2018|5:33 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

While state public health agencies recognize that much of what contributes to health lies outside the doctor’s office, there is evidence demonstrating that stable and ongoing insurance coverage enables consumers to utilize preventive and primary care services that improve outcomes and downstream healthcare spending. Changes to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that have occurred over the past several years are likely to impact market stability and insurance coverage, as well as actions states are pursuing, given uncertainty around the future of ACA. Read More »

Health Departments are Key to Eliminating Hepatitis in the United States

July 26, 2018|4:07 p.m.| Murray Penner, Executive Director, NASTAD (National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors)

World Hepatitis Day takes place every year on July 28 to raise awareness around hepatitis and opportunities to eliminate this disease. Despite significant strides in prevention and treatment, hepatitis remains one of the biggest global health threats. Ahead of this year’s observance, Murray Penner, executive director of NASTAD, reflects on what it will take to end this global epidemic and the critical role public health plays in accomplishing this important work. Read More »

University of Washington’s PEARLS Model Reduces Depression Among Older Adults

July 05, 2018|4:01 p.m.| Community Health and Prevention Team

Depression is the most common mental health problem affecting older adults and the University of Washington Health Promotion Research Center (HPRC) developed and implemented one of the most effective evidence-based programs for older adult depression. The Program to Encourage Active, Rewarding Lives for Seniors (PEARLS) is a home- and community-based program that has been shown to reduce depression symptoms by over 50 percent when delivered by trained professionals over the course of six to eight one-hour sessions. Currently, over 50 agencies offer PEARLS across 18 states and HPRC provides ongoing training and technical support as part of a network of 26 funded CDC academic research centers. ASTHO spoke with HPRC’s research scientist, Lesley Steinman, and the center’s principal investigator, Mark Snowden, to learn more about PEARLS and how the program is being used to confront the stigma associated with depression and mental health. Read More »

A Look at Access to Health Services and the Intersection of Immigration Status with Medicaid and Insurance Eligibility

July 05, 2018|2:39 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Noncitizens in the United States make up about seven percent of the total U.S. population and are more likely to be low-income and uninsured than citizens. Census data estimates that 71 percent of undocumented adult noncitizens do not have health insurance. Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and select public health programs serve immigrants regardless of their immigration status. Medicaid, the publicly funded health insurance program for lower-income Americans, limits eligibility for immigrants to those qualified immigrants with refugee status or those who are veterans and those who have been lawfully present in the United States for five years. States can choose whether to provide coverage to legally present immigrants before their five-year waiting period expires. Read More »

California Department of Public Health Joins the Fight Against Devastating Wildfires

July 05, 2018|12:46 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Last year’s wildfires in California caused historic levels of damage and destruction. Fires erupted as far north as the Klamath National Forest along the California-Oregon border and as far south as San Diego. Some blazes engulfed areas surrounding major cities including Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Santa Rosa, and Ventura, burning through mountainsides and neighborhoods. More than 9,000 wildfires roared through California, burning 1.2 million acres of land—an area the size of Delaware—destroying more than 10,800 structures, and causing at least 46 deaths. The Thomas Fire, first reported on December 4, 2017, scorched nearly 300,000 acres across southern California, making it the largest fire ever recorded in California history. Read More »

Member Spotlight: Greg Lakin

June 28, 2018|3:24 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

Greg Lakin, DO, JD, is chief medical officer for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. In this role, Lakin participates in ASTHO matters on the agency's behalf. Lakin has spent his career working in the field of medicine as a family practitioner, as well as in emergency medicine, skilled nursing, and long-term care. Previously, Lakin was elected to the Kansas House of Representatives. He received a law degree from Northwestern School of Law of Lewis and Clark College, followed by a medical degree from Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine. Read More »

New CMS Medicaid-CHIP Scorecard Creates a Pivotal Moment for Public Health Partnership

June 21, 2018|1:18 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

On June 4, 2018, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a new scorecard that may serve as a new opportunity for state/territorial health agency (S/THA) leadership to collaborate with Medicaid agencies, especially at this early phase of development. The new scorecard combines quality metrics and collectively measures the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and state Medicaid programs. CMS intends for the scorecard to be a tool for states to learn from high-achieving peers and contribute to the development of best practices; however, a great deal of uncertainty remains around the scorecard’s use and general reliability. S/THA leadership may consider this as an opportunity to fulfill the role of chief health strategists and partner with their sister Medicaid agencies to jointly improve population health and quality measures, as well as to engage in broader joint strategic planning and priority setting. Read More »

New York State Department of Health Shares QI Approach for Solving Childcare Inspection Problem

June 20, 2018|8:25 a.m.| ASTHO’s Performance Improvement, Research, and Evaluation Team

A culture of continuous quality improvement (QI) is considered the gold standard that many health departments seek to achieve. By improving overall performance and quality, health departments can become more effective and efficient, cut costs, and get better results for the communities they serve. The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) is well on its way to creating such a culture. Half of the department’s employees—nearly 2,250 individuals—have received QI training and the other half plan to do so within the next year. While the agency utilizes several QI approaches and tools, including Plan-Do-Study-Act and Lean, there are two tools they use consistently: fishbone diagrams and the five whys method. Read More »

2018 ASTHO Annual Meeting: A Look Ahead

June 14, 2018|10:52 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

Registration opened last week for ASTHO’s 2018 Annual Meeting. The meeting, happening Sept. 26-27 in Alexandria, VA, convenes over 300 public health leaders to discuss emerging trends in state and territorial public health, with this year’s theme focusing on building healthy and resilient communities. With the conference just a few months away, Amber Williams, ASTHO’s chief of leadership, governance, and state and territorial engagement, took a moment to answer a few questions about what to expect from this year’s meeting. Read More »

State Policy Approaches to Improve Drug Overdose Death Data

June 14, 2018|10:05 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

Interventions for the opioid epidemic, such as deploying naloxone kits, promoting safer prescribing, increasing access to medication-assisted treatment, coordinating public awareness campaigns, and implementing harm reduction approaches, depend on timely, high-quality, comprehensive data. This data is necessary to determine where to target these interventions and to whom, how and when they should be delivered, and what specific environments, systems, behaviors, beliefs, and attitudes they should address. The data required for these interventions often includes information that is collected for death certificates and results from the investigations of drug overdose deaths by medical examiners and coroners. Read More »

Mapping Out Public Health Successes and Challenges With Esri’s Este Geraghty

June 07, 2018|9:53 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

As a keynote speaker at ASTHO’s 2017 Annual Meeting and Policy Summit, Estella (Este) Geraghty, MD, chief medical officer and health solutions director at Esri, discussed how geospatial technologies are supporting planning and response efforts, as well as how public health leaders can use this work to address current issues such as the opioid epidemic, natural disasters, and vector-borne disease. Read More »

State Policies Aligning Health and Early Childhood Learning

May 17, 2018|2:27 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Evidence shows how early childhood education can serve as a protective factor against disease and disability as an adult. Conversely, a child’s health will impact his or her ability to learn and succeed in school and later in life. Even with these known positive connections between early learning and wellness, health and education systems sometimes fail to align and provide opportunities to maximize health and early learning outcomes for children. To address the disconnect between health and education, HHS and the U.S. Department of Education outlined a set of recommendations for states and communities to align health and early learning systems. These recommendations emphasize the need for a comprehensive, seamless, and coordinated set of systems to support children, parents, and families. Read More »

Montana’s State Medical Officer Discusses Public Health Priorities, Skills, and Challenges

May 17, 2018|2:08 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Gregory Holzman is state medical officer for the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS). Prior to this role, he worked in state and federal government as chief medical executive of the Michigan Department of Community Health and deputy director for CDC’s Office of State, Tribal, Local and Territorial Support (OSTLTS). Read More »

Medicaid Work Requirements: Update on Waivers and State Legislation

May 10, 2018|3:51 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

In January 2018, CMS issued guidance indicating that it would enable states to include work requirements within their Medicaid programs through Section 1115 waivers. Four Medicaid expansion states have obtained approval to apply work requirements to their expansion populations and press reports have speculated CMS’ new direction may encourage non-expansion states to expand Medicaid, in exchange for granting work requirements. However, the majority of states pursuing work requirements are not pursuing Medicaid expansion in exchange for them, but rather are seeking waivers to apply work requirements to their standard Medicaid populations. Standard Medicaid populations are dominated typically by children, expectant mothers, senior citizens, and people with disabilities. The Center for Budget and Public Policy Priorities and Georgetown’s Center for Children and Families have raised concerns about applying work requirements to any Medicaid population. To date, states pursuing work requirements are generally seeking to apply them only to very low-income parents or childless adults, with annual incomes ranging from $4,444-$16,460 for a family of two, depending on the state. Read More »

Member Spotlight: Howard Haft

May 10, 2018|10:31 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

Howard Haft, MD, is deputy secretary for public health at the Maryland Department of Health. Haft has 27 years of clinical experience in primary internal medicine and 10 years of hospital-based emergency medicine, clinical, and leadership experience. In addition to his considerable accomplishments in the medical field, Haft brings a strong entrepreneurial history to the role, with significant experience in improving health outcomes and innovative healthcare delivery. Among his numerous accomplishments, Haft co-founded ConMed Health Inc., a Maryland-based provider of correctional healthcare services to county and municipal detention facilities in 15 states, where he served as chief medical officer until his retirement in 2010. Haft also founded and served as president and medical director of the Maryland HealthCare Associates, where he established a multi-specialty medical practice. Read More »

Public Health Funding Trends and Implications for States: Inside the ASTHO Profile With RWJF's Carolyn Miller

May 07, 2018|3:58 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Carolyn E. Miller, MSHP, MA, is a senior program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), which co-funds the ASTHO Profile Survey of State and Territorial Public Health. Prior to joining RWJF, Miller held research positions with Mathematica Policy Research, the Gallup Organization, and Princeton Survey Research Associates International. Her research has spanned a range of issues including health and healthcare, public policy, public opinion, and survey research methodology. With this in mind, ASTHO spoke with Miller to discuss the ASTHO Profile report and its role in public and population health. Read More »

States Consider Fentanyl Testing Legislation

May 03, 2018|11:54 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

As state public health continues to address the opioid overdose epidemic, it is important to remember that the crisis is driven by the misuse and abuse of a variety of opiate forms, including prescription opioids, heroin, and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. Unfortunately, the past few years have witnessed a dramatic rise in synthetic opioid-involved deaths. In 2013, the number of such deaths was around 3,000. However, a recent article in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report reveals that synthetic opioids were involved in 19,413 overdose deaths in 2016—a 100 percent increase when compared to 2015 data. They now account for 45.9 percent of all opioid-involved deaths. Read More »

Member Spotlight: Rachel Levine

May 03, 2018|11:21 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

Rachel Levine, MD, is secretary of health and physician general of the Pennsylvania Department of Health. In these roles, Levine serves as the chief executive officer of the department and works to set the overall policy and direction, establish strategic goals and objectives, and participate in the decision-making process on policies relating to medical and public health issues. Levine has led significant efforts to combat the opioid epidemic and helped establish opioid prescribing guidelines and opioid prescribing education for medical students in the state of Pennsylvania. Read More »

Coming Together to Address America’s STD Crisis

April 26, 2018|3:33 p.m.| David C. Harvey, Executive Director, National Coalition of STD Directors (NCSD)

We are in a time of crisis when it comes to STDs in the United States. The trends are staggering, with reported cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis at historic levels, along with heartbreaking increases in congenital syphilis, and the specter of untreatable gonorrhea getting closer every day. Here at NCSD, we are ringing the alarm bell for the country and for Congress: We cannot afford to give STD prevention short shrift. Read More »

New Jersey Health Commissioner Shares Vision for Public Health in the Garden State

April 19, 2018|9:59 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

Shereef Elnahal is commissioner of health for the New Jersey Department of Health. Elnahal previously served as Assistant Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Quality, Safety, and Value at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), where he initially held a White House fellowship in 2015. In this capacity, Elnahal founded the Diffusion of Excellence Initiative to establish consistency in clinical and administrative best practices. Elnahal is a licensed physician with a dual-degree MD and MBA from Harvard University. Read More »

State Legislatures Strengthen Policies to Screen and Treat Sexually Transmitted Diseases

April 19, 2018|9:55 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

On April 6, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signed expedited partner therapy (EPT) legislation, which is only fitting, as April is STD awareness month. This year’s theme, “treat me right,” draws attention to the complementary roles, healthcare providers, and others play in addressing the growing problem of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in American communities. CDC estimates that each year there are at least 20 million new STD cases, and unfortunately, numbers have been trending in the wrong direction. Rates of gonorrhea, syphilis, and chlamydia increased between 2014 and 2016, with particularly concerning rises in cases of congenital syphilis, drug-resistant gonorrhea, and other STDs among young adults. Furthermore, funding to support evidence-based interventions has declined at federal, state, and local levels, leading to a decreased capacity in state and local health departments to identify and treat STD cases. Researchers estimate that STDs cost the United States 16 billion dollars in direct and healthcare costs annually. If left untreated, STDs can lead to increased rates of cervical and possibly ovarian cancer, as well as infertility and a host of other negative health outcomes. Read More »

FDA Announcements on Tobacco Products and What They Mean for Public Health

April 12, 2018|11:07 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

In March, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb announced three separate advanced notices of proposed rulemaking (ANPRMs) reducing nicotine levels in combustible cigarettes, regulating flavor in tobacco products, and adopting a different regulatory policy concerning premium cigars. These announcements, which ask the public to provide scientific research, data, and other information on the population health impacts of each potential tobacco policy by June, signal that the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products may, in the future, move to implement new tobacco product regulations under the authority given to it by 2009’s Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. Read More »

Member Spotlight: Lilian Peake

April 12, 2018|10:44 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

Lilian Peake is director of public health of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC). In this role, Peake provides overall strategic direction and leadership for the department’s public health division and ensures the delivery of appropriate, timely, and quality services in the department’s 77 public health service sites. . Read More »

ASTHO Shares Top Resources for State and Territorial Public Health Leaders

April 05, 2018|4:03 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

This week, ASTHO joins the American Public Health Association in celebrating National Public Health Week and in recognizing the great work happening across the nation to promote the public’s health and well-being. ASTHO supports, equips, and advocates for state and territorial health officials in their work to create the conditions for optimal health and protect America’s health security. Read More »

2018 State Legislation Addressing Naloxone

April 05, 2018|10:47 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

Over the past few years, several states have expanded access to naloxone, a medication that can reverse an opioid overdose. Many of these efforts include allowing prescribers to write naloxone prescriptions for third parties (e.g., friends and family members of those who are at risk of an opioid overdose) and permitting pharmacists to dispense or distribute naloxone without a patient-specific prescription, usually through a standing order, protocol, collaborative practice agreement, prescriptive authority, or direct legislative authority. With naloxone being such an important tool in countering overdose deaths during the current opioid epidemic, ASTHO is tracking state legislative activity impacting access to it. Below is a brief summary of legislation enacted this year that addresses the availability and dispensing of naloxone. Read More »

Massachusetts Sees Encouraging Decline in Overdose Deaths

April 05, 2018|10:25 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

Opioid-related overdose deaths in Massachusetts declined in 2017 by an estimated 8.3 percent compared to 2016. This is encouraging news, since it’s the first time in several years that Massachusetts has seen a year over year decline in overdose deaths. ASTHO spoke with Monica Bharel, MD, MPH, commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, about how the state is reducing overdose deaths in underserved populations, training medical students on preventing and managing substance use disorders, and navigating the continuing challenges associated with this epidemic. Read More »

State Lawmakers Propose Studying Effectiveness of Ibogaine for Treating Opioid Use Disorders

March 29, 2018|10:36 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

Throughout this year’s state legislative sessions, legislatures continue to pass and enact laws aimed at improving treatment and recovery options for substance use disorders, particularly opioid addiction. For example, Utah’s governor signed HB 99, which authorizes the state’s division of substance abuse and mental health to establish training and certification requirements for providing peer supports services to individuals with a substance use disorder and/or mental health disorder. The division is to develop rules for the types of services a peer support specialist may provide, as well as the supervision and continuing education requirements for peer support specialists. Read More »

Six Ways States Can Promote Colorectal Cancer Screening and Prevention

March 28, 2018|5:03 p.m.| Marcus Plescia, MD and Richard Wender, MD

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death among Americans, but it is largely preventable through screening and attention to risk factors. State health agencies have a long history of using evidence-based public health approaches to increase colorectal cancer screening rates and partnering with health systems and other national organizations, like the American Cancer Society, to reduce major risk factors. In recognition of National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, ASTHO Chief Medical Officer Marcus Plescia and Richard Wender, the American Cancer Society’s chief cancer control officer, identified six ways states can address colorectal cancer. Read More »

ASTHO Immediate Past President Jay Butler Reflects on 2018 Washington Week

March 22, 2018|4:20 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Last week, ASTHO hosted its 2018 Washington Week, convening state and territorial health officials in the nation’s capital to make the case for public health funding, advocate for additional resources to address the opioid epidemic, and meet with federal partners and leadership at HHS and the White House. ASTHO spoke with Immediate Past President Jay Butler (SHO-AK) about key takeaways following the week’s events. Read More »

Reducing the Stigma of Substance Use Disorder Prevention and Treatment

March 22, 2018|2:27 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

In a 1923 speech to the Royal College of Surgeons, Rudyard Kipling remarked, “Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind. Not only do words infect, ergotise, nacotise, and paralyse, but they enter into and colour the minutest cells of the brain.” As public health practitioners and policymakers continue to grapple with the effects of yet another powerful drug—opioids—Kipling’s insight into the influence of words is a reminder of how the terms and phrases we use can stigmatize the diagnoses and treatment of substance use disorders (SUD). . Read More »

States Explore Bills to Address Contraceptive Access in 2018

March 15, 2018|2:59 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Healthy People 2020 sets out national goals and science-based objectives to improve the lives and wellbeing of all Americans. One of the goals is to increase the proportion of women at risk of an unintended pregnancy and their partners who use contraception. State policymakers can leverage laws, regulations, and other policies to promote access to contraception in support of that goal. Read More »

Minnesota’s Game Plan for Super Bowl LII Ensures the Public’s Health and Safety

March 15, 2018|1:10 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Jan Malcolm is commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Health, where she previously served as commissioner from 1999-2003. Prior to her second appointment in January 2018, Malcolm was an adjunct faculty member at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. She has also worked as a senior program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, president of the Courage Kenny Foundation, and vice president of public affairs and philanthropy at Allina Health. She is a graduate of Dartmouth College. Read More »

Public Health Leaders Connect to Strengthen State and Federal Relations

March 14, 2018|5:14 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

On March 14, ASTHO hosted a workshop on leadership in government as part of this year’s Washington Week, convening more than two dozen state and territorial health officials for discussions on developing a deeper understanding of how federal organizations, processes, systems, and relationships related to public health work and how to interact effectively with government representatives and organizations. Read More »

ASTHO’s Government Affairs Chief Previews Washington Week and Shares Advice

March 08, 2018|3:52 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Next week, ASTHO is hosting its annual Washington Week to provide state and territorial health officials with opportunities to meet with various federal leaders and inform policymakers about public health priorities in their jurisdictions. ASTHO’s chief of government affairs, Carolyn Mullen, shares her thoughts on what ASTHO’s members and other public health leaders can expect. Read More »

State and Federal Legislation Surrounding Initial Opioid Prescriptions

March 08, 2018|3:38 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Late last month, a bill to address issues around the current opioid epidemic was introduced in Congress. The CARA 2.0 Act of 2018 includes provisions for neonatal abstinence syndrome, first responder training, expanding access to medication assisted treatment, and more. Another of the provisions would establish a three-day limit for the initial prescription of opioids for acute pain based on the CDC’s recommended guidelines for treatment of acute pain. Exceptions to the limit include: prescriptions for chronic pain, cancer treatment, end of life and hospice care, as well as substance use treatment medications. By the time the federal legislation was introduced, almost half of states had enacted laws or adopted rules dictating the length (or dosage) of initial opioid prescriptions for acute pain. Read More »

Project ECHO Uses Telehealth to Improve Population Health: What’s Next for States?

March 07, 2018|5:14 p.m.| Emily Moore

Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) is a virtual learning and training model that uses video teleconferencing to enable access to high-quality healthcare for underserved people all over the world. Founded at the University of New Mexico, Project ECHO’s goal is to touch the lives of one billion people by 2025. Read More »

State Legislation Surrounding Vaccine Exemptions

March 01, 2018|4:38 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Last week, the New York State Department of Health warned of potential exposure to measles in New York City and surrounding counties. According to the announcement, an Australian tourist with a confirmed case of measles visited several hotels, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and other venues in the area. While the risk of developing measles is very low, especially for those who have been immunized, it is highly contagious. According to CDC, “if one person has it, 90 percent of the people close to that person who are not immune will also become infected.” The Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) Vaccine can prevent measles and, with few exceptions, is required by state law for children entering school. Read More »

Comprehensive Addiction Treatment in Rhode Island's Correctional Facilities Yields Dramatic Drop in Overdose Deaths

February 28, 2018|2:36 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Gina M. Raimondo became the 75th governor of Rhode Island and the state’s first female governor on Jan. 6, 2015. She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard and later won a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University, where she earned a doctorate. Gov. Raimondo was also recognized by Fortune as one of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders in 2016. ASTHO spoke to Gov. Raimondo to learn more about a Rhode Island Department of Corrections initiative to help prevent and treat addiction among incarcerated individuals and other statewide efforts to combat the opioid epidemic. Read More »

New York State and Pennsylvania Strengthen State Biomonitoring Efforts for Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances

February 22, 2018|3:26 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

ASTHO recently awarded two $175,000 grants to the New York State Department of Health and the Pennsylvania Department of Health to support biomonitoring efforts for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Through this grant funded by CDC and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), these state health agencies will implement and evaluate CDC/ATSDR’s PFAS Exposure Assessment Technical Tools, which are designed to measure and evaluate community exposures to PFAS in drinking water. Read More »

Virginia’s Successful Clinical-Community Care Model to Address Hypertension Set to Expand Across the Commonwealth

February 22, 2018|3:16 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Marissa Levine was appointed Virginia State Health Commissioner by Gov. Terry McAuliffe effective March 14, 2014. Levine previously held the positions of chief deputy commissioner for public health and preparedness and deputy commissioner for public health and preparedness. Prior to this role, Levine directed local health departments in two districts within Virginia starting in 2002. Levine is a board-certified family physician who also received a Masters of Public Health degree from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Read More »

Overview of State Litigation to Combat the Opioid Epidemic

February 22, 2018|2:55 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

As opioid-related deaths continue to increase, state and local governments are directing more resources to healthcare and criminal justice systems to address the epidemic. All branches of state government are developing policies, programmatic interventions, and strategies to respond to this public health crisis. This includes disaster declarations issued by governors’ offices, state legislation, as well as litigation filed by state attorneys general (AGs) and other executive agencies. Read More »

Public Health Field Guide: How to Engage Payers in Addressing the Social Determinants of Health

February 21, 2018|10:38 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

Many policymakers recognize there is ample evidence to suggest the social determinants of health (SDoH) greatly influence health outcomes and spending. Research indicates that social factors, like childhood adversity and toxic stress, are so profound that they can alter gene expression and result in life-long effects on health. The healthcare system is ill-equipped to deal with these subsequent problems because 80 percent of factors that contribute to health status occur outside of clinical settings. Read More »

Engaging Communities and Healthcare Partners to Improve Heart Health: Progress and Opportunities for Public Health

February 15, 2018|2:38 p.m.| Marcus Plescia, MD, MPH

It seems fitting for Valentine’s Day to occur during American Heart Month, a national health observance that reminds Americans to focus on their hearts. Promoting heart health is an important duty for public health leaders, too. Cardiovascular disease is the most common cause of death in this country and a source of considerable suffering and disability. It’s also one of our success stories: Public health has made significant progress in reducing deaths from cardiovascular disease, mostly through tobacco control efforts and medical advances. However, following years of decline, these deaths rates are leveling off and additional action is needed to sustain progress and save countless lives—not just in February, but all year round. Read More »

An Early Look at Tobacco Legislative Trends in 2018

February 15, 2018|2:18 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Public health laws serve as a vital intervention to reduce the negative health effects and costs of tobacco use. Less than two months into 2018, ASTHO is already tracking close to 300 pieces of legislation that impact tobacco control efforts. Read More »

Member Spotlight: Alexia Harrist

February 15, 2018|1:26 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Alexia Harrist is state health officer and state epidemiologist of the Wyoming Department of Health’s Public Health Division. A board-certified pediatrician, Harrist entered public health after becoming an epidemic intelligence service officer assigned to the Wyoming Department of Health. She then worked as a medical officer in the Division of Tuberculosis Elimination at CDC prior to returning to Wyoming. Harrist earned her MD and PhD in neuroscience from the University of Pennsylvania. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Read More »

State Approaches to Treating Opioid Use Disorder With Medical Marijuana

February 08, 2018|3:51 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

With the opioid overdose death rate continuing to rise and an estimated 2.1 million people with opioid use disorder (OUD), the effective treatment of opioid addiction and dependence remains essential. Research shows that medication-assisted treatment (MAT)—the combination of counseling and behavioral therapies with one of three medications approved by FDA (i.e., methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone)—is an effective treatment. However, even with the development of a successful treatment, barriers to MAT access (e.g., insurance coverage and provider availability) remain. While efforts to increase access to MAT are being made—by expanding the types of providers who can administer MAT (e.g., through physician waivers for buprenorphine and waivers for nurse practitioners and physician assistants) and ensuring health insurance coverage for OUD treatment (e.g., both private and public payers)—attempts to add OUD to the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana are taking place in some states. Read More »

ASTHO Profile Report Supports Population Health

February 07, 2018|12:28 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

José Montero, MD, MHCDS, is deputy director of CDC, as well as director of the Office for State, Tribal, Local, and Territorial Support. In this position, Montero oversees support to the U.S. health departments, tribal nations, and insular areas, as well as activities designed to improve the public health system’s capacity and performance. Prior to CDC, Montero served as director of the Division of Public Health Services at the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services and as ASTHO President. Montero has extensive experience in public health leadership and in the prevention and control of infectious diseases. With this in mind, ASTHO spoke with Montero to discuss the ASTHO Profile report and its impact on public and population health. Read More »

Best Practices for States to Identify and Address Breast Cancer Disparities

February 02, 2018|12:46 p.m.| Josh Berry, MPH

To understand why the diagnosis is deadlier for some women, ASTHO was funded by CDC to create a breast cancer disparities learning community to help health departments in Arizona, Tennessee, and West Virginia identify and address the unique state and local disparities in breast cancer screening rates, the time it takes women to seek follow-up care after an abnormal test result, and cancer treatment quality. This work revealed many best practices, lessons learned, and resources to assist other health departments in addressing breast cancer disparities. Read More »

States Leverage Executive Authority to Address Severe Flu Season

February 01, 2018|3:34 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

With this year’s flu season still going strong, activities to prevent the spread of flu remain key. From handwashing to limiting contact with others when you are sick, each individual plays a role in reducing spread. It is not too late to get a flu vaccine and important to recognize flu symptoms and know when to seek treatment. Governors in Alabama and New York addressed expanding access to treatment and vaccines when they recently issued emergency declarations to address the flu in their states. Read More »

Member Spotlight: Scott Harris

February 01, 2018|3:17 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Scott Harris, MD, is acting state health officer of the Alabama Department of Public Health. Harris joined the department of public health in 2015 after practicing medicine for more than 20 years. He is one of the founding members of the Community Free Clinic of Decatur-Morgan County, a nonprofit that provides free medical care to the uninsured. Harris served as the clinic’s medical director from 2004-2015. He continues to serve on the clinic’s board. Read More »

How Family Physicians Are Addressing the Social Determinants of Health (and Where Public Health Leaders Can Engage)

January 31, 2018|3:41 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Health outcomes are inextricably linked to the social and physical environments in which we are born, live, work, play, and age. The Healthy People 2020 framework reflects key categories of social determinants of health, encompassing economic stability and income, the neighborhood and built environment, education, the social context, and access to healthcare services. Read More »

Report indicates e-cigarettes may have benefits for individuals but an overall negative impact on society

January 30, 2018|7:17 p.m.| Marcus Plescia, MD, MPH

On Jan. 23, the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a report that has important implications for public health practice. The report is the first to systematically address a number of important scientific and health questions that have emerged as use of electronic cigarettes has become widespread. Read More »

Telehealth is an Innovative Population Health Strategy

January 29, 2018|11:57 a.m.| Emily Moore

Telehealth is a growing innovation used by healthcare providers and state health agencies to increase access to healthcare and public health services, address health disparities affecting vulnerable populations, and reduce healthcare costs. Telehealth is defined as the use of electronic information and telecommunication technologies to support and promote long-distance clinical healthcare, patient and professional health-related education, public health, and health administration. For rural and underserved areas in particular, telehealth can reduce transportation barriers and address workforce shortages. Read More »

Supporting and Integrating Community Health Workers: Leadership Opportunities for State Public Health Agencies

January 26, 2018|11:57 a.m.| Anna Bartels

Improved population health lies at the intersection of clinical healthcare delivery and community-focused public health. Community health workers (CHWs) have a unique ability to bridge these two fields and address both individual and community health. Read More »

State Marijuana Legislation – The Landscape After Attorney General Policy Shift

January 25, 2018|2:17 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Earlier this month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded several Department of Justice (DOJ) memoranda which set guidance for the enforcement of federal marijuana prohibitions. In doing away with the Cole memo (adult-use marijuana), the Ogden memo (medical marijuana), and the Wilkinson memo (tribal issues), Sessions is leaving the federal investigation and prosecution of marijuana activities to the discretion of the various U.S. attorneys across the country. Since state and territorial health agencies are often legislatively delegated key roles and responsibilities in medical marijuana programs the reaction to the rescission is being closely watched by state public health. Read More »

Member Spotlight: Kristina Box

January 25, 2018|11:38 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

Kristina Box, MD, is state health commissioner of the Indiana State Department of Health. Prior to this, Box worked as a practicing obstetrician and gynecologist in Indianapolis, starting her career at Community Hospitals of Indianapolis as a private practitioner with Clearvista Women's Care. Since 2015, Box has served as the physician lead for Community Health Network's Women's Service Line. In addition, Box has served on the Indiana Perinatal Quality Improvement Collaborative, an advisory council to the Indiana State Department of Health comprised of more than 300 statewide community professionals working to reduce infant mortality. Box earned her undergraduate degree at Indiana University in Bloomington and her medical doctorate at the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis. She is a member of several professional organizations, including the Indiana State Medical Association, and serves on many hospital committees. Read More »

CMS Announces New Policy Guidance for States on Medicaid Work Requirements

January 24, 2018|4:21 p.m.| Emily Moore

On Jan. 11, 2018, CMS announced new policy guidance allowing states to test participation in work or other community engagement as a requirement for continued Medicaid eligibility or coverage for certain Medicaid adult beneficiaries through demonstration projects authorized under section 1115 of the Social Security Act. Read More »

As Flu Season Intensifies State Public Health Leaders Offer Advice

January 18, 2018|4:12 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

On Jan. 17, ASTHO hosted a media call with the press, as well as state public health leaders from California, Colorado, and Rhode Island, to discuss this year’s deadly flu season and what individuals can do to protect themselves and their families. Influenza is now widespread throughout the country, with pediatric deaths and flu-associated hospitalizations reported at much higher rates than the previous two flu seasons. According to CDC’s Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report for the week ending on Jan. 6, a total of 6,486 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations and 20 influenza-associated pediatric deaths have been reported. Read More »

Member Spotlight: Karen McKeown

January 18, 2018|2:29 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Karen McKeown is the state health officer and administrator of the division of public health in the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. As an oncology staff nurse and leader for 11 years, McKeown previously oversaw the clinical operations of inpatient and outpatient oncology departments. McKeown’s health policy experience includes a student fellowship with the U.S. Senate finance committee and a graduate fellowship with the Heritage Foundation. McKeown holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas in Tyler, as well as a master’s degree in nursing management, policy, and leadership from Yale University. Read More »

Member Spotlight: John Wiesman

January 11, 2018|4:09 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

John Wiesman is president of ASTHO and secretary of health for the Washington State Department of Health. The department of health in Washington is a cabinet-level agency in a decentralized state, with 35 local, independent health departments governed by their own boards of health and more than 1,700 employees overseeing public health areas such as: disease control and epidemiology, health promotion, vital statistics, environmental public health, state public health laboratories, health professions and facility licensing, rural health, and emergency preparedness and response. Read More »

Emergency Declarations in Eight States to Address the Opioid Epidemic

January 11, 2018|3:55 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

South Carolina and Pennsylvania recently joined Arizona, Florida, Maryland, Alaska, Virginia, and Massachusetts in issuing statewide emergency declarations to address the opioid epidemic. (A review of the earlier declarations can be found here). While emergency declarations typically address natural disasters or infectious disease outbreaks, the growing trend of invoking emergency powers for opioids highlights the actions states are willing to take in response to an increasing number of overdose deaths. As more states leverage their emergency authorities to address opioids, the sophistication and creativity of using such powers is emerging. Read More »

ASTHO’s New CMO Brings Clinical Perspective to Public Health

January 04, 2018|3:00 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Marcus Plescia is chief medical officer of ASTHO. For the past fifteen years, Plescia has served in public health leadership roles at the state, local, and federal levels, including director of chronic disease for the North Carolina Division of Public Heath, director of national cancer control programs at CDC, and county public health director in Charlotte, NC. Prior to this, Plescia spent ten years in academic family medicine, teaching medical students and family medicine residents and providing patient care. In addition, Plescia has remained active in public health research, publishing in medical and public health literature and serving as principle investigator of REACH 2010, a large, CDC-funded health disparities intervention project. Read More »

Early Legislative Activity on Opioids

January 04, 2018|1:33 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

As 2018 begins, several state and territorial legislatures are convening and commencing debates and deliberations. Throughout the year, ASTHO will provide real-time legislative tracking on a range of public health issues, including vaccinations, tobacco control, marijuana, and antimicrobial resistance. ASTHO’s legislative tracking for opioids, substance use, and addiction will be organized around the four key strategies identified in ASTHO’s Prevention Opioid Misuse in the States and Territories framework: monitoring and surveillance, prevention and education, reducing and managing access, and treatment and recovery. Less than a week into the New Year, it is clear that responding to the opioid epidemic remains a priority for lawmakers with several legislative proposals addressing the framework’s strategies. Read More »

Alaska Confronts the Opioid Epidemic in its Remote Communities

December 21, 2017|4:47 p.m.| Matthew Oglesby

Jay Butler, MD, ASTHO immediate past-president and chief medical officer of the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, recently took a trip to Prince of Wales Island, Ketchikan, and Petersberg, where community partners are emphasizing the multiple levels of prevention to confront the opioid epidemic together. Read More »

ASTHO’s Year in Review: Successes and 2018 Outlook

December 21, 2017|4:27 p.m.| Michael Fraser, Executive Director, ASTHO

ASTHO accomplished a great deal in 2017. While I certainly enjoy looking back at our successes from this past year, my real enthusiasm is for the year ahead—we have so much great work to continue with state and territorial health officials in 2018. Below is a look back at a few highlights from this year and what’s to come in 2018. Read More »

State Opioid Response Plans for 2018

December 21, 2017|1:23 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

In 2017, policymakers across the country built on existing laws, partnerships, and programs, as well as created new ones, to stem substance use, dependency, and addiction. Throughout 2018, ASTHO will continue to track this legislation, share best and emerging practices, and advocate with federal partners for increased support and resources as state health departments undertake these vital efforts. Read More »

ASTHO’s 75th Anniversary: A Retrospective

December 21, 2017|10:16 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

This year, ASTHO celebrated its 75th anniversary and the significant achievements of its members, who have been on the frontlines of protecting and promoting the public’s health for decades. In 1935, following the enactment of the Social Security Act, state and territorial health officials recognized the need to organize and unify as a single voice. Seven years later, on March 23, 1942, ASTHO was incorporated, with the core mission of helping public health officials improve health and wellness in states and territories. Since then, ASTHO has been involved in nearly every significant public health crisis this nation has faced, including supporting response to the H1N1 pandemic, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, threat from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, and, more recently, providing decisive leadership as the nation makes great strides against the threat posed by Zika virus and we continue to combat the national opioid epidemic. Read More »

Jay Butler Represents ASTHO at AMA House of Delegates Interim Meeting

December 14, 2017|4:56 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

On Nov. 11-14, ASTHO Immediate Past-President Jay Butler, chief medical officer for the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, attended the American Medical Association’s (AMA) House of Delegates Interim Meeting. Read More »

State Strategies Encouraging Vaccination

December 14, 2017|2:18 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

With flu season underway, there is still time to get vaccinated and help reduce the spread of flu. As the year ends and 2018 begins, ASTHO will continue to track state and territorial vaccination legislation and keep members informed. Read More »

Relish Rhody: Rhode Island’s Innovative Comprehensive Food Strategy

December 14, 2017|12:38 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

A community’s food scene is a central part of what makes it an attractive place to live, visit, and raise a family or business. In an effort to grow Rhode Island’s economy and support healthy families and communities, Rhode Island developed a comprehensive food strategy known as Relish Rhody. With the support of many partners, Relish Rhody envisions a sustainable, equitable food system that builds on Rhode Island’s traditions, strengths, and history while encouraging innovation and supporting the local food economy in a way that benefits all Rhode Islanders. Read More »

Striving to Improve Influenza Immunization Uptake in Hispanic Adults in New York State

December 08, 2017|10:53 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

While scientific data and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agree that the influenza (flu) vaccine is the best way to prevent and reduce the number and severity of illnesses caused by the influenza virus, lower flu vaccination coverage persists within the U.S. population and is even lower in racial and ethnic minorities. Specifically, in New York State, influenza and pneumonia is ranked in the top five leading causes of death among Hispanics, in part due to lower rates of vaccine coverage due to vaccine hesitancy. Vaccine hesitancy is a behavior in which individuals may delay or refuse vaccines due to a variety of factors including misconceptions or misinformation about vaccines, lack of general knowledge about vaccines, and other socio-cultural factors. Read More »

Qualifying Conditions for Medical Marijuana

December 07, 2017|4:57 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Currently, 31 states and territories, as well as Washington, D.C., authorize the use of medical marijuana and establish the qualifying or debilitating conditions a person must have before being allowed to use it. While all legislatures can add or remove the conditions for medical marijuana, many have delegated the authority to approve new qualifying or debilitating conditions to state and territorial health agencies. Read More »

Member Spotlight: Lance Himes

December 07, 2017|1:27 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Lance Himes is director for the Ohio Department of Health. Before serving as director, Himes served in the agency’s legal department for more than 10 years, where he oversaw several attorneys and office staff. A successful public health attorney, Himes played a significant role in the legal implementation of Ohio’s smoke-free workplace law and rules, as well as an extensive overhaul of Ohio’s sewage treatment regulations, which helped reform the laws for the first time since 1977. As director, Himes helps drive the mission of the Ohio Department of Health—that is, to protect and improve the health of all Ohioans by preventing disease, promoting good health, and assuring access to quality care. Read More »

Tobacco Companies Highlight Deadly Health Effects of Smoking

December 01, 2017|11:13 a.m.| Marcus Plescia and Erin Boles Welsh

By the time the Pilgrims celebrated their first Thanksgiving in 1621, tobacco was an established agricultural commodity. John Rolfe is credited with introducing commercial cultivation of tobacco in Jamestown in 1612, with the first shipment sent to England in 1617. Even then, critics raised concerns about the adverse health effects of tobacco, including King James I, who described it as “loathsome to the eye, hateful to the nose, harmful to the brain, dangerous to the lungs, and in the black and stinking fume thereof, nearest resembling the horrible stygian smoke of the pit that is bottomless.”. Read More »

State Legislation to Prevent Antibiotic Resistant Infections

November 30, 2017|3:44 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Each year, antibiotic resistant infections are responsible for approximately two million illnesses and 23,000 deaths in the United States. In 2017, ASTHO tracked state legislation aimed at preventing antibiotic resistance. Read More »

Member Spotlight: Thomas Williams

November 30, 2017|3:13 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Thomas Williams, MD, serves a dual role as chief medical officer and director of the Division of Public Health for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. Prior to this, Williams, an anatomic and clinical pathologist with subspecialty expertise in chemical pathology, practiced medicine at the Nebraska Methodist Hospital. Read More »

Preparedness From the Field: Harry Bruce Jeffries, Jr.

November 21, 2017|4:27 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Harry Bruce Jeffries, Jr., commonly known as Jeff, is the deputy director of health protection at the Georgia Department of Public Health. In this role, Jeff oversees the state’s Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP), Pubic Health Emergency Preparedness Program (PHEP), immunization section, Office of Refugee Health, and Office of Pharmacy. . Read More »

ASTHO Thanks the Public Health Community!

November 17, 2017|3:00 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Today, ASTHO joins Research!America in celebrating Public Health Thank You Day—an opportunity to thank all of the dedicated public health professionals for their tireless work and service in helping to protect and improve the health of all people and communities. To show their gratitude for the public health workforce, members of ASTHO’s board of directors shared a few personal messages, each detailing what they are most thankful for as public health leaders. . Read More »

Opioid-related Overdoses as a Reportable Condition

November 16, 2017|4:03 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

While data shows a dramatic rise in the opioid-related overdose death rate, the rate of nonfatal opioid overdoses remains a mystery. Accurate and timely information about nonfatal opioid-related overdoses can be used to identify areas where health agencies can increase intervention measures. It can also be used by community outreach organizations to provide additional resources. . Read More »

The Power of Rural: Kim Malsam-Rysdon Discusses South Dakota Efforts to Improve Rural Health

November 13, 2017|5:39 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

On the third Thursday of November each year, the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health celebrates National Rural Health Day to highlight public health and healthcare successes in rural communities across the country and provide an opportunity to discuss the challenges these communities face. With this in mind, ASTHO spoke with Kim Malsam-Rysdon, secretary of health for the South Dakota State Department of Health, to discuss South Dakota’s efforts to improve rural health statewide. Read More »

How to Make an Impact in the Lives of Low-Income and Rural Tobacco Users

November 13, 2017|3:44 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

According to CDC, factors like income level and whether one lives in a metropolitan, urban, or rural area have a significant impact on one’s likelihood to smoke cigarettes or use other tobacco products. To gain a better perspective on tobacco control initiatives designed for rural and low-income tobacco users, ASTHO spoke with Donald R. Reed Jr. – a tobacco treatment specialist and faculty member with the West Virginia University Extension Service in McDowell County – after he participated in a Truth Initiative Warner Series panel discussion on eliminating tobacco use disparities. Reed’s insights on and experiences with reaching out to rural and low-income West Virginians can inform state and territorial health department efforts to deliver tobacco-free messaging and resources to populations that disproportionately shoulder the health burdens of tobacco use. Read More »

Economic Research, Policy, and Infant Health

November 09, 2017|4:48 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Recent research is expanding our understanding of how social and economic factors impact child health. Through research such as this, public health leaders are better positioned to serve as chief health strategists and partner across sectors to improve outcomes surrounding infant mortality and low birthweight. Read More »

Member Spotlight: Lillian Shirley

November 09, 2017|1:48 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Lillian Shirley is director for the Oregon Public Health Division. Before coming to Oregon, Shirley served as director of public health for the city of Boston and executive director of the Boston Health Commission, where she led the agency through the establishment, design, and organization of the new public health authority in Boston. A local and a national leader in advancing public health, Shirley has served on the boards of the Public Health Foundation, the Oregon Public Health Institute, and the Portland Sustainable Development Commission. In addition, Shirley was president of the National Association of City and County Health Officials. She received the National Public Health Institute’s Balderson Award and has been recognized by Research America as a public health hero. Read More »

Opioid Commission Recommendations and the Three-Day Rule

November 02, 2017|11:52 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

This week, the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis released its final report setting out 55 recommendations for addressing the national opioid crisis. The recommendations address issues such as federal funding and programs, opioid addiction prevention, and research and development. Read More »

Member Spotlight: Ed Ehlinger

November 02, 2017|10:36 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

Ed Ehlinger, MD, is commissioner of health for the Minnesota Department of Health. As commissioner, Ehlinger is responsible for directing the work of the Minnesota Department of Health, which is dedicated to protecting, maintaining, and improving the health of all Minnesotans. A past-president of ASTHO, Ehlinger previously served as director and chief health officer at Boynton Health Service at the University of Minnesota, as well as director of Personal Health Services for the Minneapolis Health Department. Read More »

Jim Blumenstock Leads ASTHO Public Health Preparedness Efforts

October 26, 2017|2:01 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Jim Blumenstock is chief program officer for health security at ASTHO. His portfolio includes emergency preparedness and response, infectious and emerging diseases, immunization services, and environmental health. As an expert in public health preparedness, Blumenstock leads ASTHO’s state and territorial preparedness efforts, helping to ensure our nation’s health security. Read More »

States Using Coverage and Reimbursement Policy to Address the Opioid Epidemic

October 26, 2017|12:55 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Earlier this month, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) approved West Virginia’s demonstration waiver to create a continuum of care for individuals with substance use disorders (SUD). CMS has promoted the use of such waivers to address the opioid epidemic by implementing state-level delivery system reforms that ensure access to high-quality, evidence-based treatment and recovery services. Read More »

Using Environmental Public Health Tracking to Improve Health in Colorado: An Interview with Martha Rudolph

October 25, 2017|11:56 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

ASTHO recently spoke with Martha Rudolph, director of environmental programs at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), about how environmental public health tracking program has helped protect Colorado communities. Read More »

What a Federal Emergency Declaration for Opioids Might Look Like for States

October 19, 2017|4:40 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Earlier this week, President Trump stated that a “major announcement” about the opioid crisis would be coming shortly, probably by next week. There are a few ways the federal government could go about in declaring the opioid crisis an emergency. Below is a brief summary of the measures that could be taken at the federal level and some of the potential impacts on states. Read More »

Member Spotlight: Christopher Pezzullo

October 19, 2017|3:47 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Christopher Pezzullo, DO, is state health officer for the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). A graduate of the University of New England College Of Osteopathic Medicine, Pezzullo has practiced medicine for more than 20 years as a pediatrician. Pezzullo previously served as the medical director of the division of population health at the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention and chief medical officer for University Health Care. Pezzullo’s clinical interests include developmental, behavioral, and integrative pediatrics. He and his family reside in Cape Elizabeth. Read More »

Public Health Leaders On Past Achievements and Future Challenges

October 12, 2017|3:52 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

With ASTHO’s 75th anniversary drawing to a close, it is important to look back and reflect on the most important public health achievements from the past 75 years, as well as anticipate issues and challenges the public health community might need to address in the coming years. With this in mind, ASTHO reached out to several public health leaders and keynote speakers from this year’s annual meeting to help answer these questions. Read More »

A Look Back at ASTHO’s “75 Ways” Campaign Featuring State and Territorial Public Health Successes

October 12, 2017|12:17 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

ASTHO launched a social media campaign to showcase successful public health initiatives and outcomes from every state, U.S. territory, and freely associated state. Visit our website to view the full collection of successes featured in the campaign as part of ASTHO’s 75th anniversary. Read More »

State Legislation Encouraging Access to Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder

October 05, 2017|3:59 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Recognizing the important need for state and territorial public health to be a leading voice during the current opioid epidemic, ASTHO will continue to highlight public health policy approaches for the prevention and treatment of opioid use disorder. Read More »

Member Spotlight: Mark Levine

October 05, 2017|12:00 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Mark Levine, MD, is commissioner of the Vermont Department of Health. Levine comes to the position from a background as a clinician-educator, practicing and teaching internal medicine, as well as a variety of administrative roles in graduate medical education at the University of Vermont and UVM Medical Center. Before being appointed commissioner, Levine served as a longstanding member of the Vermont Department of Health’s primary care-public health integration workgroup. Read More »

ASTHO’s Caregivers Learning Community Discusses Public Health Collaboration to Support Caregivers

September 29, 2017|9:33 a.m.| Tequam Tiruneh, MPH, Analyst, Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, ASTHO

Eighty seven percent of U.S. adults aged 65 and above want to stay in their homes and communities as they age, according to AARP. A study titled “The Meaning of Aging in Place to Older People” found that one of the key reasons older adults prefer to age in their homes is their perception that it would allow them to maintain their independence and autonomy. As a result of this, studies have found that about 34.2 million Americans provided unpaid care to an adult age 50 or older in the last 12 months. Over the past decade, there has been a steady increase in the estimated value of services provided by informal caregivers. These include help with personal care and activities such as providing transportation and paying medical bills. The economic value of caregivers was $470 billion in 2013, which showed an increase from its estimated value of $370 billion in 2007. Informal caregivers are individuals who provide daily care to permanently or temporarily disabled family members or friends. Read More »

Member Spotlight: John J. Dreyzehner

September 28, 2017|4:17 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

John Dreyzehner, MD, is commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Health. A physician with more than 25 years of service in clinical and public health leadership at the federal, state, and local levels, Dreyzehner also practiced in the field of addiction medicine for several years while working to bring attention to the public health aspects of the now well-recognized epidemic. As commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Health, Dreyzehner leads an agency with more than 3,500 full-time employees and more than 120 physical locations in all 95 counties in Tennessee. . Read More »

State Legislation Surrounding Medical Marijuana

September 28, 2017|1:06 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

With 29 states, two territories, and Washington, D.C. now allowing marijuana to be grown, processed, and sold for medical purposes, it is likely that more states will consider the issue during next year’s legislative sessions or through ballot initiatives next fall. ASTHO will continue to explore the ways states are responding to medical marijuana and will assist state health agencies as they consider and implement programs. Read More »

Day Two: ASTHO Annual Meeting Recap

September 21, 2017|2:32 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

ASTHO Executive Director Mike Fraser opened the second day of ASTHO’s annual meeting by presenting Immediate Past President Jay C. Butler with an award recognizing his contributions, leadership, and dedication to ASTHO over the past year. Read More »

ASTHO Policy Summit & Anniversary Gala Recap

September 20, 2017|8:45 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Policy Summit – ASTHO kicked off with a policy summit featuring leader-to-leader executive roundtable sessions and a keynote luncheon address from Andrew Gurman, immediate past president of the American Medical Association (AMA) who spoke about AMA’s advocacy efforts on key public health issues such as reversing the opioid epidemic, healthcare reform, and greater transparency surrounding pharmaceutical pricing. ASTHO 75th Anniversary Gala – The evening honored public health leaders and celebrated the power of state and territorial public health. Nirav Shah, senior vice president and chief operations officer of clinical operations at Kaiser Permanente, Southern California, gave the keynote address on the importance of standardization, innovation, and transparency in healthcare and public health systems change. “We need to embrace bottom-up, community-directed solutioning, tied to evidence-based strategies supported by a transparency agenda,” Shah advised. An awards reception followed in which ASTHO recognized its 2017 leadership awardees. Read More »

ASTHO Announces Winners of First-Ever PH WINS Challenge

September 20, 2017|5:36 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Earlier this summer, ASTHO partnered with the de Beaumont Foundation to launch the first-ever national “Public Health Workforce Interests and Needs Survey (PH WINS) Model Policies and Practices Challenge.” As part of the PH WINS Research to Action initiative, this challenge highlights workforce innovations that are changing the public health field and demonstrating a strategic investment in the future of the national public health workforce. ASTHO and the de Beaumont Foundation issued the PH WINS Challenge to a range of governmental health organizations, including local, state, and territorial health agencies. These organizations competed to have their most successful and transformative workforce development programs recognized as models in their fields and to win one of three $10,000 prizes—best state or territorial, best local, and best overall policy. Read More »

ASTHO Recognizes Tennessee, Texas, South Carolina, and Virginia with 2017 Vision Awards

September 20, 2017|5:22 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

On Sept. 20, ASTHO presented four state health departments with 2017 Vision Awards during an Innovation and Leadership Awards Reception at the 2017 ASTHO Annual Meeting. Created in 1990, the awards honor outstanding state and territorial health department programs and initiatives that use creative approaches to address public health issues and challenges. The Vision Awards promote awareness and provide peer recognition to successful state and territorial health programs. Read More »

State Legislation Surrounding Disaster Relief and Preparedness

September 14, 2017|3:45 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

As Texas, Louisiana, Florida, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and other areas impacted by hurricanes Harvey and Irma recover, other states may wonder about their own emergency recovery abilities. ASTHO’s legislative tracking has identified a few recent examples of state legislation related to recovering from disasters and ensuring community resiliency. Read More »

New York State Leads The Way In Sepsis Regulation

September 12, 2017|3:46 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

In May 2013, New York State became the first state to issue sepsis regulations, also known as “Rory’s Regulations,” mandating that all New York hospitals adopt, develop, and implement best practices for the early detection and timely treatment of sepsis. The regulations aim to equip hospitals with the systems and knowledge necessary to prevent harm or death to patients who are at risk of suffering from sepsis. ASTHO spoke with Howard Zucker, MD, JD, commissioner of health of New York State Department of Health, to learn more about statewide efforts to regulate sepsis. . Read More »

State Sepsis Policies

September 07, 2017|3:58 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Sepsis occurs when a body’s immune system overwhelmingly responds to an infection and triggers widespread inflammation. In 2017, ASTHO tracked state legislation addressing sepsis and will continue to monitor these bills as state policymakers and state and federal health agencies take critical steps to detect and treat sepsis. Read More »

The Role of State Public Health in Combatting Syphilis: A Conversation with CDC’s Gail Bolan

September 07, 2017|1:49 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Once on the brink of elimination, rates of syphilis are now on the rise in the United States. CDC data shows that in 2015, cases of primary and secondary syphilis—the earliest and most infectious stages of the disease—are higher than they have been in 20 years. To combat the resurgence of syphilis, CDC is working with federal agencies and key partners to raise awareness. In April, CDC released a call to action, which outlines specific steps that state and local health departments, healthcare providers, and other stakeholders can take to reverse this emerging public health threat. Read More »

Member Spotlight: Howard Zucker

September 07, 2017|12:47 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Howard Zucker, MD, JD, is commissioner of health of the New York State Department of Health. The mission of the New York State Department of Health is to protect, improve, and promote the health, productivity, and well-being of all New Yorkers. The department provides services for individuals and families, providers and professionals, and health facilities regarding public health issues statewide. Read More »

Legislation Surrounding Disaster Relief

August 31, 2017|3:01 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

As Texas and Louisiana continue to respond to the devastation wrought by Harvey, other states may wonder about their own emergency preparedness and response abilities. ASTHO’s legislative tracking has identified a few states that considered changes to their laws for responding to emergencies. Read More »

Member Spotlight: Kim Malsam-Rysdon

August 31, 2017|1:41 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Kim Malsam-Rysdon is cabinet secretary of the South Dakota Department of Health. The mission of the South Dakota Department of Health is to promote, protect, and improve the health of every South Dakotan. The department provides maternal and child health services, disease prevention and intervention, regulation of healthcare and other entities, correctional healthcare services, and public health preparedness and response services across the state. . Read More »

State Laws Surrounding Medical Marijuana Reciprocity

August 24, 2017|4:50 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

As more states legalize medical marijuana, questions may arise about whether dispensaries can provide marijuana to patients who are registered in other states. Maine and Nevada appear to be the only two states that allow visiting qualifying patients to purchase medical marijuana products from in-state dispensaries. As other states consider the reciprocity issue, lessons can be learned from Maine and Nevada’s experience. Read More »

The Minnesota Department of Health Responds to Measles Outbreak: An Interview with Kristen Ehresmann

August 24, 2017|4:20 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Measles is a highly contagious disease that can be prevented with two major vaccinations: the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine and the measles, mumps, rubella and varicella (MMRV) vaccine. The rate of measles in Minnesota began to rise in April 2017. As of July 13, 2017, there have been 79 confirmed cases of Measles in the state of Minnesota, 71 of which linked to unvaccinated populations. In response to this outbreak, Kristen Ehresmann, director of the infectious disease epidemiology, prevention, and control division at the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), worked closely with Ed Ehlinger, commissioner of health, to lead statewide efforts to increase vaccination rates and awareness. Read More »

The Minnesota Department of Health Responds to Measles Outbreak: An Interview with Ed Ehlinger

August 24, 2017|4:10 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Measles is a highly contagious disease that can be prevented with two major vaccinations: the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine and the measles, mumps, rubella and varicella (MMRV) vaccine. The rate of measles in Minnesota began to rise in April 2017. As of July 13, 2017, there have been 79 confirmed cases of Measles in the state of Minnesota, 71 of which linked to unvaccinated populations. In response to this outbreak, The Minnesota Department of Health worked closely with community leaders and state health organizations to increase vaccination rates and awareness. . Read More »

How to Maximize Limited Resources through Cross-Sector Partnerships

August 22, 2017|12:01 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Addressing the social determinants of health and supporting coordinated and integrated service delivery can lead to reduced healthcare spending and improved health outcomes. In recognition of this potential, new partnerships are rapidly developing between healthcare, community-based organizations, health and human service agencies, and other sectors and groups including those concerned with transportation, housing, food security, and public safety. As momentum grows, public health leaders can help shape the work already happening on the ground and effectively coordinate public and private resources. Read More »

Massachusetts Uses Data Sharing to Combat the Opioid Epidemic

August 17, 2017|4:43 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Substance misuse and abuse is becoming increasingly prevalent in the United States. In response to a growing opioid overdose rate in Massachusetts, Monica Bharel, MD, commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Health, has made it a priority to utilize data sharing and assessment to combat the epidemic. Read More »

Renée Joskow Discusses the Importance of Oral Health to Overall Health

August 16, 2017|10:49 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

Oral health is fundamentally linked to the overall health and well-being of both the individual and the community. Improved population health will require integration between many sectors, including oral health, primary medical care, public health, human services, social services, and behavioral health services. ASTHO spoke with Renée Joskow, DDS, MPH, chief dental officer for the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), about federal efforts to support this work, emphasizing the importance of oral health integration with other public health and clinical care activities. Read More »

State Legislation Exploring the Use of Community Health Workers

August 10, 2017|3:07 p.m.| Crystal El-Khatib, Intern, State Health Policy

ASTHO is currently tracking over 30 bills from 14 states and Washington, D.C. that address the role of community health workers. This year, bills have successfully passed legislatures in Connecticut, Minnesota, and Missouri. ASTHO will continue to monitor and share these and other innovative ways states are leveraging community health workers to improve health and wellbeing. Read More »

State Legislation Surrounding Breastfeeding Accommodations for Parenting Students

August 03, 2017|2:58 p.m.| ASTHO State Health Policy Staff

Public health practitioners and advocates celebrate National Breastfeeding Month in August. This year the theme is “Charting the Course Together,” which aims to “build and reinforce the connections between breastfeeding and a broad spectrum of other health topics and initiatives.” One connection that has drawn the attention of state lawmakers is expanding breastfeeding accommodations for parenting students. Read More »

Texas Leads in the Fight for Zika Prevention

August 03, 2017|12:41 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

With the summer and mosquito season in full swing, ASTHO spoke with John Hellerstedt, MD, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS). Read More »

Member Spotlight – Rahul Gupta

July 27, 2017|3:06 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Rahul Gupta, MD, is state health officer and commissioner of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Bureau for Public Health. Read More »

Oregon Expands Pharmacists’ Authority to Dispense Contraceptives

July 27, 2017|2:25 p.m.| ASTHO State Health Policy Staff

Leveraging the role of pharmacists is one approach that states have been exploring to address barriers to contraceptive access. In 2015, Oregon enacted a bill that allowed pharmacists to dispense self-administered oral contraceptives and hormonal contraceptive patches. During the 2017 legislative session, Oregon lawmakers expanded on this policy. Read More »

Prescription Drug Monitoring Program Legislation Update

July 20, 2017|3:30 p.m.| ASTHO State Health Policy Staff

Missouri recently became the final state to create a prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP). While Missouri’s PDMP is just getting started, several states spent time this year making changes to laws surrounding their programs. As PDMPs evolve from a law enforcement tool to an instrument used by state health departments to tackle the opioid crisis, ASTHO will continue to monitor the changes state legislatures make to enhance them. Read More »

Member Spotlight: Mylynn Tufte

July 19, 2017|10:33 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

In February 2017, Mylynn Tufte was appointed state health officer of The North Dakota Department of Health by Gov. Doug Burgum. Read More »

States Explore Approaches to Reduce Consumption of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages

July 13, 2017|12:10 p.m.| KT Kramer and Andy Baker-White

States Explore Approaches to Reduce Consumption of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages. Read More »

Member Spotlight: Randall Williams

July 12, 2017|3:12 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

In February 2017, Randall Williams, MD, was appointed director of The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services by Gov. Eric Greitens. He previously served as deputy secretary for health and state health director of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. . Read More »

Actionable Data Sharing: John Auerbach Discusses the Importance of Data-Driven Policies and Programs

July 10, 2017|12:27 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

The health landscape is shifting, and partnerships are rapidly forming between public health, clinical partners, human services, and other sectors. State public health leaders can guide and support these partnerships with several strategies, including the use of data that displays patterns and trends within and across communities and informs decisionmaking to improve population health. Improved access to and analysis of cross sector data has the potential to generate new information and help partners most effectively allocate scarce resources through targeted interventions. Read More »

Member Spotlight: Wendy Braund

July 06, 2017|3:50 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

Wendy Braund, MD, MPH, has been state health officer and senior administrator of the public health division at the Wyoming Department of Health since 2011. Read More »

New Mexico Updates Critical Public Health Legal Infrastructure

June 29, 2017|3:17 p.m.| Dawn Hunter, New Mexico Department of Health

On April 6, 2017, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez signed SB 223, updating the state’s public health laws to “reflect current best public health practices, support the provision of services and infrastructure necessary to address emerging public health threats, and improve health outcomes for all New Mexicans.”. Read More »

Five Things to Know About the Prevention and Public Health Fund

June 29, 2017|1:48 p.m.| Michael Fraser

The Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF) is a critical source of funding for programs authorized under the Public Health Services Act for prevention, wellness, and public health activities. ASTHO continues to partner with the public health community to warn Congress of the dire consequences of repealing PPHF without a corresponding increase in the allocation for the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriation bills. . Read More »

Member Spotlight: Karen Murphy

June 29, 2017|4:00 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

Karen Murphy, PhD, RN, has been secretary of health of the Pennsylvania Department of Health since 2015. On June 30, she will leave the post to return to the private sector. Read More »

Experts Discuss Secondhand Smoke Exposure and Adverse Childhood Experiences in Home Environments

June 27, 2017|2:21 p.m.| Talyah Sands

Secondhand smoke exposure is not safe in any amount. In the United States, smoke exposure is most common among children ages 3 to 11 years, African Americans, people living below the federal poverty level, and those who rent housing. In multi-unit housing (MUH), smoke travels anywhere air can be exchanged, leading to involuntary secondhand smoke exposure. To address this unequal exposure, tobacco control advocates promote smoke-free MUH policies to eliminate secondhand smoke in one of the last indoor places where smoking is still allowed—the home. Read More »

States Adopt Legislation Prohibiting Smoking in Cars with Children

June 22, 2017|12:37 p.m.| KT Kramer

Exposure to second-hand smoke is harmful to all individuals, and it poses particular risks for children. Read More »

Member Spotlight: Raul Pino

June 22, 2017|12:08 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

In December 2015, Raul Pino, MD, was appointed commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Public Health by Gov. Read More »

ASTHO Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Learning Collaborative: Insights from National Partners

June 20, 2017|4:38 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

ASTHO’s Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention State Learning Collaborative has transformed the way state public health leaders and their partners are working to prevent, detect, and treat hypertension and chronic diseases. Read More »

More New Orleanians Get Movin’ Thanks to Prevention Research

June 20, 2017|4:16 a.m.| Leslie Erdelack (ASTHO), Naomi Englar (Tulane Prevention Research Center)

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and displaced more than a million people in the Gulf Coast region. Read More »

ASTHO and the de Beaumont Foundation Launch First-Ever Workforce Development Challenge

June 15, 2017|5:26 p.m.| Kyle Bogaert and Elizabeth Harper

ASTHO has partnered with the de Beaumont Foundation to launch the first-ever national “Public Health Workforce Interests and Needs (PH WINS) Model Policies and Practices Challenge.” This challenge will provide state and territorial health agencies and local health departments with the opportunity to identify and submit successful and transformative workforce development policies and practices for recognition as model policies and receipt of one of three $10,000 awards. Read More »

State Legislation Addressing Congenital Cytomegalovirus

June 15, 2017|4:39 p.m.| KT Kramer

June is Congenital Cytomegalovirus (CMV) Awareness Month. In 2017, state policymakers have been developing public education programs and enhanced screening processes to identify and support infants and children with CMV and their families. ASTHO is currently tracking 14 bills from nine states that address CMV. . Read More »

Member Spotlight: Joseph K. Miner

June 15, 2017|4:33 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Joseph K. Miner, MD, is executive director of the Utah Department of Health. As director, Miner oversees nearly 1,000 health department employees with the goal of helping Utah become the healthiest state in the nation. While the agency’s programs are diverse, ranging from anti-tobacco efforts to assisting children with special healthcare needs, to licensing day care facilities and ensuring the state's most vulnerable residents have access to healthcare, the mission of the department is consistent: help Utahns enjoy the best health possible. Read More »

Dr. Nirav D. Shah Joins ASTHO to Discuss Integration Efforts in Illinois and the Role of State Public Health

June 08, 2017|4:27 p.m.| Anna Bartels

The Integration Forum sat down with Dr. Nirav D. Shah, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, to learn more about how his state is working to develop integrated efforts that improve population health and lower healthcare costs. . Read More »

Emergency Declarations and Opioid Overdose Prevention

June 08, 2017|3:49 p.m.| Andy Baker-White

This week, Arizona joined five other states - Alaska, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Virginia - by declaring a statewide emergency in response to the opioid epidemic. The use of emergency declarations to respond to opioid overdoses aligns with ASTHO's 2017 President's Challenge to explore primary, secondary, and tertiary public health approaches to preventing substance misuse, addictions, and related consequences. Read More »

Scope of Practice for Dental Hygienists and Dental Therapists

June 01, 2017|11:13 a.m.| Andy Baker-White

Throughout the first half of 2017, several states enacted legislation impacting the scope of practice for dental hygienists and dental therapists. In Colorado, HB 1010 adds emergency drugs and reversal agents to the list of items that an unsupervised dental hygienist may prescribe and administer. Read More »

Member Spotlight: Karen Smith

June 01, 2017|11:02 a.m.| Karen Smith

Karen Smith, MD, is director of the California Department of Public Health. As a physician specializing in infectious disease and public health, Smith served as public health officer and deputy director at the Napa County Health and Human Services Agency prior to her appointment. She was also on the medical staff for infectious disease at Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa from 2012 to 2014. Read More »

Innovative Mobile Clinic Addresses Teen Pregnancy in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands

May 31, 2017|12:04 p.m.| Eighmey Zeeck

ASTHO’s Increasing Access to Contraception Learning Community involves 27 states and territories working to disseminate strategies and best practices and help implement policies and programs that provide access to a full range of contraception methods. Read More »

Legislative Update on Issues Affecting Summer Travel Season

May 25, 2017|5:33 p.m.| Andy Baker-White

Legislative Update on Issues Affecting Summer Travel Season. Read More »

ASTHO Celebrates World No Tobacco Day By Leading Tobacco Control Efforts

May 25, 2017|9:14 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

Each year on May 31, the World Health Organization celebrates World No Tobacco Day to highlight the importance of tobacco prevention and cessation initiatives. Read More »

ASTHO Legislative Update on Lead Exposure Nationwide

May 18, 2017|5:16 p.m.| KT Kramer

The 2017 Legislative Update below breaks down the bills into separate topic areas. The majority of bills (34) focus on testing lead levels in drinking water in schools and day care centers. States are also exploring other approaches to reduce lead exposure, such as testing for lead in water and soil in private homes and disclosing the results, improving state-led childhood lead exposure prevention programs, and developing financing mechanisms for remediation efforts. . Read More »

Member Spotlight: K. Lynn Gallagher

May 18, 2017|5:01 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

K. Lynn Gallagher is cabinet secretary of the New Mexico Department of Health. As the leader of the state’s largest agency, Gallagher manages the department’s $550 million budget and leads more than 3,000 employees in evidence-based, strategic health initiatives and health systems innovation. . Read More »

Understanding Performance Management and Quality Improvement

May 18, 2017|5:02 a.m.| Denise Pavletic

Performance management is a systematic process by which a state and territorial health agency involves its employees in improving the effectiveness of the agency and achieving the agency’s mission and strategic goals. Read More »

Colorado Leads the Way in Reducing Teen Pregnancy

May 11, 2017|2:52 p.m.| Eighmey Zeeck

ASTHO reached out to Larry Wolk, MD, executive director and chief medical officer of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, to discuss how Colorado is improving access to long acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs), how the department worked with the state legislature and other partners to collaborate on the Colorado Family Planning Initiative, and what strategies CDPHE is using to sustain this successful coalition. . Read More »

Adverse Childhood Experiences Legislation

May 11, 2017|1:24 p.m.| KT Kramer

Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) broadly describes abuse, neglect, and other traumatic events that occur in an individual’s life before the age of 18, producing various negative health outcomes. ASTHO is tracking bills and resolutions from 10 states that include ACEs language. Read More »

State Legislative Efforts on Breastfeeding

May 04, 2017|3:24 p.m.| KT Kramer

On May 6, ASTHO will participate in the March for Babies, in support of the March of Dimes’ work to prevent premature births, birth defects, and infant mortality. The event provides an opportunity to reflect on state and territorial laws and policies to improve the health and well-being of women and children, including policies to support and encourage breastfeeding. . Read More »

Member Spotlight: Lisa Morris

May 04, 2017|11:36 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

Lisa Morris, MSSW, is director of the New Hampshire Division of Public Health Services. Morris has over 30 years of experience in behavioral health, elder services, and public health. She joined the New Hampshire Division of Public Health Services in 2016. Read More »

David Sundwall Discusses Strategies for Incorporating Public Health in States’ Healthcare Planning Activities

May 03, 2017|10:34 a.m.| Anna Bartels

ASTHO sat down with David Sundwall, MD, one of the leading members of the Integration Forum and former executive director of the Utah Department of Health, to learn about his experience as a state health official and the strategies that he used to ensure that public health was integrated into his state’s healthcare planning. . Read More »

State Legislative Efforts on Meningococcal Vaccines

April 27, 2017|3:00 p.m.| KT Kramer

Monday was World Meningitis Day, a global effort to recognize the consequences of meningitis, an inflammation of the brain’s tissue and stem, as well as strategies to prevent it. ASTHO’s real-time legislative tracking website is currently following seven states with bills and resolutions related to meningococcal vaccinations.  . Read More »

Member Spotlight: Danny Staley

April 27, 2017|2:50 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Danny Staley, MS, is director of the North Carolina Division of Public Health. Staley began his career in public health in 1992 after graduating from Appalachian State University with a degree in health education, followed by a master’s degree in community health administration and wellness promotion. In June 2011, Staley joined the North Carolina Division of Public Health. Read More »

Texas Takes Action on Congenital Syphilis: A Conversation With John Hellerstedt

April 20, 2017|1:20 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

ASTHO spoke with John Hellerstedt, MD, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, about Texas’s efforts to tackle congenital syphilis, how recent legislative changes and innovative projects are helping Texas prevent and respond to congenital syphilis, and how other health officials can get involved in their own communities. Read More »

An Ounce of Prevention for Sexual Violence

April 13, 2017|3:49 p.m.| Amanda Deutsch, KT Kramer

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, a time to recognize and address the public health consequences of sexual violence on individuals and communities. Responding to sexual violence and lessening its impact on communities often requires the coordination and collaboration of state agencies. Read More »

Health Systems Transformation Efforts Within ASTHO

April 07, 2017|1:08 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

ASTHO’s work in health systems transformation promotes cross-cutting collaboration and integration in a variety of areas to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of public health programs. ASTHO’s work supports the Triple Aim of improving the patient experience of care, improving the health of populations, and reducing the per capita cost of healthcare. . Read More »

Creating the Healthiest Nation in One Generation

April 06, 2017|1:14 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Georges Benjamin, MD, is executive director of the American Public Health Association (APHA). Prior to APHA, Benjamin served as secretary of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, following four years as its deputy secretary for public health services. As secretary, Benjamin oversaw the expansion and improvement of the state’s Medicaid program. An established administrator, author, and orator, Benjamin is leading APHA’s initiative to make America the healthiest nation in one generation. Read More »

Member Spotlight: Nirav Shah

April 06, 2017|12:59 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Nirav D. Shah, MD, is director of the Illinois Department of Public Health. The department’s mission is to protect the health and wellness of the people of Illinois through the prevention, health promotion, regulation, and control of disease and injury. Read More »

ASTHO’s Member Engagement Team Helps Health Officials Become Transformational Leaders

April 06, 2017|12:32 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Today’s state and territorial health officials hold one of the most complex and demanding jobs in government. As leaders, they provide key, transformational leadership that impacts the health of an entire state or territory. Health officials are responsible for ensuring that the public health system is effective across a broad range of issues, often in rapidly changing political environments. Read More »

Member Spotlight: Karyl Rattay

March 30, 2017|5:15 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Karyl Rattay, MD, is director of the Delaware Division of Public Health. As director, she leads nearly 700 employees who promote health, reduce health inequities, and protect Delawareans from disease, environmental hazards, and public health emergencies. The division’s vision is healthy people in healthy communities. The Delaware Division of Public Health became a nationally accredited public health agency in 2016. Read More »

ASTHO Hosts 75th Anniversary National Symposium on Reaching Consensus on Public Health Challenges

March 23, 2017|5:09 p.m.| Matthew Oglesby

ASTHO will celebrate its 75th anniversary by hosting a series of special events throughout the year to recognize its members’ significant contributions to public health. This week, ASTHO organized a symposium discussion focused on building consensus on difficult issues, such as climate change, firearm safety, and reproductive health. A distinguished panel of public health leaders explored effective ways to promote health and prevent disease while also addressing controversy, conflict, and disagreement. Read More »

Jay Butler Reflects on ASTHO’s 75th Anniversary

March 23, 2017|4:19 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

In advance of ASTHO’s 75th anniversary year, which kicked off this week with a symposium on public health challenges and opportunities, we spoke with Jay Butler, MD, ASTHO president, and director and chief medical officer of the Division of Public Health and Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, about lessons learned as a public health leader, what he considers the most important public health achievements over the past 75 years, and which public health issues he believes will be a priority in the coming 75 years. Read More »

Member Spotlight: Larry Wolk

March 09, 2017|3:46 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Larry Wolk, MD, is executive director and chief medical officer of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Since joining the agency, Wolk’s mission has been to simplify the health system for Colorado’s citizens and position the department as the leader in providing evidence-based health and environmental information. Read More »

Michael Fraser Discusses Goals for ASTHO's Leadership Week

March 02, 2017|2:32 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

With a busy and significant March ahead of us, ASTHO Executive Director Michael Fraser took a moment to answer a few questions about next week’s Hill Day, key messages ASTHO will be sharing with Congress and the administration, and what to expect during Leadership Week. Read More »

Member Spotlight: Brenda Fitzgerald

February 23, 2017|3:44 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Brenda C. Fitzgerald, MD, is commissioner and state health officer of the Georgia Department of Public Health, the state’s lead agency in preventing disease, promoting better health, and ensuring families have the resources they need to prepare for health emergencies. In addition, Fitzgerald directs the state’s 18 public health districts and 159 county health departments. Read More »

A Look at State Legislation Limiting Opioid Prescriptions

February 23, 2017|12:36 p.m.| Andy Baker-White

Since last year, six states (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island) have enacted laws limiting initial prescriptions for opioids while two states (Delaware and Vermont) have used agency rulemaking to establish such limits. More states are considering the adoption of initial opioid prescription limits during the 2017 legislative sessions. The prescription limits are often set at a daily supply or are in morphine milligram equivalents (MMEs) with certain conditions and patients being exempt from the limits. Read More »

New CDC Regulations for Domestic and Foreign Travel

February 16, 2017|3:57 p.m.| Andy Baker-White

On Feb. 21, CDC will implement newly revised rules for issuing federal public health orders (e.g., orders for quarantine, isolation, or conditional release) for both domestic and foreign travel. CDC revised the rules to improve and clarify its role in preventing the introduction, transmission, and spread of communicable diseases in the United States. Read More »

Member Spotlight: Virginia Pressler

February 16, 2017|2:27 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Virginia (Ginny) Pressler, MD, is the director of health for the Hawaii Department of Health. As director, Pressler oversees the department’s operations and sits on several key boards and committees. As part of her duties, she also oversees environmental health, behavioral health, and a number of health-related agencies within the health department. Read More »

Leading State Health: Joseph Miner

February 09, 2017|3:34 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Joseph K. Miner, MD, is executive director of the Utah Department of Health. In addition to his work at the department, Miner currently serves on ASTHO’s Infectious Disease Policy Committee, which has identified antimicrobial resistance and healthcare-associated infections as one of several key priorities for their work in 2017. Additionally, Miner represents the state health department perspective on the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists’ Antibiotic Resistance Surveillance Task Force, which seeks to improve surveillance practices for resistant organisms. Read More »

Member Spotlight: Monica Bharel

February 09, 2017|3:29 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Monica Bharel, MD, is commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. As commissioner, she is responsible for spearheading the state’s response to the opioid crisis, as well as leading the department’s implementation of healthcare cost containment legislation, Chapter 224, reducing health disparities, finding public health solutions for healthcare reform, finding innovative solutions using data and evidence-based practices, and other healthcare quality improvement initiatives. Read More »

Member Spotlight: Cara Christ

February 02, 2017|2:00 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Cara Christ, MD, is director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, which is responsible for leading Arizona’s public health system, including responding to disease outbreaks, licensing health and childcare facilities, operating the Arizona State Hospital, and improving the overall health and wellness of all Arizonans. Read More »

Leading State Health: John Dreyzehner

January 26, 2017|2:34 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

ASTHO congratulates John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH, FACOEM, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Health, on completing a two-year term as one of the tri-chairs of the National Homeland Security Consortium, a forum for public and private sector disciplines to coalesce efforts and perspectives about how best to protect America in the 21st century. Read More »

Member Spotlight: Nate Smith

January 26, 2017|11:36 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

Nate Smith, MD, MPH, is director and state health officer for the Arkansas Department of Health. The department protects and improves the health and well-being of all Arkansans by responding to outbreaks and other public health emergencies, implementing programs to educate and improve health outcomes, licensing and certifying professionals and facilities, and providing evidence-based preventive health services in communities throughout the state. Read More »

Member Spotlight: Esther Muña

January 19, 2017|12:56 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Esther Muña, MHA, CPC, is chief executive officer for the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation, the health agency for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, which is responsible for the territory’s sole hospital, dialysis center, community health center, as well as other public health services and programs. Muña has served on ASTHO’s Access Policy Committee for three years. Read More »

Medicaid and Social Determinants of Health: ASTHO and HHS Engage State and Local Leaders in Dialogue

January 17, 2017|5:08 p.m.| Karen DeSalvo and Michael Fraser

On January 6, 2017, ASTHO gathered state health officials, state Medicaid directors, and HHS and non-profit stakeholders from the New England and Empire regions to learn from one another and identify new ways to collaborate to achieve better health for their communities. Read More »

Member Spotlight: Terry Cline

January 12, 2017|4:04 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Terry Cline, PhD, is commissioner of the Oklahoma State Department of Health, which is responsible for health departments in 68 counties across the state and provides oversight of more than 114,000 assorted business and occupational licenses annually, in addition to disease surveillance and intervention, emergency preparedness, maternal and child health, the WIC program, tobacco and obesity reduction programs, and many other services. In addition, Cline served on the ASTHO Board of Directors for seven years, in various capacities including regional representative and president. Read More »

ASTHO’s Executive Director Forecasts Top 2017 Priorities for State and Territorial Public Health

January 12, 2017|9:33 a.m.| Michael Fraser

As we kick off 2017, here are a few items I predict will be key priorities and issues for ASTHO this year. While I do not have a crystal ball, several issues will certainly challenge us, presenting new opportunities for state and territorial public health agencies. Read More »

Leading State Health: Ed Ehlinger

January 05, 2017|12:46 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

In his latest blog post, Ed Ehlinger, MD, MSPH, Minnesota Commissioner of Health, delivers a thought-provoking essay about health, housing instability, and policy decisions through the eyes of characters from a classic fairy tale, The Three Little Pigs. Read More »

Member Spotlight: Jerome Adams

December 22, 2016|3:31 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Jerome Adams, MD, is commissioner of the Indiana State Department of Health. In this role he oversees the public health protection and laboratory services, health and human services, healthcare quality and regulatory, and tobacco prevention and cessation commissions. Read More »

Member Spotlight: Harry Chen

December 15, 2016|2:38 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Harry Chen, MD, has been commissioner of the Vermont Department of Health since 2011. On Jan. 5, 2017, he will step down, having decided not to seek reappointment. Chen spoke with ASTHO about his tenure as a state health official and why he believes public health is so important. Read More »

Member Spotlight: Richard Opper

December 08, 2016|3:05 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Richard H. Opper, MS, is the state health officer and director of the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, an agency that also provides human services, such as SNAP and TANF benefits. In addition, the department protects children and adults from abuse and neglect, provides services to people with disabilities, and administers the state’s Medicaid program. Read More »

Member Spotlight: Elke Shaw-Tulloch

December 01, 2016|10:50 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

Elke Shaw-Tulloch, MHS, is administrator of the Division of Public Health at the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, which serves the state by providing infrastructure for population health initiatives and acts as a first responder during times of public health need. She has been an ASTHO member since 2012 and she currently services on ASTHO’s board of directors. Read More »

See the Slide Decks Used at the ASTHO Annual Meeting

September 26, 2016|1:19 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

One of the many thought-provoking slides presented at the 2016 ASTHO Annual Meeting from Edward Ehlinger depicts the connections needed for a Health in All Policies approach. Read More »

The ASTHO Take: A Week in Public Health News

December 04, 2015|3:03 p.m.| Virgie Townsend

On Wednesday, two assailants killed 14 people and injured 21 more at a holiday party for the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health. Many of the victims were public health workers. ASTHO joins the public health community in mourning their loss. Read More »

The ASTHO Take: A Week in Public Health News (November 20)

November 20, 2015|3:04 p.m.| Virgie Townsend

Three state agencies earn accreditation, misconceptions about antibiotics fuel AMR, genetically engineered food approved by FDA for first time. Read More »

The ASTHO Take: A Week in Public Health News (November 13)

November 13, 2015|5:19 p.m.| Virgie Townsend

New data on blood pressure target, more women choosing long-acting reversible contraception, smoking bans proposed for public housing. Read More »

The ASTHO Take: A Week in Public Health News (November 6)

November 06, 2015|2:34 p.m.| Virgie Townsend

Multistate foodborne illness outbreaks, Keystone Pipeline rejection, and fear-based public health messages. Read More »

The ASTHO Take: A Week in Public Health News (October 16)

October 16, 2015|2:53 p.m.| Virgie Townsend

New studies explore the dangers of antibiotic resistance and dietary supplements. Read More »

The ASTHO Take: A Week in Public Health News (October 9)

October 09, 2015|4:16 p.m.| Virgie Townsend

Prescription drug abuse attitudes, ASTHO executive director announcement, and Ebola updates. Read More »

The ASTHO Take: A Week in Public Health News (October 2)

October 02, 2015|1:03 p.m.| Virgie Townsend

ASTHO annual meeting highlights, Hurricane Joaquin preparedness, and drug-impaired driving. Read More »

The ASTHO Take: A Week in Public Health News (Sept. 25)

September 25, 2015|4:52 p.m.| Virgie Townsend

Walkable neighborhoods, UN Ebola response, and pharmaceutical price hike. Read More »

The ASTHO Take: A Week in Public Health News (Sept. 18)

September 18, 2015|3:19 p.m.| Virgie Townsend

Must-read news for leaders in public health. Read More »

Welcome

October 07, 2014|1:46 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Welcome to StatePublicHealth.org, the new blog from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. Read More »