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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 »

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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 »

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 »

Menthol Cigarette Use Remains Issue Among African American Communities

February 13, 2018|2:55 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

State public health agencies play a key role in reducing the public’s use of all forms of tobacco, including smokeless tobacco, e-cigarettes, and menthol cigarettes. Menthol, an organic flavoring compound found naturally in mint plants, is often used as an additive in consumer products such as lozenges, candies, and cigarettes. When added to cigarettes, menthol makes cigarettes more harmful by making smoke less irritating to inhale deeply, and changing how nicotine addiction impacts the brain. Since the 1960s, cigarette manufacturers have been marketing menthol cigarettes specifically to African Americans through culturally tailored messaging in television, radio, and print media advertising. As a result, cigarette smoking is now a key contributor to the increase in death and disease burdens among African American communities. 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 »

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