Featured Story

FeaturedStory

November 15 is the Great American Smokeout, an event that the American Cancer Society has hosted for over 40 years every third Thursday of November. It began in the 1970s when smoking and secondhand smoke were more common and has since helped dramatically change Americans’ attitudes about tobacco. In the wake of new data that shows cigarette smoking among adults is at an all-time low, this year’s observance is an opportunity to both reflect on a major public health success story and look ahead at new policy and systems change strategies to reduce the harmful health effects of all tobacco products on the market. Read More »

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Emerging Trends in State Lyme Disease Legislation

May 23, 2019|10:51 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month, an opportunity to recognize those impacted by the disease and increase awareness about one of the most common vector-borne diseases in the United States. Lyme disease, caused by the Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium and transmitted through the bite of an infected tick, has been a nationally notifiable disease since 1991, with health agencies reporting approximately 30,000 Lyme disease cases to CDC each year. Reported cases may only be the tip of the iceberg, however, since additional studies of disease diagnoses estimate that approximately 300,000 cases occur annually. Read More »

Member Spotlight: Abinash Achrekar

May 23, 2019|10:40 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

In 2019, Abinash Achrekar, MD, became deputy secretary of the New Mexico Department of Health after serving as interim chief of cardiology at the University of New Mexico. He is immediate past-president of New Mexico’s American Heart Association. As deputy secretary, Achrekar participates in ASTHO matters on the department’s behalf. In this interview, Achrekar discusses his move from cardiology to state government, policy goals for the agency, and how a mobile unit is connecting asylum seekers along the U.S. southern border with health services. Read More »

Recent State Legislative Activity to Ensure Mental Health Parity

May 16, 2019|11:10 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

May is Mental Health Month, a time to recognize the ways mental health is tied to state health agency priorities, such as chronic disease, substance misuse, and suicide prevention. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, there is a strong link between mental illness and chronic disease with, for example, depression increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke, and Alzheimer’s disease. To include mental health as part of a continuum of care with behavioral health, prevention, and physical care, policymakers at the federal and state levels have sought to increase the parity between the accessibility of mental health services and other care. Read More »

Improving Access to Oral Healthcare: A Snapshot of State Initiatives

May 09, 2019|10:31 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), dental insurance coverage for children, adults, and seniors dropped by approximately 4-5 percent from 2010 to 2015. In 2016, dental care was found to have the highest level of cost barriers compared to other healthcare services, with 8.9 percent of the population reporting that they needed but did not obtain dental care in the past year due to cost. Read More »

Member Spotlight: Lisa Piercey

May 08, 2019|5:12 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Lisa Piercey, MD, MBA, FAAP, is commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Health. Preceding her public service, Piercey spent a decade in health systems operations, most recently as executive vice president of West Tennessee Healthcare, a public, nonprofit health system. Piercey is board certified by the American Board of Pediatrics in both general pediatrics and in child abuse pediatrics. . Read More »

Legal Challenges to Public Health Orders During the Recent Measles Outbreaks

May 02, 2019|1:25 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Courts can play a big role during outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases. While state and local public health authorities are established legislatively and exercised by the executive branch through state and local health agencies, the judicial branch is sometimes called upon to review the use of public health authority. Recent legal challenges to public health orders in New York reveal some of the issues public health can face before a court during a disease outbreak and illustrate the ever-present need for public health agencies to exhibit legal preparedness. Read More »

States Enact Tobacco 21 Laws

April 24, 2019|1:53 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

CDC recognizes tobacco use as the leading cause of preventable disease, disability, and death in the United States and estimates that each day, approximately 2,000 people under age 18 smoke their first cigarette, with more than 300 becoming daily cigarette smokers. In 2015, the Institute of Medicine projected that if the age of sale for tobacco products was set at 21 years of age across the country, there would be 249,000 fewer premature deaths. Since the report was published, several jurisdictions have increased the age of sale for tobacco products to 21. By the end of 2018, laws to increase the age of sale, also known as tobacco 21 laws, were enacted in six states—California, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Oregon—as well as Washington, D.C. and Guam. Read More »

Women, Syphilis, and Drug Use: A Renewed Convergence

April 24, 2019|11:57 a.m.| Hazel D. Dean, ScD, DrPH (Hon), FACE

Women’s health is again threatened by the convergence of syphilis and drug use. In 1988, the health risk was driven by the co-epidemics of crack cocaine and syphilis. Today, the threat again comes from syphilis, this time combining with the epidemics of methamphetamine, heroin, and other injection-drug use. To protect women’s health, we should rethink how we can address this syndemic (i.e., two or more health problems interacting synergistically) while drawing on the lessons learned from prior syphilis increases and from the longitudinal relationships between healthcare providers and people living with HIV. Read More »

Public Health and Interoperability: A State Perspective

April 17, 2019|7:38 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Karen Smith, MD, MPH, is state health officer for the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). Formerly a public health officer for Napa County Health and Human Services Agency, Smith brings a wide array of knowledge as a physician specializing in infectious disease and public health. ASTHO recently spoke with Smith about the department’s capacity to address population health outcomes through informatics, analytics, and interoperability. Read More »

States Propose Raw Milk Legislation to Prevent Milk Borne Disease

April 17, 2019|6:06 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Raw milk is milk that has not been pasteurized to kill harmful bacteria and can carry dangerous germs, such as E. coli, Listeria, and Salmonella. Raw milk and raw (unpasteurized) dairy products such as soft cheese, ice cream, and yogurt cause serious foodborne illnesses. From 2007 to 2012, 26 states reported 81 outbreaks linked to raw milk, which resulted in 979 illnesses and 73 hospitalizations. Infants, young children, older adults, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems are at a greater risk of getting sick from drinking raw milk. Fifty-nine percent of outbreaks involved at least one child younger than five years. Read More »

States Take Action to Address Food Insecurity

April 10, 2019|5:52 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

In 2017, one in eight Americans experienced food insecurity. Food insecurity has a direct impact on physical and mental health status, educational attainment, and life expectancy. Public programs are in place to help families access foods, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program. States are also exploring strategies to more effectively leverage these resources, increase enrollment, and ensure there are vendors and locations available to dispense these resources. Read More »

State and Federal Actions to Protect Communities from Toxic PFAS Chemicals

April 10, 2019|4:36 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

In recent years, the public health community has focused more attention on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. After several high-profile lawsuits in Minnesota and West Virginia thrust environmental PFAS contamination and human exposure issues into the national spotlight, the public became understandably concerned, demanding action from elected officials and governmental public health agencies. Environmental PFAS contamination is a complex issue that requires leadership and input from multiple stakeholder groups, including local, state, and federal public health agencies, elected officials, the public, and industry. Read More »

Building Healthy and Safe Communities by Understanding and Preventing Suicides

April 03, 2019|5:08 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

With this year’s National Public Health Week, the American Public Health Association (APHA) and its partners are highlighting key issues towards creating the healthiest nation. To achieve this goal, APHA stresses the importance of building safe and healthy communities, which includes such things as reducing risks to pedestrians and bicyclist, increasing access to healthy foods, and preventing violence and suicides. Over the past few years, several states have begun to address and tackle the issue of suicide through law and policy. Below are a couple of examples of how states are using laws to promote suicide awareness and prevention. Read More »

State Earned Income Tax Credits as a Prevention Strategy for ACEs

March 28, 2019|10:09 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

Evidence shows that exposure during childhood to negative events, also known as adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), can increase a person’s likelihood of encountering long-term chronic or behavioral health issues, such as heart disease, violence, suicide, and substance use. ACEs, such as child abuse, neglect, or household deprivations (e.g. parental incarceration, substance use, or separation) are often clustered, with individuals who experience at least one ACE being more likely to experienced multiple ACEs. With data indicating the prevalence of ACEs extending to almost half of children nationwide, policymakers in many states are exploring ways to prevent them, as a result reducing the negative health impacts associated with them. Read More »

States Consider a Wide Array of Paid Family Leave Legislation

March 21, 2019|11:20 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

Paid family leave allows employees to take paid time off during pregnancy, after the birth or adoption of a child, or when a family member needs care. Only an estimated 13-14 percent of workers in the United States have access to employer-based paid family leave. Evidence shows that paid family leave provides health-related benefits for mothers and children including increases in health benefits associated with breastfeeding, better mother-child interactions, and decreased maternal and marital stress. Read More »

Innovative Approaches for Overdose Prevention

March 20, 2019|4:07 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

For several years, state opioid overdose prevention efforts have focused on a narrow set of strategies and policies such as morbidity and mortality surveillance, prescription drug monitoring programs, provider education and guidelines, and increasing access to naloxone. According to Martha Yeide, ASTHO’s senior director for social and behavioral health, “States have focused on implementing the strategies with the most available evidence or data suggesting efficacy in addressing the opioid epidemic. At this point, now that states have several years of experience in addressing these issues, we are realizing that we need to expand our focus to continue stabilizing and driving down overdose rates.”. Read More »

State and Federal Telehealth Policy Activity

March 14, 2019|1:32 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

With access to health services becoming an increasingly important issue, states are looking to telehealth as a mechanism to increase access and remove access barriers in 2019 legislative sessions. Telehealth uses electronic information and telecommunication technologies to support and promote long-distance clinical healthcare, patient and professional health-related education, public health, and health administration. Telehealth modalities include live videoconferencing, store-and-forward, remote patient monitoring, and mobile health. Read More »

Public Health on the Hill: A Coalition for Sustained Support

March 07, 2019|1:36 p.m.| Adriane Casalotti, Chief of Government and Public Affairs, NACCHO | Carolyn Mullen, Chief of Government Affairs and Public Relations, ASTHO

Our nation’s public health system is, at its core, a partnership between federal, state, and local governments. While these partnerships are clear on the ground in communities, many members of Congress are unaware of the important work being done each day to keep their states and communities safe and healthy. Read More »

States Move Toward Regulating CBD Products

March 07, 2019|1:01 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

With the enactment of the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, the federal government removed industrial hemp, as well as its derivatives, extracts, and cannabinoids, from the definition of marijuana. It will now be lawful to grow and process industrial hemp as long as it and any resulting products do not contain more than 0.3 percent delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Industrial hemp contains a number of cannabinoids, chemical compounds that act on receptors affecting such things as appetite, learning, memory, anxiety, depression, and pain. One of the most widely known cannabinoids is cannabidiol or CBD. Read More »

Ensuring Schools Remain Tobacco-Free

February 28, 2019|1:37 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

According to CDC and FDA, e-cigarette use increased 78 percent among high school students between 2017 and 2018, resulting in 1.5 million more young e-cigarette smokers in the United States over the course of the past year. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb and U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams (alumnus-IN) described the increase in e-cigarette use among young people as an epidemic, releasing a public statement and an advisory. Read More »

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