Featured Story

FeaturedStory

Working with state and territorial public health leaders is always exciting and incredibly rewarding: every day there’s a new development, a new solution, a new headline that impacts the health of all Americans. Of course, that also has its downside – some of those things that make public health challenging come at a tremendous cost to our nation’s health: measles outbreaks, rising STD rates, growing burden of chronic diseases, and illnesses like EVALI. And that’s just scratching the surface.Read More »

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Getting to Work: ASTHO’s Federal Policy Priorities in 2020

January 15, 2020|10:36 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

The band U2 once said, “nothing changes on New Year’s Day.” That may be the case for some, but at ASTHO there are a few important things that begin anew as the year clicks over--namely, the effort to implement our 2020 Federal Legislative Agenda. This agenda is a trusted map for ASTHO’s government affairs team, as it keeps us on track and in line with our members’ priorities. Each year, in close partnership with the ASTHO Government Relations Committee and Board of Directors, we prioritize our advocacy activities by three tiers. The programs and issues that we will lead on are considered tier one, issues we’ll partner to support are tier two, and issues we’ll continue to monitor are tier three. Read More »

Beyond Opioids: Tobacco and Other Substance Use Among Pregnant Women

January 14, 2020|1:54 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Perinatal substance use is not only a serious public health issue resulting in detrimental and even life-threatening fetal outcomes, but it’s one that continues to grow. The 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found an increase in both tobacco and alcohol use among pregnant women from 2016 to 2017, with 22.6 percent of pregnant women reportedly using alcohol or tobacco. Read More »

State Health Policy Issues to Watch in 2020

January 08, 2020|4:23 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

The promise of a new year means that many state legislatures will soon reconvene, which also means a new (and not-so-new) set of health policy bills will start cropping up. To help navigate, ASTHO has a forthcoming ‘2020 state legislative prospectus’ series that will highlight seven different priority policy areas states will address during this year’s legislative session. Each prospectus in the series provides a brief overview of the issue, the issue’s impact on health, and trends in state legislation to address the issue. This year, ASTHO developed prospectuses on e-cigarettes, HIV, influenza, maternal mortality and morbidity, neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), and rural health. Below is a summary of our first prospectus on policy initiatives to increase flu vaccination rates, as well as previews of the remaining six prospectus series topics to be featured and released in future ASTHO health policy updates. Read More »

Reflecting and Looking Ahead: Federal Health Policy in 2019 and Beyond

December 18, 2019|1:07 p.m.| Carolyn Mullen | ASTHO Chief of Government Affairs and Public Relations

As we rolled into 2019 we saw the dawn of a new Congress: Elected officials were sworn in and pledged to uphold the constitution, all while the U.S experienced one of the longest partial federal government shutdowns in modern history. And yet, this was just the beginning of highs and lows throughout the year. As 2019 comes to a close, it is important to reflect back on the numerous public health accomplishments and acknowledge the ongoing challenges we’ll face in 2020. Read More »

States Lead the Way in Regulating CBD-Infused Products

December 17, 2019|11:18 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

These days it’s almost impossible to walk by a pharmacy or retailer without seeing an advertisement for CBD products. As cannabidiol (CBD)-infused products (such as oils, pet treats, and food) continue to grow in popularity, this has prompted states to introduce oversight of CBD products. Issues around CBD products became murkier after the 2018 federal farm bill allowed the production and sale of industrial hemp and hemp-derived products, while also explicitly preserving the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) authority to regulate products containing CBD. Read More »

The Impact of Medicaid on Public Health: A Conversation with Georgetown’s Joan Alker

December 16, 2019|4:13 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

As a public health official, it is important to understand the dynamic role Medicaid plays in your jurisdiction. This includes the interactions between governmental agencies, perspectives of multiple payers, and the impact on those receiving care. Medicaid and public health shouldn’t operate in silos – but instead in closer partnership to achieve optimal health outcomes. This post discusses how state health officials can work with their Medicaid programs to improve overall health. Read More »

States Act to Ensure Access to Care with Affordable Care Act in the Courts

December 11, 2019|12:24 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Access to quality and affordable health insurance is necessary to protect and improve the public’s health at large. State and territorial health agencies recognize the importance of access to health services-- including access to health insurance coverage--as a key component of health and wellbeing. The U.S. saw significant decreases in the percentage of uninsured residents in the last decade: the percentage of uninsured non-elderly adults decreased from over 44 million in 2013 to just below 27 million in 2016, due in large part to implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Read More »

Six Tips for Sustaining Accreditation

December 05, 2019|11:52 a.m.| Joanne Pearsol, deputy director of the Ohio Department of Health, and Susan Ramsey, former director of Washington State Department of Health’s Office of Performance and Accountability

Initial public health agency accreditation demonstrates that a state, territorial, local, or tribal public health agency has the capacity to provide the 10 Essential Public Health Services, develop and manage an effective health department, and maintain strong communications with the governing entity. Reaccreditation builds upon a health department’s initial accreditation efforts. It focuses on how health departments maintain capacity, ensure accountability, and support continuous quality improvement so that they continue to evolve, improve, and advance. Working with public health agencies to sustain success and momentum from accreditation and prepare for reaccreditation, we identified six key strategies for success. Read More »

States Seek to Increase HPV Vaccine Coverage Through School Immunization Requirements

December 04, 2019|2:53 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Human papillomavirus, or HPV, is a common virus that can lead to certain types of cancer later in life. The virus is spread through intimate skin-to-skin contact and can be transmitted by having sex with someone who has HPV. Almost 80 million Americans are currently infected with HPV and about 14 million become infected each year. While 90 percent of HPV infections go away within a couple of years, they sometimes last longer and can cause 6 types of cancer. Each year, approximately 20,700 cancer cases in women and 14,100 cancer cases in men are caused by HPV. In 2006, the FDA approved a vaccine to prevent HPV infection. The CDC currently recommends that all children at ages 11-12 receive the HPV vaccine and that anyone through the age of 26 who is not vaccinated also be vaccinated. Giving the vaccine at an early age can protect a person long before he or she is ever exposed to the virus. Read More »

With Cottage Food on Their Plate, States Serve Up Legislative Changes

November 25, 2019|9:39 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

Local and small-scale food production has grown in popularity in the United States over the past several years. As of August 2019, there were 8,771 farmers markets listed in USDA’s National Farmers Market Directory, a six percent increase since 2014. With the growth in demand for local foods and the increased availability of venues to purchase these foods, individuals are producing and selling more food and beverages made in home kitchens, commonly referred to as cottage foods. Cottage foods are typically those considered low risk for microbial contamination, which could still cause foodborne illness, and do not require time or temperature safety measures for their production or storage. This can include baked goods, candies, condiments, preserves, and dry mixes. Meanwhile, state and local health agencies are often responsible for enforcing food safety laws and regulating food production. By licensing and monitoring food production, health agencies can prevent, reduce, and mitigate outbreaks of foodborne illness. Read More »

State Legislatures Take Action to Restrict Flavored E-Cigarette Sales

November 21, 2019|3:12 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Youth e-cigarette use is a growing concern among state and federal policymakers and a public health issue that FDA claims has “hit epidemic proportions.” E-cigarettes are now the most commonly used tobacco products among youth and young adults, with e-cigarette use growing 900 percent among middle and high school students from 2011 to 2015. The latest 2019 findings from the National Youth Tobacco Survey indicate that over 5 million middle- and high-school-aged youth reported using e-cigarettes in 2019, including nearly 1 million daily users. Youth e-cigarette rates continue to grow, with 27.5 percent of high school students and 10.5 percent of middle school students reporting that they’ve used e-cigarettes in the last 30 days. Read More »

Time for a Great American Vape Out?

November 21, 2019|1:03 p.m.| Michael Fraser, PhD, MS

Today is the Great American Smokeout, an event that has been hosted by the American Cancer Society for over 40 years on the third Thursday of November. The event began in the 1970s, when smoking and secondhand smoke were common. It has helped dramatically change Americans’ attitudes about tobacco. Today we should celebrate that high school cigarette use is at an all-time low of 5.8 percent, dropping from 8.1 percent between 2018 and 2019. That is great news. Read More »

Despite Some Prevention Successes, Antimicrobial Resistance Remains a Global Challenge

November 14, 2019|11:46 a.m.| Marcus Plescia MD, MPH | ASTHO Chief Medical Officer

For the past 80 years, antibiotics have allowed doctors to treat bacterial infections and control infectious disease outbreaks that would previously have become wide-scale epidemics. However, much of this progress could be undermined by the increasing prevalence of antibiotic resistance. Although some antibiotic resistance is a natural result of normal antibiotic use, widespread antibiotic use—often for inappropriate reasons—has escalated this process. Nov. 18-24 is U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week, an annual observance to increase awareness of antibiotic resistance. Read More »

Every State Puts Forward Legislation Addressing Prescription Drug Affordability

November 14, 2019|10:58 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

High-cost prescription drugs have a clear budgetary impact for public and commercial payers and consumers alike. Prescription drug costs represent approximately 9.8 percent of total healthcare expenditures, and accounted for $333.4 billion spent on prescription drugs in 2017 (compared to $236 billion only a decade prior). In addition, Medicaid spending on outpatient drugs increased by 21 percent between 2014 and 2015, from $45.9 million to $55.6 million, and by a further 11 percent to $61.9 million in 2016 and is expected to continue growing. Read More »

States Maintain and Increase Vaccine Coverage Through Legislative Action

November 07, 2019|11:35 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

Increasing and maintaining vaccine coverage is an important way to prevent the spread of disease and keep communities healthy. Vaccines have greatly reduced or eliminated many infectious diseases that once killed or harmed infants, children, and adults. Not only can vaccines prevent certain diseases in vaccinated individuals, they can also lower the chance of spreading disease to vulnerable populations such as infants, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems who are especially vulnerable to infectious diseases and may not be able to be vaccinated. Each year, thousands of adults in the U.S. become seriously ill and are hospitalized because of diseases that vaccines help prevent. Read More »

How Do We Protect Future Generations from Adverse Childhood Experiences?

November 05, 2019|10:50 a.m.| Debra Houry, MD, MPH, director of the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, CDC

As a physician, I know firsthand the importance of preventing injuries and violence. While working in the emergency department, I often saw patients after an acute traumatic event, but just as frequently would see patients with longer term health issues from prior trauma. This helped me better understand the consequences of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and childhood trauma as well as the importance of primary prevention. ACEs are traumatic events that occur in childhood. Examples include witnessing or experiencing violence, having a family member attempt or die by suicide, and growing up in a household with substance abuse. ACEs can lead to risky behaviors, chronic health problems, and diminished life opportunities. Read More »

Governance Policies for Strategic Management of Data

October 31, 2019|4:25 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

The amount of data available to public health leaders continues to increase at a rapid pace further emphasizing the need for reliable and secure data management. State and territorial health agencies (S/THAs) receive massive amounts of disparate data from various sources and must find ways to manage, store, analyze, and use this information. Agencies typically house and maintain hundreds of data surveillance systems, each with its own purpose for monitoring disease outbreaks or trends and requiring subject matter expertise and funding resources to maintain. Read More »

Pennsylvania’s Rural Health Model: A Conversation with the Secretary of Health

October 28, 2019|9:45 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

Rural communities across the nation are experiencing a significant number of hospital closures. Nationally, more than 100 rural hospitals have closed since 2010, and an additional 21 percent of rural hospitals are at high risk of closure. ASTHO spoke with Rachel Levine, MD, Secretary of Health for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, to learn how the Pennsylvania Rural Health Model is addressing the sustainability of rural hospitals by redesigning the payment and delivery of care. Read More »

States Take Action to Create Better Health Outcomes for Incarcerated Women

October 24, 2019|10:52 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

The health concerns of incarcerated women are often left out of conversations related to health equity and optimal health for all. Women are incarcerated at an increasing rate; there are nearly eight times as many women in state and local prisons today as there were in 1980. According to the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics, nearly 75 percent of incarcerated women are between 18 and 44, an age range during which women have specific health concerns surrounding reproductive, prenatal, and postpartum care. Read More »

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