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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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Exploring the Role of Physicians in Addressing the Social Determinants of Health

May 24, 2018|2:51 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Earlier this month, healthcare consulting firm Leavitt Partners published survey results which found that, while most physicians acknowledge the impact of social determinants of health (SDoH) on their patients, most do not believe it is their responsibility to address them. Read More »

D.C. Director of Health's New Plan to Champion Maternal and Child Health

May 24, 2018|11:52 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

On April 18, the District of Columbia Department of Health (DC Health) released the “Perinatal Health and Infant Mortality Report,” a comprehensive plan to improve the health and well-being of mothers and babies in Washington, D.C. Earlier this month, as part of National Women’s Health Week, ASTHO spoke with LaQuandra Nesbitt, MD, MPH, director of DC Health, about the District’s approach to perinatal health, collaboration with community health centers, and opportunities to address disparities in maternal and child health outcomes. Read More »

Oklahoma Partners Collaborate with Tribes on Tobacco Cessation

May 21, 2018|7:05 p.m.| Community Health and Prevention Team

Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, and also makes the top of the list in Oklahoma, where the prevalence of tobacco use among the American Indian population remains higher than any other racial group. To address this disparity, partners in Oklahoma have collaborated with tribal nations on health systems change to enhance tobacco cessation. 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 »

Test, Test: NLE 2018 Tests Hurricane Preparedness

May 16, 2018|10:12 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

On April 30 through May 11, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) conducted its National Level Exercise (NLE) 2018. This event, conducted every two years, brings together state, local, tribal, territorial, private sector, and non-profit partners for a training exercise to test preparedness and response activities in the event of a major disaster. In an effort to incorporate lessons from the 2017 storm season—which proved the costliest year on record—and better prepare for the upcoming 2018 hurricane season, NLE 2018 simulated a Category 4 hurricane making landfall in the Mid-Atlantic region near Hampton Roads, Virginia, moving inland and impacting several HHS Region 3 states, as well as causing mandatory evacuations in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. Read More »

Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center Tackles Childhood Obesity

May 14, 2018|12:32 p.m.| Community Health and Prevention Team

State health leadership can play a key role in the prevention of childhood obesity by partnering with educational systems, community stakeholders, and the private sector to implement cross-cutting programs. The Yale University Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center (PRC) is tackling this issue through Community Health Opportunities Organized with Schools at the Epicenter (CHOOSE), a multi-partner and multi-level intervention for communities in Connecticut. CHOOSE is a five-year Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR) intervention, funded by CDC, designed to improve nutrition, physical activity, cooking skills, academic performance, and body measurements in school-aged children and ultimately all members of target Lower Naugatuck Valley communities. 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 »

Achieving More with Less: Three Strategies for States to Obtain Public Health Accreditation

April 30, 2018|11:31 a.m.| Performance Improvement, Research, and Evaluation

As of April 2018, over 214 million Americans are benefiting from being served by a Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) accredited public health agency, including 30 states and the District of Columbia. Accreditation has been identified as the gold standard in public health practice as it provides a data-driven framework for agencies to streamline processes, improve performance, and implement evidence-based strategies to advance the health of the populations they serve. Although the activities required to become accredited by PHAB were developed to ensure agencies are providing the 10 Essential Public Health Services, limited financial resources exist to support agencies on this meaningful endeavor. Resources are necessary for health agencies to complete the work to meet PHAB’s standards, prepare for accreditation, including documentation preparation, and to pay for the associated fees. Initially, many states used CDC’s National Public Health Improvement Initiative for this funding; however, since the program’s termination in 2014, agencies are required to use innovative strategies to accomplish the work. 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 »

State Legislation in 2018 to Improve Maternal and Child Health Outcomes

April 26, 2018|10:23 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

Birth outcomes in the United States for both mothers and infants lag behind the rest of the industrial world, with significant disparities in outcomes across ethnic, racial, and socio-economic groups. Public health policies may offer key tools to improve the health and health outcomes for mothers and infants. Recently, lawmakers in Florida, Indiana, and Georgia advanced legislation to improve health outcomes for women, infants, and families, including supporting maternal mental health resources and services and strengthening perinatal regionalization efforts. Read More »

ASTHO Looks Toward the Future of Health Security at 2018 Preparedness Summit

April 26, 2018|10:08 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

On April 16-20, the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) convened a wide array of partners in Atlanta and hosted the 2018 Preparedness Summit, “Strengthening National Health Security: Mastering Ordinary Responses, Building Resilience for Extraordinary Events.” Throughout the week, public health preparedness partners and stakeholders discussed a variety of topics, including last year’s devastating wildfire and hurricane seasons, as well nuclear preparedness in the face of escalating geopolitical tensions. The summit also offered an opportunity for attendees to share new research, tools, and resources, with the aim of enhancing the nation’s capabilities to prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters and other emergencies. Read More »

Mission Possible: Healthy Lives for Everyone

April 24, 2018|3:03 p.m.| Leandris C. Liburd, PhD, MPH, MA

Leandris Liburd is the associate director for the Office of Minority Health and Health Equity at CDC. In this role, she leads a wide range of functions in the agency’s work in minority health, health equity, women’s health, and diversity and inclusion management. This Minority Health Month, Liburd reflects on her career in state and local public health, the value of partnerships between public health and other sectors, and the future of health equity across the nation. 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 »

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