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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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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 »

Cara Christ: Keeping Arizona Prepared

June 21, 2018|9:23 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

This year, when CDC’s Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response released its annual 2018 National Snapshot, Arizona received high marks for public health preparedness, including top scores for emergency operations coordination and public health laboratory testing. ASTHO spoke with Cara Christ, MD, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS), about the department’s preparedness priorities, last year’s opioid and wildfire response, as well as collaborations with local health departments to help address these issues and improve preparedness around the state. 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 »

ASTHO Attends 2018 National Association for Vector-Borne Disease Control Officials Meeting

June 13, 2018|10:08 a.m.| Health Security

On May 9-10, members of ASTHO’s environmental health, research and evaluation, and state health policy teams attended a meeting hosted by the National Association for Vector-Borne Disease Control Officials (NAVCO) in Fort Collins, CO. This year’s conference was NAVCO’s first in-person gathering in over a decade. As one of ASTHO’s affiliate partners, NAVCO develops and maintains close working relationships with state, territorial, federal, and other governmental agencies engaged in the field of public health vector control, with a focus on vectorborne diseases. Read More »

Medicaid Expansion: An Opportunity to Address the Social Determinants of Health

June 07, 2018|10:34 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

On May 30, the Virginia Senate by a vote of 23-17 and the House of Delegates by a vote of 67-31 approved the expansion of the state’s Medicaid program. With Gov. Ralph Northam expected to approve the legislation, the commonwealth is poised to become the 33rd state to expand its Medicaid program to cover an estimated additional 400,000 low-income adults with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL), which is an annual income of no more than $16,753 for a one-person household. The bill authorized the expansion of Medicaid and included provisions requiring the state to submit a waiver to CMS establishing work requirements and cost-sharing requirements for the state’s Medicaid expansion population. If approved by CMS and implemented, Virginia will become the fifth state with work requirements in its Medicaid expansion program, joining Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, and New Hampshire. 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 »

Rich Hamburg’s Alliance with Safe States Strengthens Injury and Violence Prevention

May 31, 2018|2:13 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Rich Hamburg is executive director of Safe States Alliance. Prior to this, he served as executive vice president and COO of Trust for America’s Health. Hamburg has more than 30 years of experience as a leading health policy advocate. With National Safety Month around the corner in June, ASTHO sat down with Hamburg to discuss his new role, Safe States’ reinvigorated mission to strengthen the practice of injury and violence prevention, and opportunities for public health leaders to raise awareness around these important issues. Read More »

World No Tobacco Day: State Policy Approaches

May 31, 2018|12:58 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

With over two million annual deaths from tobacco-related cardiovascular disease, the World Health Organization (WHO) is reminding us during World No Tobacco Day on May 31 that tobacco breaks hearts. Here in the United States, even with promising strides to reduce tobacco use, tobacco-related cardiovascular diseases still claim over 30,000 lives each year. These deaths, however, can be avoided by preventing initiation of tobacco use among minors and young adults and promoting tobacco cessation efforts. Read More »

The Intersection of Tobacco and Heart Disease: State and Territorial Opportunities for World No Tobacco Day

May 30, 2018|1:16 p.m.| Marcus Plescia, MD, MPH | ASTHO Chief Medical Officer Forum

Each year, the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners recognize World No Tobacco Day on May 31 to raise awareness about the risks associated with tobacco use. On this day, partners are encouraged to advocate for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption and promote focused campaigns. This year, World No Tobacco Day focuses on tobacco and heart disease, two public health issues on which ASTHO has focused and provided ongoing support to state and territorial public health departments. Read More »

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 »

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