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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Creating Incentives to Improve Lifestyle for a Healthier Heart

February 27, 2020|1:31 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

February is Heart Month, a time to not only celebrate our love for others but also the organ that pumps us full of life. According to CDC, heart disease-related deaths continue to be the leading cause of death in the U.S. High blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol levels, diabetes, and obesity are key risk factors for developing heart disease. These risk factors are often related to lifestyle choices, such as unhealthy diets, a lack of physical activity, and tobacco use. These behaviors are often influenced by one’s environment, whether they have access to healthy and fresh foods, and opportunities to engage in safe, physical activity. Read More »

Health Equity and Healing Hate: A Conversation with Norman Oliver

February 20, 2020|9:39 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

As Black History Month comes to a close, it’s important to take stock of how far we still have to go in achieving health equity and optimal health for all across racial lines. The reality is African Americans still lag behind other races across many health outcomes: maternal mortality, obesity, hypertension, to name a few. To get a better understanding of this, ASTHO staff spoke with Norman Oliver, MD, MA, the state health official for the Virginia Department of Health. Oliver is an expert on health inequities and was the keynote speaker for a recent conference at the University of Virginia called "Healing Hate: A Public Health Perspective on Civil Rights in America.". Read More »

States Take Legislative Action to End the HIV Epidemic

February 19, 2020|10:32 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

Each year, tens of thousands of Americans are diagnosed with HIV. In February 2019, the federal government announced a goal to end the HIV epidemic by 2030. Meanwhile, states are taking things into their own hands by introducing and implementing evidence-based policies to prevent HIV cases. Policy trends include improving access to pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and establishing programs to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, like syringe services programs. In 2020, ASTHO expects states will continue to adopt laws aimed at preventing new HIV cases. Read More »

Taking Tobacco Cessation to Heart

February 11, 2020|2:43 p.m.| Marcus Plescia MD, MPH | ASTHO Chief Medical Officer

February is American Heart Month, and Friday is Valentine’s Day, so it’s a time to reflect on the people we love and care about. It is well-known that heart disease is the leading cause of death in this country, but many are surprised at the toll it takes on young and middle-aged adults. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) now reports that one in three of the life-changing cardiovascular events that took place in 2016 happened to adults aged 35 to 64. Heart disease is a surprisingly common cause of disability and even death in an age group that is frequently overlooked for public health interventions. If we want to lead long lives for our loved ones, our heart health should be a priority. Read More »

Stronger Together: ASTHO and NACCHO Team Up for Public Health Advocacy

February 11, 2020|10:37 a.m.| Adriane Casalotti, Chief of Government and Public Affairs, NACCHO | Carolyn Mullen, Chief of Government Affairs and Public Relations, ASTHO

The work of public health is often invisible. It is only when there is a disaster or outbreak that the safety net of public health becomes apparent. In our daily lives, we rarely consider the safety of the food we eat, the air we breathe, or the water we drink. But our nation’s public health system is, at its core, a partnership between federal, state, and local governments. That is why again ASTHO and the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) will host a joint public health advocacy day to bring these messages to elected officials from across the country on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. this month. Read More »

Public Health Workforce Continues All-Hands Approach to Coronavirus, Risk to Public Low

February 06, 2020|2:39 p.m.| Jim Blumenstock | ASTHO Chief of Health Security

Under the technical and scientific leadership of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an aggressive layered approach is being implemented in strong partnership with state, local, and territorial public health departments to delay the entry and slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. This containment strategy is driven by prudence, not panic. The temporary measures put in place provide precious time to allow us to enhance and mobilize our readiness efforts and, as of now, this virus is not spreading in the community in the United States and the vast majority of Americans have a low risk of exposure. Read More »

States Consider Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Prevention and Treatment

February 04, 2020|10:49 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

States are adopting a variety of policies to address neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). In 2019, state legislation trended toward standardizing screening and treatment for mothers and newborns, adding the diagnosis of NAS to the list of notifiable conditions, reporting requirements and safe care plans for infants with NAS and their caregivers. Read More »

Flavored Tobacco Products Dominate State Legislatures as 2020 Kicks Off

January 30, 2020|11:21 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

As state legislatures return to session, legislation to regulate the sale and distribution of flavored e-cigarettes is ramping up. Many of the proposals go beyond the federal policy by prohibiting the sale of all flavored e-cigarettes and/or flavored tobacco products within the state. Below is an overview of current state legislative proposals to address flavored e-cigarettes and flavored tobacco. Read More »

The 2019 Novel Coronavirus: What We Know

January 23, 2020|4:55 p.m.| Jim Blumenstock | ASTHO Chief of Health Security

This week, the first case of 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) was confirmed in the United States. The current outbreak of this new coronavirus began last month in Wuhan, China and is rapidly evolving and escalating. Hundreds of cases in China have been confirmed, including cases outside Wuhan, with additional cases being identified in a growing number of countries, including the United States. While many cases have reported some link to a seafood and animal market in Wuhan City, there are a growing number of patients who are not linked to any markets, suggesting limited person-to-person transmission in addition to animal-to-person transmission. Read More »

Regulating Toxic Compounds: Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)

January 23, 2020|11:06 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

Even if you aren’t familiar with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), you are likely familiar with the materials this family of man-made chemicals is used in: water-repellent clothing, stain resistant fabrics, paints, firefighting foams, and cookware. During production and use, PFAS can migrate into the soil, water, and air. But because of their wide use and the fact that they do not easily breakdown in the environment, PFAS can accumulate over time in people and animals. In some instances, exposure to and absorption of certain PFAS has been associated with harmful health effects such as, low infant birth weight and increased risk of certain types of cancers. Read More »

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 »

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