The Health Policy Group provides policy analysis and innovative programming for state health policy leaders in the legislative and executive branches. This group also develops many publications and health forums for state leaders.

State leaders need access to critical and timely health policy information. CSG staff works to provide officials with best practices and policy analysis, helping lawmakers identify the best health solutions for their states.

Annual observation created to raise awareness of mental illness and mental health offers a catalyst for making changes in the criminal justice system.

HIV and Hepatitis C, both highly infectious diseases, continue to spread in some states and among some parts of the population. Several states introduced legislation in 2015 and 2016 that explicitly allows needle exchange programs as a means to prevent and control potential public health crises.

When their son Michael passed away, Avi and Julie Israel of Buffalo, N.Y., were distraught. Michael had suffered from an addiction to painkillers and in the depths of misery, had taken his own life. Knowing they weren’t alone in grappling with this issue and compelled to respond, the Israels decided to act. They established an organization called Save the Michaels of the World to increase public awareness, especially among parents.

CSG Midwest
Illinois is leading the way in adopting Medicaid payment reforms to increase access to long-acting reversible contraception, known as LARCs. LARCs — intrauterine devices, or IUDs, and subdermal contraceptive implants — are highly effective forms of birth control, with a pregnancy rate of less than 1 percent within the first year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 
In comparison, oral contraceptive pills have a pregnancy rate of 9 percent and male condoms have a pregnancy rate of 18 percent in the first year. The LARC devices are effective for three to 10 years. Two years ago, Illinois began implementation of a Family Planning Action Plan. It, in part, increased provider rates and required health plans in the state to submit their family planning policies (including referral policies) with the state.
CSG Midwest
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has proposed tightening the state’s lead level guidelines to 10 parts per billion by 2020, stricter than the current federal mark of 15 ppb. The proposed change, announced at a meeting of the Flint Water Interagency Coordinating Committee, is part of a package of proposals that also includes annual water testing at day care centers and schools as well as a requirement that local governments create inventories of lead water pipes and then develop plans to replace them.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced $25 million will be available to states for Zika preparedness. States must apply by June 13, 2016; the estimated award date is August 1, 2016. This funding is not part of the $1.9 billion emergency funding that President Obama has requested from Congress.  

Puerto Rico (to date, the only jurisdiction with locally acquired Zika cases ), Texas, Florida and Hawaii will each be eligible for...

Zubik v. Burwell, involving religious nonprofit objections to providing notice objecting to the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) birth control mandate, does not directly affect state and local government. But it is one piece of a litigation puzzle over this law; most of the puzzle pieces do affect state and local government. In a three-page unauthored opinion the Court did not rule on the merits of the case leaving the lower courts to “resolve any outstanding issues.”

The ACA regulations requires employers offering health insurance to cover certain contraceptives unless employers object on religious grounds. Religious nonprofits claim that submitting a form to their insurer or the federal government saying they object to providing contraception coverage on religious grounds violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.  

A new rule by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that bans the sale of e-cigarettes to anyone under 18 will go into effect Aug. 8. In most cities and states, however, selling e-cigs to anyone under 18 is already prohibited. In some cases, restrictions apply to those under 19 or 21. On May 4, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that prohibits the sale, and purchase, of tobacco products and electronic devices that deliver nicotine to anyone under 21. The law makes California the second state, after Hawaii, to change its smoking age to 21.

CSG South

The Zika epidemic has garnered extensive international attention since the current outbreak was first confirmed in Brazil in May 2015. Since then, active Zika transmissions have been documented in more than 30 countries across the Americas region — including South, Central and North America and the Caribbean — with more cases in new areas expected to follow in the coming weeks and months. In response to the sudden outbreak of the Zika virus and the health complications associated with it, the World Health Organization declared, on February 1, 2016, that the virus constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. By some estimates, up to 4 million people in the Americas may contract the virus by the end of 2016.

In the United States, the only reported cases of the Zika virus have been associated with those who recently traveled to countries with known outbreaks. However, health experts have warned that localized transmissions in the United States are probable in the coming months as temperatures rise and mosquitoes carrying the virus expand into new territories. As a result of relatively favorable climate conditions for the disease-carrying Aedes mosquitoes, many SLC member states are particularly vulnerable to limited outbreaks over the next several months.

On May 5, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued final rules to regulate all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. Many of the rules will go into effect on August 8, 2015. Some will have a longer phase-in timeline.