Health Equity and Disparities

In a 5-4 decision in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra, the Supreme Court ruled that a California law requiring licensed pregnancy clinics to disclose they don’t offer abortions and unlicensed pregnancy clinics to disclose the fact they are unlicensed likely violates the First Amendment. The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) filed an amicus brief in this case asking the Court not to apply the highest level of scrutiny (strict scrutiny) to commercial speech or to every disclosure requirement adopted by states and local governments.

California law requires that “licensed covered facilities” that provide family planning or pregnancy-related services must disseminate a notice stating that publicly-funded family planning services, including contraception and abortion, are available. It also requires “unlicensed covered facilities” to disseminate a notice they are unlicensed. The author of the law noted there are nearly 200 licensed and unlicensed crisis pregnancy centers in California. These centers “aim to discourage and prevent women from seeking abortions.”

The National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) operates licensed and unlicensed covered facilities that don’t offer abortions. It argues these requirements violate its First Amendment right to free speech.

In Reed v. Town of Gilbert, Arizona (2015) the Supreme Court held that strict (usually fatal) scrutiny applies to content-based regulations of speech. One of the questions in NIFLA v. Becerra is whether the Court means for Reed to apply to (nearly) every law regulating content-based speech. The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) filed an amicus brief arguing that Reed should not be read that broadly.     

California law requires that licensed pregnancy-related clinics disseminate a notice stating that publically-funded family planning services, including contraception and abortion are available. It also requires unlicensed pregnancy-related clinics to disseminate a notice they are unlicensed. The National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) operates 111 pregnancy centers in California. None offer abortions or abortion referrals; only 73 are licensed.

CSG Midwest
In the rural southern Indiana school district that Rep. Terry Goodin not only represents in the state Capitol but also leads as its superintendent, there is no pharmacy or hospital. The district, too, has no full-time school nurse.
“We have a lot of students without access to a local doctor or health care,” he adds, “and sick children can’t learn.”
But because of last year’s passage of HB 1263, a new model of delivering care to young people has been opened — school-based clinics that connect students with a health provider via telecommunication technologies. Along with establishing new standards for telemedicine, that 2016 state law allows prescriptions to be dispensed remotely and for physician-patient relationships to be established without an in-office visit.
CSG Midwest
It seems a recipe for health care disaster: Combine population growth with an aging population, add expanded health insurance coverage, and … hope for the best? The growing need for health care workers of all disciplines is well recognized. Midwestern states have already moved to address the growing crisis with recruitment and retention strategies, as well as by redefining professionals’ scopes of work and expanding the use of new applications of technology such as telehealth.

Three speakers provided a look at major health policy issues, with emphasis on state policy options available in 2017. Michael Williams discussed health equity and disparities and how they drive health care costs. Dania Palanker reviewed health insurance exchanges and provided data for the 2016 open enrollment period. She also looked at the major policy proposals being considered by the incoming Trump administration. Ameet Sarpatwari analyzed pharmaceutical drug pricing and state policy recommendations recently developed by a work...

The U.S. spends more on health care than any other country and that has a big impact on jobs in the health care field. Employment in the health care field has grown significantly in recent years and will likely continue to grow at a strong pace in the next decade.

In the last month, legislation to eliminate the so-called “tampon tax” has been passed in New York, Connecticut and Illinois. The push to exempt tampons, pads, and other feminine hygiene products from state sales taxes has come amid criticism that the tax unfairly affects women. Supporters argue that menstrual products should be treated like other medical necessities, which are currently tax exempt in most states.

Emotions ran high at the Supreme Court today in oral argument of what is considered to be the most important abortion cases in over 20 years. Chief Justice Roberts repeatedly tried to cut off Justice Sotomayor as she asked questions when time was up of one of the attorneys arguing. When she and Justice Ginsburg did it again he didn’t even try to stop them.

Perhaps more than any other issue all the Justices except Justice Kennedy are considered to have entrenched views on abortion. The questions for Justice Kennedy following oral argument appear to be whether he feels he has enough information to decide this case, and if he does, where he stands.  

South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard may find that the third time is the charm as he negotiates with the federal government to live up to its treaty obligations to provide health services to the state’s Native Americans. Twice before in recent state history, governors have tried and failed to solve the longstanding problem, which results in a massive cost shift to state revenues to pay for health care for many Native Americans. In his Dec. 8, 2015, budget address in Pierre, S.D., Daugaard proposed that should the federal government fulfill its obligation to provide health services to Native Americans, the state would use the projected $67 million annual savings to the state to finance the cost of Medicaid expansion.

A long sought-after pathway for medical doctors to treat patients across state lines moved one step closer to reality with the inaugural meeting of the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact Commission—or IMLC—held Oct. 27-28 in Chicago.

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