Health

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.

The Council of State Governments will release a new report, "Diabetes in the United States: Examining Growth Trends, State Funding Sources and Economic Impact", on state spending for diabetes at the 2017 CSG National Conference in Las Vegas on Dec. 15. Click here for press release. 

CSG, with assistance from the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors, surveyed all 50 states to discover how many states...

CSG Midwest
Four years ago, Northwestern University Medicine researchers completed the largest-scale study to date of depression among postpartum women. The findings were surprising to some (including the researchers), and disturbing to most everyone: 14 percent of women in the study screened positive for depression, a condition among new mothers that often isn’t treated or even screened in today’s U.S. health care system.
“It’s the No. 1 complication of pregnancy,” says Jamie Zahlaway Belsito, advocacy chair for the National Coalition for Maternal Mental Health.
And without effective intervention, she adds, depression during pregnancy and among new mothers can negatively impact birth outcomes, child development, and a woman’s own long-term health.
More federal resources for states to help with this public health problem will soon be on the way.
Under the U.S. 21st Century Cures Act, signed into law in late 2016, federal grants will be awarded to states to develop or strengthen programs that improve the availability of maternal depression screening and treatment. Funding priority will be given to states that propose “to improve or enhance access to screening services … in primary care settings.”
As of late October, it was not yet known exactly how much money would be appropriated for this new competitive federal grant program. According to Belsito, it most likely will be between $1 million and $5 million annually over the next five years.
CSG Midwest
Minnesota has secured federal approval for its $542 million reinsurance program, which was created earlier this year via legislation (HF 5) and has been credited by officials with lowering premiums on the state’s health insurance exchange by 20 percent.
CSG Midwest
An extensive new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation, “Medicaid Moving Ahead in Uncertain Times: Results from a 50-State Medicaid Budget Survey for State Fiscal Years 2017 and 2018,” provides an overview of states’ approaches to eligibility, premiums and managed care initiatives, emerging delivery system and payment reforms, long-term services and support reform, and provider rates and taxes.

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.

In NIFLA v. Becerra NIFLA claims that both requirements violate the First Amendment Free Speech Clause. The Ninth Circuit disagreed.

On Tuesday, Nov. 7, Maine voters approved (59 percent of the vote) a ballot measure to expand Medicaid eligibility to an estimated 70,000 low-income individuals. Maine is the first state to approve Medicaid expansion through a voter referendum. It would bring the expansion total to 32 states and the District of Columbia.

Gov. Paul LePage, who has vetoed Medicaid expansion bills five times, has issued a statement saying he will not implement the measure unless the legislature fully funds it.

On November 3, the House voted to extend federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance, or CHIP, program, passing the measure with a 242-174 bipartisan vote. But the bill also must pass in the Senate before it can take effect, so many states will likely run out of money before they receive any new CHIP funds.

Today Seema Verma, administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), spoke to the state Medicaid directors at their fall conference in Washington, D.C. She outlined her vision for the future of Medicaid and unveiled a number of new CMS policies during that speech and in this press release. She pledged to give states more freedom to design innovative programs and to remove federal impediments that stand in the way of states.

Maine voters will have a chance to vote on Nov. 7, 2017, whether to expand Medicaid coverage to an estimated 70,000 Mainers under the age of 65 with incomes below or equal to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. This is exactly the Medicaid expansion provision included in the Affordable Care Act.

In Virginia, the November ballot impact on health care is a little less direct, but is also being watched by political observers. All 100 House of Delegate seats are up for election. If the Democrats pick up a number of seats the legislature could approve Medicaid expansion, bringing health care insurance to 400,000 low income Virginians.

With insurance coverage for 8.9 million children hanging in the balance, states have been anxiously waiting to find out if federal funding will be extended for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP. In early October, bills have passed out of committee in both the House and Senate to extend federal funding through 2022 for CHIP and other related programs. Both bills would extend CHIP funding and maintain the 23-percentage-point increase in the enhanced federal matching rate through FY 2019.

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