While 5 percent of the general U.S. population is affected by a serious mental illness, the rate in state prisons is much higher: 24 percent among females and 16 percent among males.
More than half the time, these illnesses occur in conjunction with substance abuse — a combination that, when left untreated, can lead to an increased risk of recidivism, according to Hallie Fader-Towe, a program director at The Council of State Governments’ Justice Center. She led a discussion on mental health and the criminal justice system at the Midwestern Legislative Conference Annual Meeting in July.
At July’s annual meeting of the MLC Health and Human Services Committee, legislators discussed options for building health care systems that are more efficient — with the goals of trimming costs and improving patient outcomes.
One of the themes discussed by policymakers was “integrated delivery systems” — medical groups made up of hospitals, labs, pharmacies and other facilities. The goal of these systems is to allow patients to get all their medical care from a group of associated providers that share information and coordinate care.
In the weeks leading up to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on the federal Affordable Care Act, policymakers, commentators and experts mulled over the many possibilities that could come out of the landmark case. But virtually no one could have predicted the complicated outcome — or the unexpected lineup of justices in the 5-4 decision.
A debate about how to fund Medicaid, the public health insurance program that now covers 16 percent of Americans, is under consideration by state and federal policymakers alike. And one idea that has received particular attention of late is shifting Medicaid to a block-grant program.
Starting next year, roughly half of Midwestern states will require voters to show photo identification at the polls — a shift in state policy seen either as a tool for preventing election fraud or as an instrument of voter suppression.