CSG Director of Health Policy Debra Miller outlines the top five issues for 2014, including Medicaid expansion and cost containment, health insurance exchange implementation, building adequate mental health systems, health workforce adequacy and the aging of the baby boomers and the pressure it puts on health care systems.

The cost of health care in the United States has grown an average of 2.4 percent faster than the gross domestic product since 1970; it now represents 18 percent of the total GDP, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. One challenge contributing significantly to these costs is access to health care in hard-to-serve locations. Problems accessing care is especially common in rural areas. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, 21 percent of the U.S. population lives in rural areas, but only 11 percent of medical specialists practice in those areas. This results in a significant segment of the population that is frequently underserved. One possible solution is a series of medical licensing compacts intended to reduce existing barriers to the process of gaining licensure in multiple states.

CSG Director of Health Policy Debra Miller outlines the top five issues for 2013, including Medicaid funding and expanded eligibility, health insurance exchange implementation, mental health and violence prevention, promoting healthy behavior through incentives, and health workforce adequacy.

BE IT NOW THEREFORE RESOLVED, that the Council of State Governments urges states to conduct fingerprint based criminal background checks on all nurse licensure applicants by  enacting a relevant provision in the jurisdiction’s Nurse Practice Act or relevant regulations.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends six strategies to reduce the spread of HIV and STD's. Only one of 32 rural states has all six policies in place and less than one-third have four or more of the six recommended policies in place. 

Rural households have worse health outcomes than urban households. Access to care is limited due to less insurance coverage, financial hardship and geographical access to care. Highlighted state policies address increasing the health care workforce in rural areas.

An Indiana proposal would require medical professionals to pass a criminal background check in order to practice in the state.

Today Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, announced the availability of $250 million to expand the primary health care workforce. The funds are part of the federal reform legislation passed in March.

The funds will be used to expand the number of primary care physicians by 500 by 2015 and support training for additional physician assistants and nurse practitioners. States will be granted $5 million to plan and...

A survey of the number and type of physician shortage areas in each state. State solutions include increasing the number of physicians through medical school enrollment and incentive packages.