Top Five 2015 Health Issues: A Further Examination

A flurry of state governors - in the 24 states that have not yet expanded Medicaid - are talking about expanding Medicaid eligibility as allowed under the Affordable Care Act. Many of these governors are offering up solutions that they say are designed uniquely for their state, carefully differentiating the new proposals from “traditional” Medicaid. This activity is likely to continue throughout 2015. Outside ACA issues, states will consider a number of health delivery issues. These include how to match the workforce to the need for professionals and how to expand some service areas such as mental health and substance abuse.

Rep. Hans Zeiger introduced legislation in Washington that would apply the concept of social impact bonds to state human services projects and programs.

House Bill 2337 would create a 14-member Washington Social Investment Committee, made up of legislators, financial and philanthropic experts as well as social scientists. No later than December 1, 2014, the steering committee would develop an implementation plan for at least one pilot program that uses social impact bonds or other public-private financing mechanisms to finance and deliver prevention-focused social or health care services. The bill received its first hearing yesterday before the House Early Learning and Human Services Committee.

“The old bureaucratic models of solving problems have too often fallen short; we need to embrace creativity and innovation as we seek to address some of the most difficult issues before us,” Rep. Zeiger said in a press release. “It is time we engage the private sector in solving some of our biggest public problems. Potentially, investors could receive a return based on the success of the program in solving a problem and reducing costs to the state.”

The explosion of innovation has the potential to change the face of medicine, improving lives along the way. Speakers traced the path of new medications from discovery in the laboratory to successful commercialization by private-sector companies to life-saving treatment in health care settings. Mr. Bagger,V.P. of Celgene Corp., addressed the committee and emphasized the value of pharmaceutical research and development to the overall U.S. economy. Dr. Jensen, director of the KU Cancer Center, discussed the role a small recurring state budget line item played in helping the Center achieve its National Cancer Insititute designation.

James Collins is a self-described techie nerd. He reads a lot about technology and recognizes the role it plays in change, particularly for state governments. In fact, his master’s degree from Champlain College in Vermont is in managing innovation and information technology. Collins, 43, a deputy secretary of state in Delaware, also heads up the state’s Division of Professional Regulation so he know the impact technology has had.

The Interagency Coordinating Council on Emergency Preparedness and Individuals with Disabilities maintains "whether an emergency is caused by natural forces or by a terrorist attack, persons with a disability will probably require assistance. Some physical disabilities may be obvious, while others, such as mental illness or cognitive disabilities, may not be obvious. Every person and every disability is unique. Respecting people with disability and treating them with dignity must be part of the response."

According to the Population Resource Center, “about one in eight Americans are age 65 or above today, compared to one in 10 in the 1950s. By 2030, one in five Americans will be 65 or older, roughly the same as Florida today. The number of people age 65 or older will nearly double between 2000 and 2030.” This increasing number of seniors will need help as they age to maintain a good quality of life and to make wise end-of-life decisions. The type of help they get and who provides it will involve these seniors, their families and caregivers, and a host of government agencies.

The Rural Physician Scholars Program, a medical school initiative in the state of Mississippi, aims to attract current and future medical school graduates to the practice of medicine in rural Mississippi communities in exchange for scholarship funding.