Today, NPR reported that federal funding for innovative medical research has declined in recent years, putting potentially important research projects and labs in jeopardy. In turn, the discoveries made by research completed at universities are the basis for new treatments and technologies marketed by private sector companies to cure disease and improve health. 

According to the report, the National...

The Associated Press is reporting today that the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia will have all its full panel of judges re-hear the challenge to granting subsidies for health insurance purchase in the states that have not implemented state-based health insurance exchanges.

The initial ruling had come from a three-judge panel and called...

The federal government has approved a waiver from Pennsylvania that will move the state forward on expansion of Medicaid to low income residents starting Jan. 1, 2015. Pennsylvania becomes the 27th state to expand Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act. 

In a press release, Gov. Corbett says, “From the beginning, I said we needed a plan that was created in Pennsylvania for Pennsylvania − a plan that would...

In the first five years of King County’s employee wellness program, from 2007 to 2011, the county spent $15 million on the program and saved $46 million. King County, Washington, launched its employee wellness program, “Healthy Incentives Program,” in 2006, in response to rising health care costs at 9.8 percent from 2001 to 2005.

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A year after it joined the growing list of states that allow for the medical use of marijuana, Illinois has modified its law to provide relief for children who suffer from seizures. SB 2636 will take effect at the start of next year. It permits children under 18, with a parent’s consent, to be treated with non-smokable forms of medical marijuana. The state’s original law did not include seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy, among the list of debilitating medical conditions that could legally be treated with medical marijuana.

Alaska presents some unique challenges when it comes to delivering health care to rural residents. Telemedicine is helping to solve some of those challenges.

Laurel Wood, former immunizations director for the Alaska Department of Public Health, told attendees Monday at the CSG/CSG West Health Committee meeting that Alaska is one-fifth the size of lower 48 states. It is twice as large as Texas, but it has a population density of just 1.2 people per square mile.

Tom Massey, office director of policy, communications and operations for the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, said the state’s decision to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act came down to math.

“We figured it would create about 20,000 more jobs over the next 20 years, bring in about $4.4 billion more into our economy and the average household earnings would rise by about $600,” said Massey, who spoke Monday during the CSG/CSG West Health Committee meeting.

Several medical professions have been working with CSG’s National Center on Interstate Compacts to explore the use of compacts to promote license portability to ensure access to high quality health care. These efforts have the potential to help facilitate telemedicine and widen access to a variety of medical services. Licensing compacts also provide a mechanism to ensure state regulatory agencies maintain their licensing and disciplinary authority. This session featured a discussion about the proposed compacts and their potential to enhance access to medical care across the states.

There are some inherent problems with trying to implement state marijuana laws that, technically, are a federal crime.

Thomas A. Burns, director of pharmacy programs for the Oregon Health Authority, asked attendees at Sunday’s Future of Western Legislatures session if any of them were officers.

“You can’t be in this room,” he laughed. “Everybody else in this room, we’re going to tell you how to aid and abet a federal felony.”

While debate about improving the nation’s health care system continues, policymakers, health care experts and consumers essentially agree on three goals—improving patient care, creating healthier communities and reducing health care costs. States face huge challenges in developing successful strategies for broad population impact, and even bigger challenges for having a positive impact in rural areas and among certain disadvantaged population groups. Speakers addressed strategies for improving population health, increasing immunization coverage, and providing data to guide state decision-making.

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