New Arkansas governor, Asa Hutchinson, will ask the legislature to continue to fund the private option Medicaid expansion through the end of 2016, according to the Arkansas Times. Then he intends to come up with a new plan for 2017 and beyond.

Gov. Hutchinson alluded to Section 1332 waivers, sometimes called waivers on steroids, that will be available to states in 2017 to implement wholesale reforms of Medicaid while releasing an approved state from many, if not all, of the requirements of the Affordable Care Act.

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.

CSG Director of Health Policy Debra Miller outlines the top five issues in health policy for 2015, including Medicaid expansion, growing the health workforce, integrating health and human services, long-term care, and mental health and substance abuse. 

Calling his proposal Insure Tennessee, Gov. Bill Haslam said yestereday he is requesting an amendment to the state’s TennCare demonstration project for a two year pilot project to cover as many as 200,000 low-income individuals under the Medicaid expansion available through the Affordable Care Act, according to numerous press reports.

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Breast milk contains important nutrients, immune-system antibodies and growth factors that all contribute to a baby’s health, particularly babies who are vulnerable because they are premature or underweight. But a number of circumstances — including maternal illness, death, surgery, use of drugs or medications, and certain chronic conditions — can prevent a mother from being able to breastfeed.

One potential alternative for some babies, then, is the use of human donor milk. Indiana, Iowa, Michigan and Ohio are among the states with nonprofit human-milk banks that have been certified by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America. (The association’s certification standards were established with input from the federal government and the blood and tissue industries.)

This act adds physicians, nurses, physical therapists, and physician assistants to a list of mental health professionals required to complete training in suicide assessment, treatment and management every six years. It requires the model list of training programs to be updated periodically, and when practicable, to contain content specific to veterans. It also requires the state to complete a suicide prevention plan.

This act revises the education and orientation requirements for birth centers and their families to incorporate safe sleep practices and causes of Sudden Unexpected Infant Death. It also makes legislative findings with respect to the sudden unexpected death of an infant under a specified age, as well as defines the term “Sudden Unexpected Infant Death”, and includes other provisions relating to training requirements for first responders and health professionals.

This act specifies that any pregnant woman referred for drug abuse or drug dependence treatment at any treatment resource that receives public funding would be a priority user of available treatment. The department of mental health and substance abuse services must ensure that family-oriented drug abuse or drug dependence treatment is available, as appropriations allow. A treatment resource that receives public funds may not refuse to treat a person solely because the person is pregnant as long as appropriate services are offered by the treatment resource.

This act amends Tennessee’s fetal homicide law to allow the prosecution of a pregnant woman for the illegal use of a narcotic drug, if her child is born addicted or harmed by the drugs she took during her pregnancy. The charge of assault is a misdemeanor offense, but if the child is harmed, aggravated assault, with a 15-year maximum prison term, could be charged. That a woman is enrolled in long term drug addiction treatment before the child is born, remains in the program after delivery and successfully completes the program is an affirmative defense under the law. The law is set to expire on July 1, 2016.

Mental Health First Aid Training Act

This act directs the state Department of Human Services to establish and administer the Mental Health First Aid training program so that certified trainers can provide residents, professionals, and members of the public with training on how to identify and assist someone who is believed to be developing or has developed a...

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