CSG Midwest
In the early part of 2015, an outbreak of HIV began spreading quickly in the small, southeast Indiana town of Austin. By the end of April, the number of confirmed cases had reached nearly 150, with many of them linked to use of the opioid painkiller Opana via needle injection.
Gov. Mike Pence declared a public health emergency in Scott County to deal with the outbreak and to allow for a temporary needle-exchange program, but Sen. Patricia Miller says it was important for the legislature to act as well.

Depending on how the Supreme Court rules in King v. Burwell this summer, eight million residents of states now using the healthcare.gov exchange may lose federal insurance subsidies unless their state creates its own exchange. Some existing state exchanges have struggled with implementation over the last year. Others have been more successful.

During a CSG-East webinar on May 20th, Peter VanLoon, from Connecticut’s health insurance exchange, will describe how Access Health CT avoided most problems. Building on its success, Access Health CT is offering technical assistance and business services to states wishing to create or enhance their state-based exchange.

In this age of data -- lots and lots of data, even big data and metadata -- do you ever wonder what are the most important measures to track health?

The Institute of Medicine did and just released a listing of the 15 most important measures to provide "consistent benchmarks for health progress across the nation and improve system performance in the highest-priority areas."

Florida’s Gov. Scott took the Obama administration to federal court on April 28, claiming that they are attempting to force the state to expand Medicaid by threatening to withdraw other federal health funds.

There is no question that dental sealants prevent tooth decay and school sealant programs have been found to reduce the incidence of tooth decay by an average of 60 percent. 

The Pew Charitable Trusts released a report that grades states on how well they are reaching third graders, whether high-need schools are providing dental sealant programs and what other state policies are in place to encourage this evidence-based...

CSG South

In recent years, the United States has seen a growing popularity with the use of electronic cigarettes and similar electronic nicotine delivery devices. Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, are battery-operated single-use or reusable devices with interchangeable cartridges that use a type of heating element to turn nicotine and other chemicals into a vapor inhaled by its user. The cartridges come in a variety of colors and flavors, like apple pie, cotton candy, mint chocolate, and tutti frutti, just to name a few. It is suggested that the array of flavors, combined with the relative ease of purchasing e-cigarettes and its components at mall kiosks and online, has made e-cigarettes particularly popular among youth.

This Regional Resource from The Council of State Governments’ Southern Office, the Southern Legislative Conference (SLC), examines the regulations proposed by the FDA and the actions taken by 14 of the 15 SLC member states with regard to e-cigarettes through the 2014 legislative session.

CSG Midwest
When it comes to improving health outcomes, many policymakers look first to strategies that can provide better care for people who are ill. But some experts argue that medical care itself accounts only for a small part of positive health outcomes. The vast majority of interventions that can make people healthier, and reduce spending on health care, need to happen long before someone enters a doctor’s office.
That’s why states across the Midwest are exploring ways to address so-called “social determinants” to health — from low levels of income and education, to high levels of community violence, to a lack of access to housing and transportation.

According to just-released Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, 2 million high school students and almost half a million middle school students used e-cigarettes in 2014. E-cigarettes have taken over as the most commonly used tobacco product among high school and middle school students. Youth use of traditional cigarettes continues to decline – only 9.2 percent of high school students reported smoking cigarettes in 2014 compared to 16 percent in 2011.  

Increasing health care expenditures are a source of great worry to public officials. Perhaps new data that show that public programs – Medicare and Medicaid – seem to hold down per capita spending growth more than private insurance will provide some reassurance to officials as they consider expanding public programs in their states.

Today the federal government announced that it would be taking grant applications for $67 million for navigators to link consumers to federally-facilitated and state-based health insurance exchanges. 

The speakers on the conference call characterized the announcement and posting as part of the "regular grant process" but one has to wonder if this is a sign of the administration's confidence that the Supreme Court will find in their favor in the King v. Burwell case.

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