The June 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, one of President Barack Obama’s signature domestic policy initiatives, included a bit of a surprise for states. Writing the majority opinion of the court, Chief Justice John Roberts acknowledged Congress’ ability to incentivize states’ participation in programs under the ACA, such as Medicaid expansion, but with a limit. “What Congress is not free to do is to penalize states that choose not to participate in that new program by taking away their existing Medicaid funding,” he wrote. And with that, a major component of the health care reform legislation became an option for the states, leading to a series of new debates in statehouses across the country.

The U.S. spends more on health care than any other country and that has a big impact on jobs in the health care field. Employment in the health care field has grown significantly in recent years and will likely continue to grow at a strong pace in the next decade.

Michael Botticelli serves as the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy at the White House. In long-term recovery from a substance use disorder for more than 26 years, Botticelli has worked to confront the stigma associated with substance use disorders, which can prevent individuals from seeking treatment. He believes making a variety of treatment options available is key to addressing the opioid epidemic and saving lives.

 A new study published in the journal Health Affairs shows a significant reduction in prescription painkiller use as well as other prescribed drugs in states where medical marijuana has been legalized. 

When Hurricane Ike hit Harris County, Texas, in 2008, the damage was substantial. The second costliest hurricane in America’s history destroyed a vast stretch of housing in the area, leaving thousands of people homeless and devastating local infrastructure. This created a host of challenges for public officials, not least of which was restoring access to water and electricity and rebuilding homes. Using funding from a Community Development Block Grant and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Harris County began its recovery process. Unfortunately, the county quickly encountered difficulties with contractors regarding code review and safety standards.

On June 22, 2016, President Barack Obama signed into law the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, or H.R. 2576, which provides for a major overhaul of the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act, or TSCA. While TSCA was enacted to regulate chemicals, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had only mandated testing on approximately 200 of the tens of thousands of chemicals used in commerce since TSCA’s inception. In addition, the EPA had restricted the uses of only five chemicals in existence before the passage of the TSCA in 1976.

Midwestern states have adopted a variety of intervention strategies designed to combat the opioid epidemic and manage the risks associated with injection drug use. These harm reduction efforts include syringe exchange programs; medication-assisted therapy; overdose prevention; public education campaigns; and policies and laws designed to enhance collaboration among advocates, law enforcement and health care professionals.

by Joshua Sharfstein
According to the National Academy of Sciences, the average life expectancy is lower in the United States than in other nations with advanced economies. Within our borders, African-Americans, rural Americans and poor Americans on average die years earlier than others. In fact, for some groups–including poor, white Americans–as a result of suicide, drug addiction and chronic illness, life expectancy is now actually falling. It is no surprise that political leaders across the ideological spectrum increasingly are asking what can be done to protect and promote the health of their communities. In many areas, county and state governments are calling on state and local public health departments to deliver major improvements in health. What does it take to save lives—not one by one through medical treatment, but hundreds of thousands or even millions at a time? This may sound like a crazy question, but it’s the right one to ask. Public health campaigns have in fact saved the lives of millions of people in the United States and around the world from malnutrition, infectious disease, unclean water and air, and other preventable conditions. In the United States, even today, up to half of all premature deaths are preventable.

On July 5, 2016, Hawaii became the third state to require all public and private health insurance providers to cover 12 months’ worth of contraceptives at one time. Other states introduced similar legislation in 2016. Research has shown that this change could have enormous effects.

Kaiser Family Foundation has posted an excellent web panel discussion on drug pricing. Representatives from Pfizer, a large international pharmaceutical company; Express Scripts, and Aetna, a major health insurance carrier, talk with Larry Levitt, a Kaiser senior vice president.

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