The first lab-confirmed case of Ebola to be diagnosed in the U.S. was confirmed by the CDC in Dallas, Texas on Sept. 30, 2014. The man, identified as Thomas Eric Duncan, had traveled from Liberia to Texas and passed away on Oct. 8, 2014. Two healthcare workers treating Mr. Duncan subsequently became infected, but have since been cleared and released. The CDC confirmed that a fourth case was diagnosed on Oct. 24, 2014 in a medical aid worker in New York City who had returned from serving with Doctors Without Borders in Guinea. The patient is currently in isolation in a New York City hospital.

As the reports on the spread of Ebola flood in from West Africa, and now from our own country, many state leaders are asking whether their states are prepared to handle a possible epidemic. In this blog, CSG presents some background on preparedness planning and funding in the states.In 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued national standards for state and local planning for public health preparedness

     Supporters of Proposition 46 call it the Troy and Alana Pack Patient Safety Act of 2014 after two children who died at the hands of a driver under the influence of prescription drugs and alcohol.  This alone sets a deeply personal cord with Proposition 46 advocates.

Two cities in California—San Francisco and Berkeley—will be presenting voters with soda-tax initiatives in the upcoming November election. Soda and sugar-sweetened drinks such as sports drinks and energy drinks would be taxed, although infant formula, nutritional drinks, and diet drinks would not be taxed. Michael F. Jacobson, the executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, said in an article in the New York Times that the soda industry has spent over $117 million since 2009 to combat soda taxes in the United States and is now paying attention to San Francisco and Berkeley.

Hunger affects millions of children every year in the U.S. and is linked to greater rates of absenteeism and school disciplinary problems. Those behaviors are, in turn, associated with lower academic achievement and greatly increase the chance a child will drop out of school – which comes with a huge price tag for tax payers. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in a 2014 study, report 259,000 preventable deaths each year. The study examined the top five leading causes of death - heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases, strokes, and unintentional injuries - that account for two-thirds of all deaths every year. The rates for these preventable deaths varied enormously across states. Where an individual lives in the United States has a direct effect on their health and, ultimately, their life span. The CDC made several recommendations to states to decrease the number of preventable deaths.

The New York Court of Appeals in June 2014 overturned New York City's highly publicized soda ban that limited purchases of fountain drinks to 16-ounce cups in an attempt to reduce constituents' consumption of soda.  Most states have levied taxes on soda purchase intending to influence consumer choices, promote public health and generate revenue. 

Skin cancer is caused by excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation and results in about 13,000 deaths annually. Melanoma, an aggressive form of skin cancer, is responsible for 9,700 deaths each year. The American Cancer Society estimates 76,000 new cases of melanoma in 2014. Because tanning beds increase the risk of developing skin cancer, the FDA has recently reclassified tanning beds and states have enacted legislation limiting minors’ access to tanning beds.

Twenty-one state legislators from 14 states gathered in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 15-17, 2014, for a CSG-led Medicaid Leadership Policy Academy. Almost 50 percent of the attendees were chairs or vice-chairs of health committees in their home states. Nearly half were health care professionals outside their legislative duties. 

The meeting was a follow-up to the Medicaid Policy Academies CSG has held in 2012, 2013, and 2014 for legislatos who have been newly elected...

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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