Austin, Ind., a city of about 4,200 people in Scott County, Ind., off Interstate 65, has been the epicenter of an HIV outbreak, said Maureen Hayden, statehouse bureau chief for CNHI Indiana Newspapers. HIV has spread among intravenous drug users and more than 170 cases have now been reported. Hayden, a reporter who continues to cover the outbreak in southeast Indiana, was one of three presenters who discussed Indiana’s situation and substance abuse treatment options during a recent CSG eCademy webcast, “Harm Reduction: Needle-Borne Disease and Substance Abuse.”

CSG Midwest
As Indiana Rep. Charlie Brown sees it, a new plan to enroll eligible inmates in Medicaid has the chance to be a win-win for his state and its taxpayers: Reduce recidivism by giving more people the health services they need, and cut long-term costs in the criminal justice system.
Signed into law earlier this year, HB 1269 (of which Brown was a co-sponsor) received overwhelming legislative approval, and it is part of a broader trend that has states looking for new ways to improve outcomes for state and local inmates, who have disproportionately high rates of mental illness and substance abuse.

Earlier this year, an unexpected outbreak of HIV in southern Indiana triggered a high-profile emergency response while demonstrating the dangerous link between substance abuse and certain infectious diseases. This FREE eCademy webcast explores lessons from Indiana's experience, policy options and the latest research on effective treatment of substance abuse.

The White House heroin response strategy announced today, with a price tag of $13.4 million, will emphasize treatment as well as public safety. According to Reuters, Michael Botticelli, Director of National Drug Control Policy, said the new plan will address the heroin and painkiller epidemics as both "a public health and a public safety issue."

CSG’s webcast, “Needle-Borne Disease and Substance Abuse,” Tuesday, Aug. 18 at 2 p.m. EDT, will provide timely context and background on the issues the White House program strives to address. The surge of prescription opioid abuse in southern Indiana precipitated an HIV epidemic in that state earlier this year.

Earlier this year, Indiana experienced an outbreak of HIV in one small rural community that was traced back to needle-sharing among individuals using and abusing prescription drugs. Public health experts warn that other communities could encounter outbreaks of HIV and hepatitis C given the rampant abuse of prescription drugs and heroin. 

CSG's FREE eCademy webcast at 2 p.m. on Aug. 18  will explore lessons from Indiana's experience, policy options that states might pursue and the latest research on effective treatment of substance abuse.

State legislators attending the fourth annual CSG Medicaid Policy Academy June 17-19, in Washington, D.C., learned how critical Medicaid funding can be to services for vulnerable persons. Dr. Jeffery Brenner, a 2013 winner of a MacArthur Foundation genius award, challenged the group to rationalize the health care system. He described how his project in Camden, N.J. has reduced costs and improved care for patients suffering from a complex set of chronic diseases. Health care workers visit patients in their residences and seek to evaluate not just medical needs but social and emotional needs as well. 

CSG Midwest
Last summer, lawmakers in the Illinois House declared a “heroin emergency” in the state. This year, the legislature overwhelmingly approved a comprehensive plan (HB 1) to deal with it. According to The State Journal-Register (Springfield), the state's new fight against drug abuse will cost between $25 million and $58 million.

Long-term care and supports were the focus of the 2015 CSG Medicaid Policy Academy, held in Washington, D.C., June 17-19, 2015. The 30 registered CSG members came from 19 states. Home states are marked in purple in the map below. Over the four years CSG has convened the Medicaid Policy Academy, legislators from 42 states have participated. 

The program concluded with a plenary session featuring Dr. Jeffrey Brenner, medical director of the Urban Health Institute at the Cooper University Healthcare as well as the founder and executive director of Camden (N.J.)  Coalition of Healthcare Providers. In 2013, Dr. Brenner was named a MacArthur Fellow for his work on addressing the health care needs of the chronically ill in impoverished neighborhoods. 

I learned a few things last week when I was visiting with Indiana Rep. Ed Clere, one of the new co-chairs of CSG’s Health Public Policy Committee.

  • That week, the state announced the 100,000th person enrolled in the Medicaid expansion waiver, called HIP 2.0 in Indiana, after the program opened less than a month before. Indiana had three Medicaid managed care organizations already engaged in the state and the state Medicaid office and the
  • ...

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.

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