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
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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. 

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 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...

In contrast to broad, comprehensive laws authorizing the general use of marijuana for medical purposes, several states have recently enacted laws authorizing the limited use of “Low THC-High CBD” marijuana products to treat specific illnesses or symptoms. The laws commonly (1) use a very specific and limited definition of the authorized marijuana products; (2) limit the types of illnesses and symptoms subject to treatment at the direction of a physician; (3) limit the approved distributors of the marijuana product; (4) create a specific legal defense to criminal prosecution for the use of the sanctioned marijuana products; and (5) require patients or physicians to register with a particular state entity or obtain an identification/registration card prior to obtaining the marijuana product. Some of the laws were created as pilot study programs or clinical trials, while others are general authorizations for the limited use of certain marijuana products to treat specific illnesses and symptoms.

State and territorial attorneys general have made it a priority to combat the epidemic of prescription opioid abuse and to protect military service members from predatory lenders. Their efforts include law enforcement operations, state drug monitoring programs and education campaigns. 

Recent voter initiatives in Colorado and Washington legalizing the use of recreational marijuana have amplified the debate and the uncertain social and legal ramifications. The Future of Western Legislatures Forum featured industry perspectives and insights from officials about how their states are implementing these initiatives. The session also focused on state medical marijuana laws, including state program comparisons and challenges.

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