When President Obama signed the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 into law in April, he helped ensure more than 1 million children will continue to have health insurance. The Children’s Health Insurance Program—commonly known as CHIP—covers children from families that earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, yet do not earn enough to qualify for federal health insurance subsidies. In 2013, 8.1 million children were enrolled in CHIP, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The program has cut in half the rate of uninsured children, going from 14 percent in 1997 to 7 percent in 2012. CHIP originally had been set to expire this year due to the passage of the Affordable Care Act. When the U.S. Supreme Court made Medicaid expansion voluntary, states that chose not to expand their programs would have run into problems with insurance being lost for children whose families make too much to qualify for Medicaid should CHIP have expired.

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Breast milk contains important nutrients, immune-system antibodies and growth factors that all contribute to a baby’s health, particularly babies who are vulnerable because they are premature or underweight. But a number of circumstances — including maternal illness, death, surgery, use of drugs or medications, and certain chronic conditions — can prevent a mother from being able to breastfeed.

One potential alternative for some babies, then, is the use of human donor milk. Indiana, Iowa, Michigan and Ohio are among the states with nonprofit human-milk banks that have been certified by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America. (The association’s certification standards were established with input from the federal government and the blood and tissue industries.)

This act revises the education and orientation requirements for birth centers and their families to incorporate safe sleep practices and causes of Sudden Unexpected Infant Death. It also makes legislative findings with respect to the sudden unexpected death of an infant under a specified age, as well as defines the term “Sudden Unexpected Infant Death”, and includes other provisions relating to training requirements for first responders and health professionals.

The bad news is a lot of people across the country can’t get access to appropriate and timely dental care. The good news is state policymakers can help improve the situation.
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The number of Midwestern states requiring insurers to cover the diagnosis and treatment of autism continued to rise in 2014, as the result of legislative measures in Nebraska and Kansas that passed with overwhelming support. The advocacy organization Autism Speaks now lists Ohio, North Dakota and South Dakota as the only states in the region that have not adopted autism insurance reform.

On June 20-22, 45 CSG members gathered in Washington, D.C. for the second annual Medicaid Policy Academy to learn more about Medicaid and how states can improve health outcomes for enrollees and, at the same time, run a more cost efficient program. Attendees had been nominated for attendance by health committee chairs in their home states as "rising stars" who were either new to positions of leadership on Medicaid policy or were likely to soon assume these positions.

When Molina Healthcare of Michigan noticed the poor immunization rates in the state’s children, it took action. The company, a leading health care provider for financially vulnerable families, launched “Shots for Shorties” to improve the rates of immunization among African-American children, primarily those from low-income families. The program offers a variety of necessary vaccinations, programs and educational materials full of strategies to increase immunization rates for African-Americans. 

Four million infants are screened at birth each year and approximately 12,500 are diagnosed with a condition for which prompt initiation of treatment can prevent devel­opmental delays or permanent disability. The number of tests performed has increased in recent years and now tests for 31 core conditions are recommended, but not all states require the same tests. Hearing tests are relatively new – 34 states require them, 10 states do not, and six states have certain exemptions for hearing screening depending on the size of the hospital or birthing center. The newest test – pulse oximetry to screen for certain heart defects – has been adopted in nine states so far. 

Seventeen states no longer fund circumcisions through Medicaid, in an effort to save money in cash-strapped budgets, while the city of San Francisco attempts to ban the procedure on ethical grounds.  

This Act limits the liability of school districts for injuries suffered by youth who participate in youth programs on school property. The Act directs school districts to work with the state interscholastic activities association to develop guidelines and inform coaches, athletes, and parents about the dangers of concussions and head injuries. The bill requires youth athletes and their parents or guardians sign a concussion and head injury information sheet for the athlete to be eligible to play in a program using school facilities.

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