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.

All but two states maintained or improved eligibility rules for their Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program, commonly known as CHIP, in 2010.These programs continued to be critical to providing insurance coverage for children and families that otherwise would be uninsured. The median state income limit for children’s coverage is now above 200 percent of the FPL, and pregnant women are eligible up to a median of 185% FPL. However, the median income limit for adult coverage is significantly below the higher eligibility level of 133% FPL that will be implemented under health reform in 2014.

This Act requires school districts ensure coaches get annual training to recognize when players exhibit concussion symptoms and how to seek proper medical treatment for players who exhibit such symptoms. The bill prohibits coaches from allowing players to practice or play in a game if the player exhibits concussion symptoms or has been diagnosed as having had a concussion until the player is cleared to play by a health care professional.

This Act directs the state Medicaid Program and Children‘s Health Insurance Program to improve discharge and follow-up care for infants born in hospitals and who are born earlier than thirty-seven weeks gestational age. The Act directs the state Medicaid Program and the Children's Health Insurance Program to use guidance from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' Neonatal Outcomes Improvement Project to implement programs to improve such processes. The goal is to ensure standardized and coordinated processes are followed when such infants leave the hospital.