Capitol Research

The U.S. ranked behind 29 other nations in infant mortality in 2005. Experts believe the poor U.S. ranking is due in large part to disparities that continue to exist among various racial and ethnic groups, especially African-Americans. African-American babies are more than twice as likely to die in their first year as white babies. Low birth-weight and pre-term births are risk factors for infant mortality, but there is little consensus about why babies are born too soon or too small, or why racial and ethnic disparities persist.

The majority of state Medicaid programs are testing models of coordinated medical care to improve quality and reduce costs, particularly for patients with multiple chronic illnesses.  Patient-centered medical homes are similar to managed care approaches and health maintenance organizations, but ask providers to focus on improving care rather than managing costs. Such medical homes focus on improving the relationship between doctors and patients, aim to put the patient at the center of the care system, and provide coordinated and integrated care over time and across care settings. Descriptions of eleven states’ pilot programs or authorizing legislation are included.

The United States has vast offshore wind power potential.  Yet despite the potential to produce clean, cost-effective electricity, huge challenges remain to commercial deployment.  However, some progress is already being made toward developing an offshore wind power industry.

While the election, the economy and other factors made it a difficult year to raise new state revenues for transportation, 2010 saw states turning to bonding as a key financing strategy. Interest in public-private partnerships remained high. States also explored alternative finance mechanisms and revenue streams. But one state's regional approach to transportation funding could be what 2010 is ultimately remembered for.

Quitting tobacco use improves individuals’ health, but state governments also benefit. State Medicaid programs pay an average $607 million per year in tobacco-related health care costs, and employees who quit using tobacco take fewer sick days and have lower health care costs. For every dollar states spend on smoking cessation, returns to the state average $1.26 in avoided productivity losses, direct medical expenditures and premature deaths. The American Lung Association and the Partnership for Prevention analysis of insurance coverage for smoking cessation treatment is summarized, including state by state listing of coverage in state Medicaid and state employee plans for smoking cessation, as well as statewide workplace smoking bans.