Capitol Research

While interstate compacts are not new to state policymakers, the growth and evolution of compacts represents a dynamic shift in the ability of states to work together on an interstate basis. Originally signed between two states to resolve issues such as border disputes, modern compacts have evolved into a tool that allows state legislators and executive branch officials to resolve a wide range of policy challenges.

As legislatures and governors finalized state budgets earlier this year, 24 states made the bet that Congress would extend enhanced Medicaid match rates from ARRA and included that assumption in their budgets. In August 2010, Congress passed legislation including additional Medicaid assistance through enhanced FMAP rates through the end of FY 2011 - or June 2011 - but provided less aid to states than many had anticipated.

Health educators are providing sexual health information to individuals who send questions via text messages and websites. These innovative approaches are effective in reaching teens through the media they use most, enable education on how to prevent sexually transmitted infections and how to get tested, overcome limited opportunities for face-to-face education, and stretch the limited resources for public health programs. 

With the recent federal policy change allowing use of federal funds for needle exchange programs, there is renewed focus on cost-effective public health syringe services programs to prevent HIV and hepatitis C infections and to reduce disparities. State law modifications to allow syringe services programs are described.

Ten state legislatures have formed caucuses to educate legislators about  mental health policy issues.  Through these caucuses legislators and mental health champions work together on a variety of state mental health issues, such as funding, coverage and access and criminal justice.