Debra Miller

Author Articles

"Based on observational, cohort and case-control studies there is strong scientific consensus that Zika virus is a cause of GBS [Guillain-Barre syndrome], microcephaly and other neurological disorders," the World Health Organization said in a Situation Report dated March 31, 2016. 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced yesterday it will require “black box” warnings on all immediate-release opioid pain medications. The target of the warning is prescribers.

Last week, the U.S. Senate passed a drug abuse prevention and treatment bill 94-1. The New York Times reported it is the biggest bill on the topic since 2008, when Congress mandated insurance coverage for addiction treatment.

The overwhelming bi-partisan support for the bill underlined the growing attention to the very real increase in overdose deaths due to prescription drug abuse and heroin use. Governors talked with President Obama about the same topic during the National Governors’ Association meeting in February. In a CSG analysis of 2016 governors' state of the state addresses, substance abuse and drug overdoses figured prominantly as key themes. 

A February 2016 CSG Capitol Research Brief provides the latest data on overdose deaths by state. Fourteen states had a statistically significant increase in overdose deaths from prescription drug abuse and heroin use from 2013 to 2014, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The Zika virus in Central and South America and the Caribbean seems to be connected to an astoundingly high number of babies in Brazil being born with microcephaly, a congenital brain defect that causes under development of head and brain size. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a travel warning for 22 locations as of Jan. 22, 2016. The CDC especially recommends that pregnant women or women trying to become pregnant reconsider travel. All known cases of Zika in the U.S. have been linked to travel,...

A new study published in the British health journal Lancet presents the strongest case to date that the Zika virus is linked to Guillain-Barré syndrome, which causes temporary paralysis. The study retrospectively looked at 42 cases of Guillain-Barré in French Polynesia that occurred between October 2013 and April 2014, the same time that French Polynesia experienced the largest Zika virus outbreak ever described at that time. While the research could not conclude that Zika was the cause of the Guillain-Barré cases, it strongly links the two. 

Despite pushing the federal government to provide 100 percent of the cost for health care for American Indians, what South Dakota Gov. Daugaard has characterized as a longstanding treaty obligation, on Feb. 29 Daugaard ruled out Medicaid expansion during this legislative session.

A new poll finds that 43 percent of Americans are worried that there will be a large number of Zika cases this year. Fewer (28 percent) worry that they or a family member will become infected, according to the Feb. 25 poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

A new federal law allows persons with disabilities to save for their futures through tax-advantaged  savings accounts set up by states. These accounts -- called ABLE -- are much like 529 college savings plan. 

On February 23, Nebraska Treasurer Don Stenburg announced plans to make his state’s plan available nationwide.

Last week, two states rejected Medicaid expansion, another is continuing negotiations with Washington and one is studying whether and how to continue expansion already in place and reduce the numbers of people eligible. Currently 31 states and the District of Columbia have expanded income eligibility for Medicaid as provided for by the Affordable Care Act. Sixteen states remain firmly in the non-expansion column.

On Dec. 19, 2014, President Obama signed into law the Stephen Beck Jr. Achieving a Better Life Experience, or ABLE, Act, that allows persons with disabilities to save for their futures through tax-advantaged savings accounts. The act gives qualified Americans with disabilities the chance to save money and meet the added expenses of living with a disability without jeopardizing their eligibility for important supports such as Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, and Medicaid.

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