Dec. 15, 2016
  • The use of marijuana, alcohol, and tobacco, and misuse of some prescription medications, declined among U.S. teens, according to a study released by the National Institutes of Health.
  • The National Association of Medicaid Directors released two new documents that outline key Medicaid issues and operational considerations for policymakers evaluating proposals to repeal and replace the ACA. 
  • Former ASTHO Executive Director Paul Jarris named Chief Medical Officer of March of Dimes.
  • The Washington Post published a letter to the editor by ASTHO Executive Director Michael Fraser in response to an article about CDC’s report on mortality in the United States.  
  • ASTHO issued a press release in response to Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy’s new report on e-cigarette use among youth. 
  • ASTHO President Jay Butler discussed the influence of geographic factors on population health in an article about the variance of disease rates across states.
  • ASTHO and the National Conference of State Legislatures launched a website to educate state policymakers about scope of practice issues related to nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and midlevel oral health providers.
  • The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration announced nearly $1 billion in new funding to combat the prescription opioid and heroin crisis. 
  • HHS awarded $40 million in funding to health centers in Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands to help combat the Zika virus.
  • The 2016 America’s Health Rankings Annual Report highlights long-term improvements and challenges in overall health across the country. 
The House of Representatives passed a continuing resolution (CR) on Dec. 8. The Senate approved the CR just in time to prevent a shutdown. This officially completed business of the 114th Congress. Passage will keep the federal government running through April 2017. The CR includes $500 million of the $1 billion appropriated for opioid prevention and treatment passed in the 21st Century Cures Act, and $170 million for lead efforts in Flint, Michigan. Overall, the CR includes a 0.19 percent across-the-board cut for all spending accounts to meet the Budget Control Act sequester cap for FY2017.
States are turning to smoke-free policies to protect against the unknown risks posed by e-cigarettes. Over the past six years, 29 states have enacted at least one law that restricts where e-cigarettes may be used. In addition, two governors have issued executive orders prohibiting e-cigarette use in certain areas. 
In 2015, more than a quarter of students in grades 6-12 and a third of young adults said they had tried e-cigarettes.
Harry Chen, MD, has been commissioner of the  Vermont Department of Health since 2011. On Jan. 5, 2017, he will step down, having decided not to seek reappointment. In addition to his role as commissioner, Chen served as acting secretary of Vermont’s Agency of Human Services. 

  • Top Questions on Zika: Simple Answers – ASTHO updated its guidance on the types of genetic material that should be used in testing for pregnant women exposed to Zika (Questions 205 and 302). 
  • E-Cigarette Resource Library – This searchable database provides resources for state public health leaders seeking information on e-cigarettes. 
  • Essentials for Childhood: Policy Guide – This policy guide explores strategies to increase economic support for working families, expand access to quality childcare and education, and promote flexible, family-friendly workplace policies.
  • Return on Investment (ROI) Resources – ASTHO, with support from CDC, developed a webinar, web-based tool, and instruction manual to calculate ROI associated with public health agency programs and business improvements.