State Action Newsletters

Health Reform: State Action Newsletters

News update


Recent editions covered Medicaid expansion, exchanges and new federal rules, among other topics, View the newsletter and all archive editions, 2011-Jan. 2014.

View the new "Health Link" for this current month, below >>






For November 2014, the Health Program offers monthly distribution of "Health & Human Services Link," an easy to use email newsletter, available to any member on request.

Welcome to NCSL Health & Human Services Link, a monthly email featuring NCSL’s new health-related information resources.

State Quarantine and Isolation Statutes
Public health quarantine and isolation are legal authorities that may be, but rarely are, exercised by states to prevent the spread of communicable diseases. Rules vary from state to state and have drawn increased attention as health care workers return to the U.S. from providing treatment to Ebola patients in West Africa.  Isolation separates sick people who are confirmed to have a contagious disease from people who are not sick. Quarantine may be used to restrict the movement of well people who may have been exposed to a communicable disease until it can be determined if they are ill or not. This NCSL web page summarizes state and territorial statutes that provide authority for isolation and quarantine.

Restrictions on Use of Public Assistance Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) Cards
At least 37 states issue Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) cash benefits through electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards and all states issue Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) formerly known as food stamps, through EBT cards. In 2012, the federal government required that states prohibit EBT card use in liquor stores, gaming or gambling establishments or adult entertainment venues or they could face financial penalties. View this table to see the states that have passed laws placing restrictions or prohibitions on the use of the EBT cards.

Treating Hepatitis C
The hepatitis C virus (HCV), a leading cause of liver disease—including liver cancers and failure—affects between 3.2 million and 5.2 million Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Chronic hepatitis C infections currently incur about $6.5 billion annually in medical costs nationwide, according to the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. The hepatitis C virus also is responsible for at least 17,000 U.S. deaths each year. A new LegisBrief describes new treatments and policy considerations for policymakers.

Reducing State Employee Health Insurance Costs
In 2013, states and their employees spent $30.7 billion on health insurance premiums for 2.7 million active state employees and their families, a slight increase over spending from the previous two years. States paid $25.1 billion of this total. Compared to employees covered by private employers, state workers tend to be older, more likely to be female (who use health care services more often) and have a higher incidence of chronic disease, all of which contributes to higher premiums. States, on the other hand, have more purchasing power than most private sector employers, which can help lower premiums. Since they often are one of the largest employers, states can have significant leverage in setting rates and contracting with providers and managed care organizations. A new LegisBrief illustrates that state employees also tend to have a longer tenure than their private employee counterparts, which can provide the state more return on investment for health improvement, wellness and disease management initiatives.

New Children’s Health Resources
Three new briefs highlight important children’s health policies and issues, including the role of health reform on children’s coverage, and key state strategies for improving children’s health.

Dual Language Learners: The Latest Social and Emotional Research
On Sept. 30, Tamara Halle, co-director for early childhood development and senior research scientist at Child Trends, made a webinar presentation to NCSL’s  Early Learning Fellows. The webinar provided participants with a better understanding of who are dual language learners, what their social and emotional needs are, as well as policy and practice implications. View the full webinar, the PowerPoint Presentation or simply read a recent blog post highlighting some of the key points of the webinar.

Open Enrollment in Health Exchanges Begins Again Nov. 15
Second year enrollments begin Nov. 15 and run through mid-February, a shorter period than last year. Aside from hoping that the marketplaces operate more smoothly this year, find out what other enrollment issues are percolating in NCSL’s blog.

Insurers offering health policies on exchanges for 2015
Data by state are included in the NCSL state report for those states with published plans. An NCSL Blog post summarizes advance reports, and includes a new 50-state map of insurer changes.

All Hands on Deck: States, Feds Work to Reduce Prescription Drug Overdoses
States are on the front line of the nation’s prescription drug overdose epidemic, according to Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). NCSL’s blog.

NCSL Web Resources

NCSL’s Health Page. NCSL maintains hundreds of topical health web pages, from A to Z. Check out our resources on the following major topics:

Cost and Quality / Diseases and Conditions / Federal Health Issues / Health Insurance / Medicaid and CHIP / Pharmaceuticals / Population Groups / Providers and Facilities / Health Reform / Public Health and Prevention

For more information about these and other issues, e-mail us at

NCSL’s Federal Health Reform: State Actions Newsletter highlighted state activities related to the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA).  It was published every two weeks and distributed at no charge to NCSL members involved or interested in health policy.  There are 69 archive editions available in an easy-to-use index of individual articles. Bi-weekly distribution has been suspended as of January 17, 2014, and replaced by Health Link, above.

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