NCSL podcasts connect you with state legislatures, offering insights from legislative leaders and staff, astute political observers and public policy experts from across the nation. Download or stream our collection today.

Health

15

The crushing strain of caring for patients the last year and half of pandemic has taken a toll on health care workers. Legislatures play an important role in this area by creating laws for licensure and regulation.

On the podcast to discuss the workforce and how to help health care workers cope with the current challenges is Dr. Luis Padilla, the associate administrator for health workforce at the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). Padilla also serves as director of the National Health Service Corps.

Padilla discusses how HRSA supports states in strengthening the workforce. He also talked about the growing role of telehealth and the important role states have in regulating scope of practice rules.

The other guest is Sydne Enlund from NCSL. Enlund tracks of scope of practice laws across the country and maintains a website on the topic with interactive maps dealing with nurse practitioners, physician assistants, pharmacists and more. She discusses the role legislatures have played in modifying regulations for workers during the pandemic.

Dr Luis Padilla, HRSASydne Enlund, NCSL

 

 

 

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08

One of the most promising areas of cancer treatment involves identifying the cancer a person has and using therapies targeted at just that cancer. This field of precision medicine or targeted medicine is not well understood by most lawmakers or the general public.

On the podcast to discuss this emerging field is Dr. Carl Morrison, a molecular biologist and pathologist who is the senior vice president of Scientific Development and Integrative Medicine at the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in Buffalo, N.Y. He is one of the nation’s leading researchers in the field.

Our second guest is Karmen Hanson, a policy expert at NCSL. She explains why these new treatments are important for legislators to understand, both so they can aid their constituents and because of the costs to the health care system.

Dr. Carl MorrisonKarmen Hanson, NCSL

 

 

 

 

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07

There is an increasing focus at the state and federal level on policies to require greater cost transparency in health care. While there’s debate about how effective these policies are, the goal is to allow comparison shopping on the part of consumers and employers with the aim of controlling the increasing cost of health care.

The guest on the podcast is an expert in the area of health data and analytics. Niall Brennan is the president and CEO of the Health Care Cost Institute, a nonprofit that focuses on data to analyze key issues affecting the U.S. health care system. Brennan previously was chief data officer for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Brennan discusses the pros and cons of price transparency, examples of where it’s been effective and his skepticism about the individual consumer’s use of the information. He also shares some surprising examples of price variation for the same medical procedure in the same area—even in the same hospital group. 

Niall Brennan, Health Care Cost Institute

 

 

 

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08

HIV/AIDS has killed about 700,000 people in the U.S. since it first emerged more than 40 years ago. But deaths have dropped dramatically since the mid-‘90s as new treatments have beome available. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 2019 launched the Ending the HIV Epidemic Initiative that aims to eliminate the disease in this country.

On this podcast, we talk with Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He discusses the range of treatments available to fight HIV/AIDS, strategies to prevent spread of the disease and the role state policymakers can play in helping eradicate the disease.

Our other guest if Charlie Severance-Medaris, a policy expert at NCSL. Charlie explains the steps states are taking to help people to get access to critical medications, changes in laws that have criminalized some behaviors for people with HIV/AIDS, and other efforts at the state level to end the epidemic.

Dr Jonathan Mermin, CDCCharlie Severance-Medaris, NCSL

 

 

 

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18

Every state in the country is involved in distributing and administering the two COVID-19 vaccines now approved for use by the US. Food and Drug Administration. Each state is working with a plan that it created in consultation with the federal government.

On this podcast we discuss how those plans were created, how they’ve had to change as the pandemic has progressed and what lies ahead.

Our guests are Hemi Tewarson, an expert in state plans to distribute the COVID-19 vaccines. She is a visiting senior policy fellow at the Margolis Center for Health policy at Duke University. As a health policy expert, she has studied the state vaccine plans and discusses how those are working, changes in federal guidance and when everyone will have access to the vaccine.

Our other guest is Tahra Johnson, a policy expert at NCSL. Tahra discusses state legislative action related to vaccine plans and how legislators can get involved in the planning process.

Hemi TewarsonTahra Johnson

 

 

 

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11

A new category of gene therapies is offering life-changing treatments to people with some forms of cancer and other rare disorders. These revolutionary treatments, however, come with a large price tag, sometimes exceeding millions of dollars for a single patient. Often, these costs fall on state Medicaid systems.

On this podcast we discuss how states are dealing with this challenge. One of our guests is Anne Winter, a Medicaid strategist with the national research and consulting firm Health Management Associates. Winter, who has particular expertise in pharmacy benefit management, discusses some of the strategies state are employing.

Our other guest is Colleen Becker, a policy expert at NCSL, who lays out the scope of the challenge facing states.

Colleen Becker, NCSLAnne Winter, Health Management Associates

 

 

 

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07

An estimated 700 women will die  from pregnancy-related complications in the U.S. this year, and most of those deaths are preventable. In addition, Black and Indigenous women are two to three times more likely to die of pregnancy related issues than White women.

On this podcast, the focus is on maternal mortality. I talk with Dr. Wanda Barfield, the director of the Division of Reproductive Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She  discusses efforts by the CDC to reduce the number of deaths, including sharing strategies with state legislators as they try to craft solutions that work best in their states.

My second guest is Khanh Nguyen, a policy expert at NCSL who tracks legislation related to maternal mortality. She shares examples of specific legislation and approaches employed by states, including a focus on helping Black and Indigenous women.

Dr. Wanda Barfield, CDCKhanh Nguyen, NCSL

 

 

 

 

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14

Today’s podcast focuses on childhood vaccinations and a troubling drop in the rate of routine immunizations for children in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our first guest is Dr. Melinda Wharton, the director of the Immunization Services Division at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr. Wharton, one of the nation’s preeminent experts on vaccine policy, discusses the reasons behind the drop, the steps the CDC is taking to help states bolster the immunization rate, the importance of keeping children on a vaccine schedule and what state lawmakers can do to help. She also reminds us that adults need vaccines as well as we enter flu season.

My other guest is Erik Skinner, an NCSL policy associate who tracks legislation related to vaccines. He offers a perspective on how state legislatures acted on vaccine policy.

Dr. Melinda Wharton, CDCErik Skinner, NCSL

 

 

 

 

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12

For the first time, around 2040, there will be more older adults than children. By 2060, the U.S. Census Bureau says, nearly 1 in 4 Americans will be 65 years and older. And in that same year, the number of people 85 years and older will triple and the country will add a half million centenarians. We decided to explore what “Living to 100” means for state policymakers across the country.

Later in the program, we’ll talk with Karen Brown, who is an original and current member—and a former chair—of the Colorado Strategic Action Planning Group on Aging. The group was formed by the Colorado General Assembly since the state has one of the fastest growing senior populations.

Our guests are:

  • James Firman, president and CEO of the National Council on Aging.
  • Karen Brown, a member and former chair of Colorado’s Strategic Action Planning Group on Aging and CEO of iAging.

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25

Medicaid is a state-federal health insurance program designed to provide relief for the less fortunate, including low-income people, the elderly and people with disabilities. The program is a significant part of state budgets. State expenditures on Medicaid exceeded $600 billion in 2018, with about 1 in 5 Americans receiving coverage. The federal government accounts for about 60 percent of this financing with the rest coming from state budgets.

All 50 states participate in the Medicaid program. But, as we learn in this episode, states have flexibility in how to determine spending, eligibility and covered services. We learn how some states are looking to reduce their Medicaid spending and how others are moving to expand their services. We’ll also explore the relationship with the program and the Affordable Care Act, as well how mental health, behavioral health and living conditions are influencing policymakers’ decisions on how to appropriate funding.

To walk us through the various issues is Emily Blanford, a program principal in NCSL’s health program, specializing in Medicaid policy. 

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