Invitational Health Seminar for Newer Legislators

April 26-28, 2019 | Cambridge, Mass.


Meeting Objectives:
  • Increase knowledge about state roles in health.
  • Learn about strategies and policy options to improve people’s health and health systems.
  • Network with state legislators from other states who have an interest in health.
  • Share your concerns, interests, and health policy successes in your own state.


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Friday, April 26

2:15-2:30 p.m.


2:30-3:10 p.m.

Welcome and Overview - Powerpoint Presentation | PDF file-25 pages


  • Kate Blackman, NCSL
  • Tahra Johnson, NCSL
  • Barbara Boner, director, State Government Affairs, Novartis
3:10-3:35 p.m.

Participant and Staff Introductions

3:45 p.m.

Meet in Front Lobby to walk to Novartis Facility

4-5:30 p.m.

Tour at Novartis Facility

  • Jay Bradner, president, Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research (NIBR)
6-8 p.m. Dinner Reception at Le Meridien Hotel
Saturday, April 27
7:30-8:30 a.m. Breakfast
8:30-10:15 a.m.

Medicaid: Overview and Innovations - Powerpoint Presentation | PDF file-64 pages
Medicaid accounts for about 20 percent of the average state’s budget. This session will provide an overview of the program, potential forthcoming changes and state efforts to make it more efficient and effective.

Moderator: Emily Blanford, NCSL


  • Haley Nicholson, NCSL
  • Emily Blanford, NCSL
10:30 a.m.-Noon

Health Insurance Issues and Health Reforms

State governments play a primary role in regulating insurance plans, whether or not they’ve operated the marketplace exchanges within their states. This session will provide an overview and discussion of state roles in health plan regulation, exchanges and coverage innovations.

Moderator: Kate Blackman, NCSL


Noon-1:30 p.m. Lunch and Physical Activity Break
1:30-2:30 p.m.

Access to Health Care Services - Powerpoint Presentation | PDF file-22 pages

States continue to address health access issues, including providing services in rural areas, implementing telehealth, exploring emerging providers and addressing workforce shortage issues. This session highlights state strategies to improve access to health care services. Attendees will have an opportunity to discuss selected topics with experts and each other.

Moderator: Caroline Vesey, NCSL


  • Sydne Enlund, NCSL
  • Margaret Wile, NCSL
2:45-4:15 p.m.

Behavioral Health: Substance Use Disorders and Mental Health
Participants will learn about behavioral health, which includes both Substance Use Disorders (SUD) and Severe Mental Illness (SMI). This session will focus on state policy options and trends to address the opioid crisis and mental health, as well as policies that affect both mental health and substance misuse. There will be time during this session for legislators to ask questions and to share what their states are doing on the opioid crisis and mental health policy.

Moderator: Kate Blackman, NCSL


4:15-4:30 p.m.

Bringing It Together
Participants will share questions, comments and areas of interest to discuss on Sunday.

Moderator: Tahra Johnson, NCSL

sunday, april 28
7:30-8:30 a.m.


8:30-10 a.m.

Prescription Drugs

Prescriptions drugs provide life-saving treatments and help control diseases and debilitating conditions. They also present legislators with challenges, including affording some of the new “miracle drugs” for Medicaid patients and state employees. This session will highlight a range of prescription drug issues.

Moderator: Kate Blackman, NCSL

10:15-11:30 a.m.

Maternal and Child Health - Powerpoint Presentation | PDF file-50 pages

States can play a role in keeping moms, babies and children healthy. Access to services around prenatal care, newborn screening, well child visits and school-based health services are all ways states can improve health for the maternal and child health population. Participants will learn about legislative trends and policy options to improve health for this population.
Moderator: Tahra Johnson, NCSL

Haley Nicholson, NCSL
Amber Bellazaire, NCSL
Erik Skinner, NCSL

11:30-12:30 p.m.

Final Remarks, Next Steps and Lunch