Public Health

Vending machines expand scope, impact of public health initiatives

The self-serve kiosks distribute health and hygiene products for free, which experts say improves accessibility to essential services and helps an increasingly pinched public health workforce.

More places install drop-off boxes for surrendered babies. Critics say they’re a gimmick.

States began passing so-called safe haven laws more than two decades ago. But critics argue that however well-intended, baby boxes don't address the real problems facing parents and newborns.

How one state has mapped out its opioid recovery plans

The Garden State is pouring more than $95 million of its opioid settlement money into harm reduction, treatment and housing as it starts to mitigate substance use disorders.

Policies to expand access to psychedelics could be ‘short-sighted’

While research shows psychedelics’ potential to mitigate the effects of substance use disorders, observers warn states might be better off waiting for federal guidance before legalizing their use and possession.

Dead smoke alarms, moldy rooms, empty first aid kits: Farmworkers endure unsafe and substandard housing across US

The federal government requires all states to inspect housing for temporary agriculture workers annually, but only some states inspect known migrant labor camps.

California prison drug overdoses surge again after early treatment success

Drug overdose deaths in California state prisons rebounded to near record levels last year, a big setback for corrections officials who thought they were on the right track with medication-assisted treatment efforts. Officials blame fentanyl.

Oregon's experiment in drug decriminalization failed. Advocates blame the state's political leadership.

Just over three years since Oregon voters passed Ballot Measure 110, elected officials want to repeal key elements, blaming the law for open drug use and soaring overdoses. But it’s their own hands-off approach that isn’t working, advocates say.

Halfway through ‘unwinding,’ Medicaid enrollment is down about 10 million

While many beneficiaries no longer qualify because their incomes rose, millions of people have been dropped from the rolls for procedural reasons like failing to respond to notices or return paperwork.

States’ prescription boards tackle high drug costs

At least 11 states are developing drug cost review boards to identify and address costs of expensive medications.

Prevention pays off: Wellness programs help states care for an aging population

There are ways to stave off the health and financial challenges that come with an older population, experts say.

Surge in syphilis cases leads some providers to ration penicillin

Injectable penicillin is the go-to treatment for syphilis and the only treatment considered safe for pregnant people with the disease. But as rates of syphilis increase across the U.S., a shortage of the injectable has prompted some public health agencies to ration it.

Social media declared a ‘public health hazard,’ as efforts to rein it in ramp up

New York City Mayor Eric Adams made the announcement last week, while Florida lawmakers advanced a bill banning accounts for anyone under 16 years of age.

To put a dent in opioid addiction, start with the corrections system

Pilot programs have offered incarcerated individuals medications for opioid use disorder, but now it’s time to start expanding those programs for long-term success, observers say.

One city’s effort to cancel $2B in residents’ medical debt

New York City joins a growing number of local governments looking to purchase and eliminate residents’ medical debt in a bid to improve communities’ health and economic outcomes.

Can wastewater alert schools about Covid spread?

COMMENTARY | While wastewater surveillance doesn't prevent all viral transmission, its role in understanding the extent of transmission could help officials ensure schools stay open during a public health emergency.

The cost of freeing drinking water from ‘forever chemicals’

The EPA is set to limit PFAS in drinking water to barely detectable levels. Can water utilities meet the standard?

San Antonio plans to tackle violence with a public health approach. Here’s what that looks like.

Several cities use the "beyond-policing" approach that aims to reduce gun-related violence, sexual assaults and other crimes against people.

How state and local agencies are working together to quell the opioid crisis

Leaders at every level of government underlined the importance of collaboration to effectively leverage funding to address the nationwide opioid epidemic during a recent National Association of Counties event.

How governments are tackling medical debt

Medical debt can stymie communities’ economic mobility as unpaid hospital bills chip away at public dollars. That’s why local governments are looking to forgive residents’ medical debt, which experts say can be especially helpful for rural areas.

Unwinding the public health emergency: Medicaid agencies should slow down to speed up

COMMENTARY | States that take the time to strategically adjust their staffing, processes and technology could ultimately speed up the Medicaid redetermination process.