Public Health

Clean needles save lives. In some states, they might not be legal.

In Pennsylvania, where 5,158 people died from a drug overdose in 2022, the state’s drug paraphernalia law stands in the way of harm reduction programs that distribute sterile syringes.

San Francisco tries tough love by tying welfare to drug rehab

Starting in January 2025, public assistance recipients who screen positive for addiction on a 10-question drug abuse test will be referred to treatment. Those who refuse or fail to show up for treatment will lose their benefits.

Amid a housing crisis, hospitals offer a dose of relief

The housing crisis may be too big for state and local governments to overcome. That’s why hospitals are stepping in to remedy housing and health care gaps.

What's the poop? Wastewater data predicts overdoses

Analyzing wastewater samples can help public health workers paint a reliable picture of a community’s rapidly evolving drug use to to get ahead of overdoses.

Paid sick leave sticks after many pandemic protections vanish

Paid sick leave protects both the community's public health and the economic security of low-wage workers.

Connect with state & local government leaders

FCC poised to require calls to the 988 suicide hotline be geolocated

Routing calls based on location versus a person’s area code is already standard for calls coming into 911. Elected officials and mental health advocates want 988 calls to be geolocated as well. A new FCC proposal would do that.

Montana could be a model as more GOP states weigh Medicaid work requirements

The state has a program that can help Medicaid enrollees get job training, career guidance.

Data for dementia: State’s brain health registry helps prep for an aging population

The Virginia Memory Project will catalog dementia cases and caregiving needs to inform policy and programming for aging adults.

State, local govs crack down on menthol cigarettes by pumping prices up

Setting minimum retail prices and increasing taxes can help officials address public health concerns surrounding menthol cigarettes.

AC, power banks, mini fridges: State equips Medicaid patients for climate change

Oregon wants to be proactive and pay for equipment that will help an estimated 200,000 residents manage their health at home before extreme weather or climate-related disaster hits.

A water crisis in Mississippi turns into a fight against privatization

Thanks to a federal judge, residents of Jackson will have a say in how the city resolves its yearslong water crisis.

State legislators are taking the maternal mortality crisis into their own hands

State lawmakers—many of whom are women—are establishing new committees to study and investigate investigating pregnancy-related deaths, their causes and prevention.

First state-regulated overdose prevention center preps for opening

Rhode Island is using part of its opioid settlement money to expand harm reduction strategies and demonstrate how the center can impact drug use, crime and recovery.

Holdout states consider expanding Medicaid—with work requirements

The prospect of a second Trump administration has renewed interest in the idea.

To stop fentanyl deaths in Philadelphia, knocking on doors and handing out overdose kits

City officials hope that this proactive approach will normalize naloxone as an everyday item in the medicine cabinet, and prevent people from dying of overdoses, especially Black residents.

Lawmakers hope to use this emerging climate science to charge oil companies for disasters

Under their proposals, state agencies would use computer models to tally up the damages caused by climate change and identify the companies responsible. Then, they would send each company a bill for its portion of the destruction.

How states can help formerly incarcerated individuals stay sober

A Medicaid waiver can help state corrections facilities finance reentry services aimed at keeping previously incarcerated individuals in recovery and curbing the opioid crisis.

Why a lawsuit may be state and local governments’ best chance to cut insulin prices

The skyrocketing cost of insulin hits employee health plans and limits governments’ ability to finance other projects, such as infrastructure improvements. The multidistrict litigation aims to fix that.

Arkansas led the nation in measuring obesity in kids. Did it help?

In 2003, Arkansas became the first state to send home "fat letters" or BMI reports about all students as part of a broader anti-obesity initiative. At least 23 states followed Arkansas’ lead. Some have since scaled back their efforts.

EPA issues first-ever drinking water standards for ‘forever chemicals’

The Biden administration also announced nearly $1 billion in newly available funding to help public water utilities implement PFAS testing and treatment.