One of the core focus areas of the NGA Center for Best Practices’ (NGA Center) Health Division is providing governors’ offices with policy advice and support on a wide range of public health priorities. As the chief executive officers of their states, governors oversee public health departments and initiatives across multiple agencies aimed at improving health at the population level. The NGA Center’s Health Division supports governors on a variety of public health topics including maternal and child health and prescription drug abuse, in addition to providing a range of technical assistance on other issues of importance to the nation’s governors. In addition, NGA is working to bring public health leaders into statewide transformation efforts as well as to build financial linkages to support public health resources through transformation efforts.
Maternal and Child Health
Effective, evidence-based programs designed to improve the health of mothers and children from before pregnancy through adolescence are critical to ensuring the health and productivity of the next generation. The NGA Center for Best Practices provides ongoing assistance to states to help them implement those policies via the diverse set of state agencies that provide coverage and care to mothers and children.
Return on Investment and Prevention
Evidence has demonstrated that a number of public health interventions have the potential to create cost savings for states that exceed implementation costs within three to five years of their inception. The NGA Center for Best Practices has been preparing a series of issue briefs that outline those interventions and strategies that states can use to implement them.
Prescription Drug Abuse and Heroin Abuse
Nonmedical use and abuse of prescription drugs is a nationwide problem that has taken on increasing importance for governors in recent years as it has become more prevalent. The NGA Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) has worked with states to make strides in addressing this issue in a variety of ways including: passing legislation to crack down on pill mills; optimizing prescription drug monitoring programs; developing and implementing statewide treatment programs; implementing effective drug disposal strategies and enrolling providers in training programs to address prescribing practices. The NGA Center will continue its work in this area and expand to include helping states combat the increasing rates of Heroin abuse and overdose. Through the course of this work, the NGA Center will help states identify and implement strategies to respond effectively to the growing health crisis. Governors’ offices are uniquely positioned to coordinate interventions that cut across the health care and criminal justice systems to take a comprehensive approach to addressing opioid abuse.
States are actively working to integrate health interventions at multiple levels, ranging from clinical treatments to community-wide efforts, to improve health on a population level. A population level approach focuses on the health outcomes of a defined group of individuals within a geographic area. An example of a population health approach to asthma would be combining screening and medical management of asthma in individuals, home visits to reduce asthma attack triggers and new smokefree air ordinances and laws to help prevent the development and exacerbation of the condition across the community. The NGA Center for Best Practices has been developing a population health roadmap to help states to design and implement integrated population health strategies as part of their overall efforts to transform their health care systems.