Marissa Evans

Arizona Reinstates Children's Health Insurance Program
Federal funds cover all costs through September 2017

An estimated 30,000 low-income children are now eligible for benefits under Arizona’s health insurance program, after nearly six years of unstable coverage.  

Arizona’s program, KidsCare, will start enrolling children who live in households with income between 133 percent and 200 percent of the federal poverty level on Tuesday. Coverage would begin Sept. 1, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said in an announcement Monday.  

Lawmakers Look to Give Tribes More Say on Health Services
South Dakota Republican aims for overhaul of Indian Health Service

As lawmakers consider ways to overhaul the agency responsible for providing care for American Indians and Alaska Natives, one idea includes expanding tribal authority over hospitals serving them.  

Under the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act, tribes are allowed to provide health services for members instead of the Indian Health Service under certain conditions. Currently, 354 of the 567 federally recognized tribes take this approach. The program allows IHS to transfer funding to the tribes for them to figure out how to best provide care, and requires them to report on quality monitoring and tribal health status. The program makes up $1.8 billion of the $4.8 billion IHS budget.  

Dental Therapists Take on Dentists' Duties in Some States
But some American Dental Association members are raising concerns

Three states are empowering dental therapists to perform some tasks that previously were done by dentists. Dentists say the shift could weaken the quality of patient care because therapists are not sufficiently trained, an assertion therapists dispute.  

Vermont became the latest state earlier this summer to recognize dental therapists, which are licensed dental hygienists who have gone on to complete a dental therapy graduate program. The Green Mountain State joins Maine and Minnesota in allowing dental therapists to practice under the supervision of a dentist. The Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium also recognizes dental therapists to help on tribal land but state lawmakers have not formally passed legislation that would allow them to practice statewide. A therapist can provide oral health care services including filling cavities, placing temporary crowns, drilling and restoring teeth and extracting teeth while a hygienist is more focused on routine care like cleanings.  

Puerto Rico Zika Outbreak Highlights Island's Medicaid Woes
Extra Obamacare funding could be depleted next year

Puerto Rico is facing three converging crises demanding congressional attention: hundreds of cases of Zika, a $72 billion fiscal disaster and growing financial concerns about its Medicaid program.   

As lawmakers consider a $1.1 billion package to combat the spread of the mosquito-borne Zika virus that causes birth defects, the territory’s longstanding problems with funding its joint federal-state health insurance program for the poor are coming to a head.  

Maura Healey Targets ‘Ridiculous’ Gun Culture
First openly gay attorney general says civil rights should be on everyone’s agenda

Maura Healey has one word to describe the gun lobby — ridiculous.

The Massachusetts attorney general says it’s “ridiculous” the National Rifle Association has so much control over gun rights debates. “Ridiculous” that Congress won’t allow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to study gun violence as a public health issue. And “ridiculous” that people who are a danger to themselves and others can get guns.

Black Women's Caucus to Launch
Congressional group answers White House initiative focusing on men and boys

Three Democratic House members are launching a new caucus specifically focused on issues affecting black women, saying that Congress “altogether ignores the systemic challenges they face.”  

Reps. Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey, Robin Kelly of Illinois and Yvette D. Clarke of New York announced on Tuesday the launch of the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls, calling it a long awaited answer to the White House's My Brother’s Keeper initiative, which focuses on black men and boys.  

Selling Medicaid to Skeptics in Alabama

Stephanie Azar says she is something of a budget hawk — every penny at the Alabama Medicaid agency has to be accounted for at all times.

As commissioner and general counsel for the program, Azar said being able to defend every dollar that goes out of her doors makes it slightly easier when asking state lawmakers for money — especially in a deep red state that is skeptical of federal programs.

Kate Brown: 'A Voice for Those That Don't Have One'

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown says she had long aspired to run for the office she now holds.  

She didn’t think her moment would come just a month after her predecessor, John Kitzhaber had been sworn into his fourth term.  

Legal Troubles Await Governors Seeking to Bar Refugees

Governors could be opening their states to costly court challenges as they try to block Syrian refugees from settling in the United States after the Islamic State claimed responsibility for terrorist attacks in Paris.

GOP Governors Say No to Syrian Refugees

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott dispatched a message Monday to President Barack Obama: Syrian refugees will be unwelcome in the Lone Star State.