Last week, the National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP) held its annual conference in Chicago. Now in its 32nd year, the conference provides an opportunity for state health officials, researchers, and policymakers to connect and learn about innovative health policy efforts taking place across the country. I had the opportunity to attend this year’s conference with fellow ACHI policy analyst Pader Moua. The conference featured a number of presentations on topics that ACHI and its partners are working to tackle here in Arkansas.
The opening plenary featured a powerful presentation from Gary Cohen, a 2015 MacArthur Fellow and president of Health Care Without Harm. Cohen delivered a strong message about the importance of understanding the relationship between climate change and our healthcare system. He discussed strategies for hospital systems to reduce their environmental footprint, along with broader policy options to address climate change as a major public health concern.
A number of the breakout sessions at NASHP also hit on several topics we’ve explored here at ACHI. A few highlights included:
- Rural Health — State officials from Montana and Pennsylvania shared efforts in their states to address issues surrounding rural healthcare delivery, including new payment models to help sustain rural hospitals and provide continued healthcare access in rural communities. The sustainability of rural hospitals is an important conversation currently taking place in Arkansas, as our state continues to face challenges.
- Surprise Medical Billing — A panel on surprise billing included commentary from state officials representing Maryland, Nevada, and Mexico that have been successful in passing surprise billing legislation. Back in May, we published an explainer on surprise billing and policy considerations at both the state and federal levels.
- Improving Assisted Living — The final panel I attended featured speakers from Alaska, Wisconsin, and Washington state and included discussion about improving the integration of assisted living into long-term care systems.
We left the conference feeling inspired after hearing success stories from states facing challenges similar to those we are grappling with here. We will apply the knowledge gained from this experience as we continue to assess and develop informed health policy options for policymakers here in Arkansas.