The House Public Health committee today passed a bill sponsored by Rep. David Meeks, which would redefine "stillbirth" as the unintended death of a fetus any time after 12 weeks (current state law uses the medical definition, 20 weeks).
The bill would require that miscarriages that happened at 12 weeks gestation or more be reported to the division of Vital Records within five days after the event. Under current law, such fetal deaths must be reported when the fetus weighs more than 350 grams, or at 20 weeks if the weight is unknown. (The reporting requirement falls on medical providers, not on women who miscarry.)
The Arkansas Children’s Research Institute announced today that it has received a $9.4 million grant funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The grant will be used to create a center for the study of childhood obesity.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today announced $60 million awarded to "states, cities, and territories to support efforts to protect Americans from Zika virus disease and adverse health outcomes that can result from Zika infection, including the serious birth defect microcephaly." That includes $5.6 million to Arkansas. The funding will become available on August 1; Arkansas previously received $300,000 from the CDC on July 1.
House Speaker Jeremy Gillam and Joint Budget House Chairman Lane Jean have sent out documents to all House members detailing budget cuts if the legislature refuses to re-authorize Medicaid expansion. Read them and weep.
The Health Impact Project will award a grant to Arkansas Community Institute in Little Rock to develop a plan to assess the impact of substandard housing on health for city residents living south of I-630.
Chronic wasting disease is caused by a pathological agent called a prion, much like mad cow disease or Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans. It causes fatal neurological degeneration in deer, elk and moose.
Three flu-related deaths have occurred in Arkansas during this flu season, according to a report issued last week by the Arkansas Department of Health. All three were adults; the report does not indicate whether they had gotten flu vaccines.
The Arkansas Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control have confirmed that an Arkansas resident has been diagnosed with the Zika virus after returning from a trip abroad. The disease is spread by mosquitoes. According to the CDC, Zika can have symptoms of fever, rash, joint pain and itchy eyes. Symptoms generally last up to a week, and there's no known cure. A bigger possible risk, however, is to pregnant women, with serious birth defects reported in connection with the virus.
A letter bearing the names of 19 professors of psychology and social work from around the country has been sent to ABC to protest the television network's flawed depiction of reactive attachment disorder, or RAD, a part of "20/20's" coverage of the Rep. Justin Harris adoption story that the news magazine aired last month.
John Lyon of the Arkansas News Bureau reports this morning on TRANSform Health Arkansas, a collaboration between UAMS and the Arkansas Transgender Equality Coalition to collect survey data on health care issues facing trans people in the state.
For fans of the private option, the good news on cost just keeps on coming: The Department of Human Services released figures today that show the per capita cost of providing health insurance to low-income Arkansans has continued to remain flat throughout 2015. That figure has hovered right around $481 since the beginning of the year and ticked slightly downward this month to $480.67.
The Arkansas Public Policy Panel released a report today calling for the state to invest in mental-health crisis centers, where criminal offenders with mental health issues would get treatment, rather than simply being incarcerated.
Here's one bright spot at the legislature, at least: House Public Health this morning passed a bill by Rep. Clarke Tucker (D-Little Rock) that gives up to six weeks of paid maternity leave to state employees.
Yesterday, the House passed a bill by Rep. Deborah Ferguson (D-West Memphis) that would require public colleges and universities in Arkansas to develop an "action plan" to combat teen pregnancy. It's a fine idea. It's also frustratingly incomplete because of what it doesn't mention: contraception.
Since 1983, the FDA has prohibited donations of blood from a man who has had sex with another man at any point in his life. Now the agency will only prohibit donations from men who have had sex with men in the past 12 months.
The Arkansas Insurance Department today released the projected 2015 premiums for the health insurance plans on the Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace, the health insurance exchange created by Obamacare. These rates are still pending federal approval, which will come within the next month. We already knew the big picture: premiums in 2015 are falling 2.2 percent as compared to 2014 (by weighted average based on 2014 market share). What we have now are individualized rates so consumers can look at individual plans.
There's no reason to think that the one case of Ebola in the United States is anything but contained, and health workers are now taking every precaution to prevent the spread of the disease. Still, Dallas isn't that far from Arkansas, so we'd be remiss not to follow events down there.
Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen ruled today that he had no choice based on a past Arkansas Supreme Court decision but to dismiss a lawsuit by Death Row inmates seeking to challenge the constitutionality of the state's lethal injection process.But the judge did so unhappily with sharp criticism of the Arkansas Supreme Court for failing to address critical points raised in the lawsuit.
The AP reports that the Southeastern Conference, from which millions flow into University of Arkansas coffers, has asked the state to exempt college sports events from a newly expanded gun law that allows concealed weapons on college campuses, in the Capitol, in courthouses, in bars and in many other places.