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Cities Know the Way Police Respond to Mental Crisis Calls Needs to Change. But How?



Nicole Leonard, WHYY and Kate Wolffe, CapRadio and Simone Popperl
Thu, 08 Feb 2024 10:00:00 +0000

If you or someone you know may be experiencing a mental health crisis, contact the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline by dialing “988,” or the Crisis Text Line by texting “HOME” to 741741.

Philadelphia police officers Kenneth Harper and Jennifer Torres were in their patrol car sitting at a red light when a call came in over the 911 radio dispatch.

“This job says ‘female complaint in reference to dispute with daughter, suffers from bipolar, infant on location,'” Harper read off the computer near the front seat.


The officers got a little more information from the dispatcher: A mother needed help with her adult daughter who had become combative after drinking alcohol.

It was a Friday morning. Harper and Torres quickly drove off in the direction of the address they were given just a few miles away. They traveled in a white SUV, absent of any police markings, with a third team member in the back seat, Krystian Gardner. Gardner is not a police officer. She's a mental health clinician and social worker.

“Do we know the age of the daughter?” Gardner asked the officers. She was preparing a list of possible services and treatment options.

As the team pulled up to a row house in North Philadelphia, the mother was waiting for them outside, on the front stoop. They spent 40 minutes with the family, working to de-escalate the immediate tension, the mom with , and connect her daughter to treatment services.


The trio returned to the patrol car and got to work documenting what had happened and recording the visit in an electronic database.

Officer Torres commented on the adult daughter: “In regards to her mental health, she is taking care of herself, she's taking her medication, and she's going to therapy, so we don't need to help her too much on that aspect.”

“She's actually sleeping right now, so I gave her my card and she'll call us whenever she wakes up,” Torres added.

Soon, the radio crackled with their next call, to a home across town where an older woman with a history of mental disorders had wandered outside naked.


This visit took longer, over an hour, but had a similar outcome — help with the immediate mental health crisis, a connection to follow-up services with a case manager, and no arrest or use of force by police.

New Ways to Respond to Behavioral Health Needs

Emergency dispatchers in Philadelphia are increasingly assigning 911 calls involving people in mental health crises to the city's Crisis Intervention Response Team, which pairs police officers with civilian mental health professionals. This model is called a “co-responder program.”

are experimenting with new ways to meet the rapidly increasing demand for behavioral health crisis intervention, at a time when incidents of police shooting and killing people in mental health crisis have become painfully familiar.


Big questions persist: What role should enforcement play in mental crisis response, if any? How can leaders make sure the right kind of response is dispatched to meet the needs of a person in crisis? And what kind of ongoing support is necessary after a crisis response call?

City officials and behavioral health professionals often don't have easy answers, in part because the programs are new and hard data on their effectiveness is scarce. Without a single, definitive model for how to improve crisis response, cities are trying to learn from one another's successes and mistakes as they build and adjust their programs.

The Philadelphia Police Department established its Behavioral Health Unit in November 2022 and officially launched the co-responder crisis teams as a main feature.

The department said its goal is to meet people's immediate behavioral health needs, avoiding arrests or use of force, if possible. Philadelphia's program has answered about 600 calls since December 2022 — and only one case resulted in an arrest as of November 2023, according to city data.


In about 85% of cases, people experienced one of four major outcomes: They were connected to outpatient mental health and social services, voluntarily entered psychiatric treatment, were involuntarily committed to treatment, or were taken to a hospital for medical care.

“I think the practical experiences that people have had has really opened up a lot of people's eyes to what the work does, how it's actually reducing harm to the community,” said Kurt August, director of Philadelphia's Office of Criminal Justice.

Give a Social Worker a Dispatch Radio

City officials in Philadelphia looked to such cities as Los Angeles, Houston, and Denver, which have developed their own models over the years. They contacted people like Chris Richardson.


Richardson in 2016 helped found Denver's co-responder program, which pairs police officers with mental health professionals, like Philadelphia's CIRT program.

Denver had been unhappy with the status quo, Richardson recalled. At the time, rank-and-file police officers were the only ones responding to 911 calls involving people in crisis.

“We just heard a lot of those communities saying, ‘We wish there was something better,'” he said. “That's what kind of gave us that ability to start those conversations and start a partnership.”

Getting buy-in from law enforcement and other emergency response teams took time, Richardson said. Eventually, the co-responder program grew to include all police precincts and several fire departments.


Then, Denver city and county park rangers began requesting the aid of mental health professionals to accompany them while on patrol in public spaces, and during emergency calls.

“And then, somewhere in the middle there, we were like, you know, give a social worker a radio. We're like, why are we sending police to this, in general?” he said. “How do we take police out of things that don't need policing?”

Denver then launched a second model, its civilian response program, in 2019. It brings together paramedics and mental health professionals to respond to crisis calls — no police officers involved.

Now, Denver uses both models — the co-responder program with police, and the all-civilian response program — to Denver's crisis needs. Richardson said both programs are necessary, at least in Denver.


“It's a spectrum of care with behavioral health crises,” he said. “Some of it is really low-level. No threats, no safety concerns, no legal issues.”

But sometimes responders or community members may face serious safety concerns, and that's when a co-response team that includes police officers is needed, Richardson said.

“We want to make sure that that person in crisis is still getting taken care of,” he said.

Getting the Right Responders to the Right Call


Officials in Philadelphia want the police co-responder program to work in parallel with the city's existing network of civilian-only mental health response teams. The co-responder program is dispatched by 911, while the all-civilian program is activated when residents call 988.

The 988 system launched in July 2022, providing a three-digit number that can be dialed from any phone by people who are suicidal or experiencing a behavioral emergency. Calls are routed to a network of over 200 local and state-funded crisis centers.

“A large percentage of Philadelphians are not aware of 988,” said Jill Bowen, commissioner of the Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services. “I like to say that people are born knowing to call 911, kind of come out of the womb and they know to call 911. And we really are trying to reach that kind of level of awareness.”

To help sort incoming calls, 911 dispatch centers in Philadelphia have been hiring mental health professionals. They can screen calls from people in crisis who don't need a police response, and forward them to 988.


Other cities and states are also struggling with confusion over how to handle the overlap between 911 and 988 calls.

Although 988 is a national network, calls are taken by regional call centers, which are overseen and managed by local governments. The federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration said it is working on “building strong coordination between the two services,” but it's currently up to states and counties themselves to figure out how 911 and 988 work together.

National data collected one year after 988's implementation showed that most calls to the service can be handled with conversation and referrals to other services. But 2% of calls to 988 require rapid in-person intervention. In most states, the responding agency is 911, which deploys traditional law enforcement, or co-response teams, if they're available.

Next Steps: A Safe Place to Go


In states where awareness of 988 is higher, some behavioral health leaders are focused on a lack of continuing care resources for people in crisis.

During a July press conference marking one year since 988, Shari Sinwelski, the head of California's biggest crisis call center, described the ideal crisis response as a three-legged stool: “someone to talk to, someone to respond, a safe place to go.” The idea was introduced by SAMHSA in 2020.

In California, 44 out of its 58 counties have some form of mobile crisis response, meaning a team that can travel to someone in need, according to a 2021 survey conducted in partnership with the County Behavioral Health Directors Association of California.

However, the preparedness of these teams varies significantly. The survey identified that many of them don't operate 24/7, have long wait times (up to a day), and aren't equipped to handle in crisis.


The same survey found that around 43% of the state's counties didn't have any physical place for people to go and stabilize during and after a crisis. WellSpace Health is California's second-biggest 988 center, by call volume, and is located in Sacramento County. A few years ago, WellSpace leaders decided it was time to open a crisis stabilization unit.

In summer 2020, WellSpace unveiled the Crisis Receiving for Behavioral Health center, known as “Crib,” in downtown Sacramento. The center receives people experiencing a mental health crisis or drug intoxication and allows them to stay for 24 hours and be connected to other services. The group says it has served more than 7,500 people since opening.

Physical locations linked to services, like Crib, are a crucial part of a well-functioning 988 system, said Jennifer Snow, national director of government relations and policy for the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

“Those crisis stabilization programs are really key to helping somebody not languish in the ER or unnecessarily get caught up in the criminal justice system,” she said.


Snow said it's too early to know how the nation is progressing overall on building up these kinds of centers.

“This is something I am dying to know, and we just don't,” she said.

Snow explained that the crisis care system has roots in law enforcement, so it tends to replicate law enforcement's decentralized and locally led structure.

“It makes it harder to look at it from a national perspective and, you know, be able to identify exactly where are these services and where are the gaps in services,” she said.


Building additional crisis centers, and hiring enough response teams to respond quickly, at all hours, in more of the U.S., would require significant investment. The current system relies heavily on state and local government funding, and more federal support is needed, Snow said.

In 2022, a group of legislators introduced the 988 Implementation Act in the House of Representatives. They were able to pass several provisions, including securing $385 million for certified community behavioral health clinics, which operate 24/7 crisis care, and $20 million for mobile crisis response pilot programs.

The bill was reintroduced in 2023, with the goal of passing the remaining sections. A significant provision would force Medicare and Medicaid, as well as private health insurance, to reimburse providers for crisis services.

This article is from a partnership that includes CapRadio, WHYY, NPR, and KFF Health .


KFF Health News is a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism about health issues and is one of the core operating programs at KFF—an independent source of health policy research, polling, and journalism. Learn more about KFF.


This story can be republished for (details).

By: Nicole Leonard, WHYY and Kate Wolffe, CapRadio and Simone Popperl
Title: Cities Know the Way Police Respond to Mental Crisis Calls Needs to Change. But How?
Sourced From: kffhealthnews.org/news/article/police-response-mental-crisis-calls-988/
Published Date: Thu, 08 Feb 2024 10:00:00 +0000


Kaiser Health News

Pregnancy Care Was Always Lacking in Jails. It Could Get Worse.



Renuka Rayasam
Fri, 23 Feb 2024 10:00:00 +0000

It was about midnight in June 2022 when officers showed up at Angela Collier's door and told her that someone anonymously requested a welfare check because they thought she might have had a miscarriage.

Standing in front of the concrete steps of her home in Midway, Texas, Collier, initially barefoot and wearing a baggy gray T-shirt, told officers she planned to see a doctor in the morning because she had been bleeding.

Police body camera footage obtained by KFF Health News through an open request shows that the officers then told Collier — who was 29 at the time and enrolled in online classes to study psychology — to turn around.


Instead of taking her to get medical care, they handcuffed and arrested her because she had outstanding warrants in a neighboring county for failing to appear in court to face misdemeanor drug charges three weeks earlier. She had missed that court date, medical records show, because she was at a hospital receiving treatment for pregnancy complications.

Despite her symptoms and being about 13 weeks pregnant, Collier spent the next day and a half in the Walker County Jail, about 80 miles north of Houston. She said her bleeding worsened there and she begged repeatedly for medical attention that she didn't receive, according to a formal complaint she filed with the Texas Commission on Jail Standards.

“There wasn't anything I could do,” she said, but “just lay there and be scared and not know what was going to happen.”

Collier's experience highlights the limited oversight and absence of federal standards for reproductive care for pregnant women in the criminal justice system. people have a constitutional right to health care, yet only a half-dozen states have passed laws guaranteeing access to prenatal or postpartum medical care for people in custody, according to a review of reproductive health care legislation for incarcerated people by a research group at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. And now abortion restrictions might be putting care further out of reach.


Collier's arrest was “shocking and disturbing” because officers “blithely” took her to jail despite her miscarriage concerns, said Wanda Bertram, a spokesperson for the Prison Policy Initiative, a nonprofit organization that studies incarceration. Bertram reviewed the body cam footage and Collier's complaint.

“Police arrest people who are in medical emergencies all the time,” she said. “And they do that regardless of the fact that the jail is often not equipped to care for those people in the way an emergency room might be.”

After a decline during the first year of the pandemic, the number of women in U.S. jails is once again rising, nearly 93,000 in June 2022, a 33% increase over 2020, according to the Department of Justice. Tens of thousands of pregnant women enter U.S. jails each year, according to estimates by Carolyn Sufrin, an associate professor of gynecology and obstetrics at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, who researches pregnancy care in jails and prisons.

The health care needs of incarcerated women have “always been an afterthought,” said Dana Sussman, deputy executive director at Pregnancy Justice, an organization that defends women who have been charged with crimes related to their pregnancy, such as substance use. For example, about half of states don't provide menstrual products in jails and prisons. “And then the needs of pregnant women are an afterthought beyond that,” Sussman said.


Researchers and advocates worry that confusion over recent abortion restrictions may further complicate the situation. A nurse cited Texas' abortion laws as one reason Collier didn't need care, according to her statement to the standards commission.

Texas allows treatment of miscarriage and ectopic pregnancies, a -threatening condition in which a fertilized egg implants outside the uterus. However, different interpretations of the law can create confusion.

A nurse told Collier that “hospitals no longer did dilation and curettage,” Collier told the commission. “Since I wasn't hemorrhaging to the point of completely soaking my pants, there wasn't anything that could be done for me,” she said.

Collier testified that she saw a nurse only once during her stay in jail, even after she repeatedly asked jail staffers for help. The nurse checked her temperature and blood pressure and told her to put in a formal request for Tylenol. Collier said she completed her miscarriage shortly after being released.


Collier's case is a “canary in a coal mine” for what is happening in jails; abortion restrictions are “going to have a huge ripple effect on a system already unequipped to handle obstetric emergencies,” Sufrin said.

‘There Are No Consequences'

Jail and prison health policies vary widely around the country and often fall far short of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists' guidelines for reproductive health care for incarcerated people. ACOG and other groups recommend that incarcerated women have access to unscheduled or emergency obstetric visits on a 24-hour basis and that on-site health care providers should be better trained to recognize pregnancy problems.

In Alabama, where women have been jailed for substance use during pregnancy, the offers pregnancy tests in jail. But it doesn't guarantee a minimum standard of prenatal care, such as access to extra food and medical visits, according to Johns Hopkins' review.


Policies for pregnant women at federal facilities also don't align with national standards for nutrition, safe housing, and access to medical care, according to a 2021 report from the Accountability Office.

Even when laws exist to ensure that incarcerated pregnant women have access to care, the language is often vague, leaving discretion to jail personnel.

Since 2020, Tennessee law has required that jails and prisons provide pregnant women “regular prenatal and postpartum care, as necessary.” But last August a woman gave birth in a jail cell after seeking medical attention for more than an hour, according to the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office.

Pregnancy complications can quickly escalate into life-threatening situations, requiring more timely and specialized care than jails can often provide, said Sufrin. And when jails fail to comply with laws on the books, little oversight or enforcement may exist.


In Louisiana, many jails didn't consistently follow laws that aimed to improve access to reproductive health care, such as providing free menstrual items, according to a May 2023 report commissioned by state lawmakers. The report also said jails weren't transparent about whether they followed other laws, such as prohibiting the use of solitary confinement for pregnant women.

Krishnaveni Gundu, as co-founder of the Texas Jail Project, which advocates for people held in county jails, has lobbied for more than a decade to strengthen state protections for pregnant incarcerated people.

In 2019, Texas became one of the few states to require that jails' health policies include obstetrical and gynecological care. The law requires jails to promptly transport a pregnant person in labor to a hospital, and additional regulations mandate access to medical and mental health care for miscarriages and other pregnancy complications.

But Gundu said lack of oversight and meaningful enforcement mechanisms, along with “apathy” among jail employees, have undermined regulatory protections.


“All those reforms feel futile,” said Gundu, who helped Collier prepare for her testimony. “There are no consequences.”

Before her arrest, Collier had been to the hospital twice that month experiencing pregnancy complications, a bladder infection, her medical records show. Yet the commission found that Walker County Jail didn't violate minimum standards. The commission did not consider the police body cam footage or Collier's personal medical records, which support her assertions of pregnancy complications, according to investigation documents obtained by KFF Health News via an open records request.

In making its determination, the commission relied mainly on the jail's medical records, which note that Collier asked for medical attention for a miscarriage once, in the morning on the day she was released, and refused Tylenol.

“Your complaint of no medical care is unfounded,” the commission concluded, “and no further action will be taken.”


Collier's miscarriage had ended before she entered the jail, argued Lt. Keith DeHart, jail lieutenant for the Walker County Sheriff's Office. “I believe there was some misunderstanding,” he said.

Brandon Wood, executive director of the commission, wouldn't comment on Collier's case but defends the group's investigation as thorough. Jails “have a duty to ensure that those records are accurate and truthful,” he said. And most Texas jails are complying with heightened standards, he said.

Bertram disagrees, saying the fact that care was denied to someone who was begging for it speaks volumes. “That should tell you something about what these standards are worth,” she said.

Last year, Chiree Harley spent six weeks in a Comal County, Texas, jail shortly after discovering she was pregnant and before she could get prenatal care, she said.


I was “thinking that I was going to be well taken care of,” said Harley, 37, who also struggled with substance use.

Jail officials put her in the infirmary, Harley said, but she saw only a jail doctor and never visited an OB-GYN, even though she had previous pregnancy complications including losing multiple pregnancies at around 21 weeks. This time she had no idea how far along she was.

She said that she started leaking amniotic fluid and having contractions on Nov. 1, but that jail officials waited nearly two days to take her to a hospital. Harley said officers forced her to sign papers releasing her from jail custody while she was having contractions in the hospital. Harley delivered at 23 weeks; the baby boy died less than a day later in her arms.

The whole experience was “very scary,” Harley said. “Afterwards we were all very, very devastated.”


Comal County declined to send Harley's medical and other records in response to an open records request. Michael Shaunessy, a partner at McGinnis Lochridge who represents Comal County, said in a statement that, “at all times, the Comal County Jail provided Chiree Harley with all appropriate and necessary medical treatment for her and her unborn child.” He did not respond to questions about whether Harley was provided specialized obstetric care.

‘I Trusted Those People'

In states like Idaho, Mississippi, and Louisiana that installed near-total abortion bans after the Supreme Court eliminated the constitutional right to abortion in 2022, some patients might have to wait until no fetal cardiac activity is detected before they can get care, said Kari White, the executive and scientific director of Resound Research for Reproductive Health.

White co-authored a recent study that documented 50 cases in which pregnancy care deviated from the standard because of abortion restrictions even outside of jails and prisons. Health care providers who worry about running afoul of strict laws might tell patients to go home and wait until their situations worsen.


“Obviously, it's much trickier for people who are in jail or in prison, because they are not going to necessarily be able to leave again,” she said.

Advocates argue that boosting oversight and standards is a start, but that states need to find other ways to manage pregnant women who get caught in the justice system.

For many pregnant people, even a short stay in jail can cause lasting trauma and interrupt crucial prenatal care.

Collier remembers being in “disbelief” when she was first arrested but said she was not “distraught.”


“I figured I would be taken care of, that nothing bad was gonna happen to me,” she said. As it became clear that she wouldn't get care, she grew distressed.

After her miscarriage, Collier saw a mental health specialist and started medication to treat depression. She hasn't returned to her studies, she said.

“I trusted those people,” Collier said about the jail staff. “The whole experience really messed my head up.”

By: Renuka Rayasam
Title: Pregnancy Care Was Always Lacking in Jails. It Could Get Worse.
Sourced From: kffhealthnews.org/news/article/pregnancy-care-jails-prisons-incarcerated-women/
Published Date: Fri, 23 Feb 2024 10:00:00 +0000

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Kaiser Health News

Florida Defies CDC in Measles Outbreak, Telling Parents It’s Fine to Send Unvaccinated Kids to School



Amy Maxmen
Fri, 23 Feb 2024 10:00:00 +0000

With a brief memo, Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo has subverted a public standard that's long kept measles outbreaks under control.

On Feb. 20, as measles spread through Manatee Bay Elementary in South Florida, Ladapo sent parents a letter granting them permission to send unvaccinated to school amid the outbreak.

The Department of Health “is deferring to parents or guardians to make decisions about school attendance,” wrote Ladapo, who was appointed to head the agency by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, whose name is listed above Ladapo's in the letterhead.


Ladapo's move contradicts advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“This is not a parental rights issue,” said Scott Rivkees, Florida's former surgeon general who is now a professor at Brown . “It's about protecting fellow classmates, teachers, and members of the community against measles, which is a very serious and very transmissible illness.”

Most people who aren't protected by a vaccine will get measles if they're exposed to the virus. This vulnerable group includes children whose parents don't get them vaccinated, infants too young for the vaccine, those who can't be vaccinated for medical reasons, and others who don't mount a strong, lasting immune response to it. Rivkees estimates that about a tenth of people in a community fall into the vulnerable category.

The CDC advises that unvaccinated stay home from school for three weeks after exposure. Because the highly contagious measles virus spreads on tiny droplets through the and on surfaces, students are considered exposed simply by sitting in the same cafeteria or classroom as someone infected. And a person with measles can pass along an infection before they develop a fever, cough, rash, or other signs of the illness. About 1 in 5 people with measles end up hospitalized, 1 in 10 develop ear infections that can lead to permanent hearing loss, and about 1 in 1,000 die from respiratory and neurological complications.


“I don't know why the health department wouldn't follow the CDC recommendations,” said Thresia Gambon, president of the Florida chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and a pediatrician who practices in Miami and Broward, the county affected by the current measles outbreak. “Measles is so contagious. It is very worrisome.”

Considering the dangers of the disease, the vaccine is incredibly safe. A person is about four times as likely to die from being struck by lightning during their lifetime in the United States as to have a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction to the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine.

Nonetheless, last year a record number of parents filed for exemptions from school vaccine requirements on religious or philosophical grounds across the United States. The CDC reported that childhood immunization rates hit a 10-year low.

In addition to Florida, measles cases have been reported in 11 other states this year, including Arizona, Georgia, Minnesota, and Virginia.


Only about a quarter of Florida's counties had reached the 95% threshold at which communities are considered well protected against measles outbreaks, according to the most recent data posted by the Florida Department of Health in 2022. In Broward County, where six cases of measles have been reported over the past week, about 92% of children in kindergarten had received routine immunizations against measles, chickenpox, polio, and other diseases. The remaining 8% included more than 1,500 kids who had vaccine exemptions, as of 2022.

Broward's local health department has been offering measles vaccines at Manatee Bay Elementary since the outbreak began, according to the county school superintendent. If an unvaccinated person gets a dose within three days of exposure to the virus, they're far less likely to get measles and spread it to others.

For this reason, government have occasionally mandated vaccines in emergencies in the past. For example, Philadelphia's deputy health commissioner in 1991 ordered children to get vaccinated against their parents' wishes during outbreaks traced to their faith-healing churches. And during a large measles outbreak among Orthodox Jewish communities in Brooklyn in 2019, the New York health commissioner mandated that anyone who lived, worked, or went to school in hard-hit neighborhoods get vaccinated or face a fine of $1,000. In that ordinance, the commissioner wrote that the presence of anyone lacking the vaccine in those areas, unless it was medically contraindicated, “creates an unnecessary and avoidable risk of continuing the outbreak.”

Ladapo moved in the opposite direction with his letter, deferring to parents because of the “high immunity rate in the community,” which data contradicts, and because of the “burden on families and educational cost of healthy children missing school.”


Yet the burden of an outbreak only grows larger as cases of measles spread, requiring more emergency care, more testing, and broader quarantines as illness and hospitalizations mount. Curbing a 2018 outbreak in southern Washington with 72 cases cost about $2.3 million, in addition to $76,000 in medical costs, and an estimated $1 million in economic losses due to illness, quarantine, and caregiving. If numbers soar, becomes a burden, too. An outbreak among a largely unvaccinated population in Samoa caused more than 5,700 cases and 83 deaths, mainly among children.

Ladapo's letter to parents also marks a departure from the norm because local health departments tend to take the lead on containing measles outbreaks, rather than state or federal authorities. In response to queries from KFF Health News, Broward County's health department deferred to Florida's state health department, which Ladapo oversees.

“The county doesn't have the power to disagree with the state health department,” said Rebekah Jones, a data scientist who was removed from her post at the Florida health department in 2020, over a rift regarding coronavirus data.

DeSantis, a Republican, appointed Ladapo as head of the state health department in late 2021, as DeSantis integrated skepticism about covid vaccines into his political platform. In the months that followed, Florida's health department removed information on covid vaccines from its homepage, and reprimanded a county health director for encouraging his staff to get the vaccines, leading to his resignation. In January, the health department website posted Ladapo's call to halt vaccination with covid mRNA vaccines entirely, based on notions that scientists call implausible.


Jones was not surprised to see Ladapo pivot to measles. “I think this is the predictable outcome of turning fringe, anti-vaccine rhetoric into a defining trait of the Florida government,” she said. Although his latest runs contrary to CDC advice, the federal agency rarely intervenes in measles outbreaks, entrusting the task to states.

In an email to KFF Health News, the Florida health department said it was working with others to identify the contacts of people with measles, but that details on cases and places of exposure were confidential. It repeated Ladapo's decision, adding, “The surgeon general's recommendation may change as epidemiological investigations continue.”

For Gambon, the outbreak is already disconcerting. “I would like to see the surgeon general promote what is safest for children and for school staff,” she said, “since I am sure there are many who might not have as strong immunity as we would hope.”

KFF Health News is a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism about health issues and is one of the core operating programs at KFF—an independent source of health policy research, polling, and journalism. Learn more about KFF.



This story can be republished for (details).

By: Amy Maxmen
Title: Florida Defies CDC in Measles Outbreak, Telling Parents It's Fine to Send Unvaccinated Kids to School
Sourced From: kffhealthnews.org/news/article/florida-defies-cdc-measles-outbreak/
Published Date: Fri, 23 Feb 2024 10:00:00 +0000

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Kaiser Health News

KFF Health News’ ‘What the Health?’: Alabama Court Rules Embryos Are Children. What Now?



Thu, 22 Feb 2024 20:00:00 +0000

The Host

Julie Rovner
KFF News


Read Julie's stories.


Julie Rovner is chief Washington correspondent and host of KFF Health News' weekly health policy news podcast, “What the Health?” A noted expert on health policy issues, Julie is the author of the critically praised reference book “ and Policy A to Z,” now in its third edition.

The Alabama Supreme Court's groundbreaking ruling last week that frozen embryos have legal rights as people has touched off a national debate about the potential fallout of the “personhood” movement. Already the of Alabama-Birmingham has paused its in vitro fertilization program while it determines the ongoing legality of a process that has become increasingly common for those wishing to start a

Meanwhile, former President Donald Trump is reportedly leaning toward endorsing a national, 16-week abortion ban. At the same time, former aides are planning a long agenda of reproductive health restrictions should Trump win a second term.

This week's panelists are Julie Rovner of KFF Health News, Lauren Weber of The Washington Post, Rachana Pradhan of KFF Health News, and Victoria Knight of Axios.



Victoria Knight


Read Victoria's stories.

Rachana Pradhan
KFF Health News



Read Rachana's stories.

Lauren Weber
The Washington Post



Read Lauren's stories.

Among the takeaways from this week's episode:

  • The Alabama Supreme Court's decision on embryonic personhood could have wide-ranging implications beyond reproductive health care, with potential implications for tax deductions, child support payments, criminal law, and much more.
  • Donald Trump is considering a national abortion ban at 16 weeks of gestation, according to recent reports. It is unclear whether such a ban would go far enough to please his conservative supporters, but it would be far enough to give Democrats ammunition to campaign on it. And some are looking into using a 19th-century anti-smut law, the Comstock Act, to implement a national ban under a new Trump presidency — no action from necessary.
  • New reporting from KFF Health News draws on many interviews with clinicians at Catholic hospitals about how the Roman Catholic Church's directives dictate the care they may offer patients, especially in reproductive health. It also draws attention to the vast number of religiously affiliated hospitals and the fact that, for many women, a Catholic hospital may be their only option.
  • Questions about 's cognitive health are drawing attention to ageism in politics — as well as in American life, with fewer people taking precautions against the virus even as it remains a serious threat to vulnerable people, especially the elderly. The mental fitness of the nation's leaders is a valid, relevant question for many voters, though the questions are also fueled by frustration with a political system in which many offices are held by older people who have been around a long time.

Plus, for “extra credit” the panelists suggest health policy stories they read this week that they think you should read, too:

Julie Rovner: Stat's “New CMS Rules Will Throttle Access Researchers Need to Medicare, Medicaid Data,” by Rachel M. Werner.

Lauren Weber: The Washington Post's “They Take Kratom to Ease Pain or Anxiety. Sometimes, Death Follows,” by David Ovalle.


Rachana Pradhan: Politico's “Red States Hopeful for a 2nd Trump Term Prepare to Curtail Medicaid,” by Megan Messerly.

Victoria Knight: ProPublica's “The Year After a Denied Abortion,” by Stacy Kranitz and Kavitha Surana.

Also mentioned on this week's podcast:


Francis Ying
Audio producer

Emmarie Huetteman


To hear all our click here.

And subscribe to KFF Health News' “What the Health?” on SpotifyApple PodcastsPocket Casts, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Title: KFF Health News' ‘What the Health?': Alabama Court Rules Embryos Are . What Now?
Sourced From: kffhealthnews.org/news/podcast/what-the-health-335-alabama-ruling-embryos-children-february-22-2024/
Published Date: Thu, 22 Feb 2024 20:00:00 +0000

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