70: An MD to Lead ONDCP

ASTHO CEO Mike Fraser says the appointment of Dr. Rahul Gupta, the former West Virginia health commissioner, to be Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy,  is good news for states and territories; Chris Salyers,...


ASTHO CEO Mike Fraser says the appointment of Dr. Rahul Gupta, the former West Virginia health commissioner, to be Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy,  is good news for states and territories; Chris Salyers, Director of Programs and Evaluation at the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health, explains how public health departments can support rural health initiatives; ASTHO offers two new blog articles focused on rural health policies and programs; Josh Berry, Senior Analyst of Chronic Disease Prevention at ASTHO, says states and territories can expect Big Tobacco to fight back when lawmakers return to work in January; and Dr. Alexis Travis, Senior Deputy Director at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, provides today’s “thankful” note.

White House webpage: United States Senate Confirms Dr. Rahul Gupta as Director of National Drug Control Policy

ASTHO Blog Article: National Rural Health Day – States Investing in Rural Communities

ASTHO Blog Article: Members Spotlight – Ayne Amjad and Maggie Cook-Shimanek

Webpage: National Rural Health Day

ASTHO E-Learning: Responding to Emerging Challenges in Tobacco Control

ASTHO Blog Article: Despite Major Benefits, Flavored Tobacco Regulations Face an Uphill Battle Led by Big Tobacco

APHA webpage: Public Health Thank You Day

ASTHO logo

Transcript

ROBERT JOHNSON:

This is Public Health Review Morning Edition for Thursday, November 18th, 2021. I'm Robert Johnson.

Here's today's news from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.

 

Later today, history will be made when a medical doctor is sworn in as director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Dr. Rahul Gupta is the first MD to ever hold the position. He takes the oath in a ceremony at the White House complex this afternoon.

ASTHO CEO Mike Fraser says the appointment of the former West Virginia health commissioner is good news for states and territories.

MIKE FRASER:

I think it's very significant. I think that, you know, normally we would have assumed one of a number of candidates would have been law enforcement or someone from the military, potentially. Having the leader of our Office of National Drug Control Policy be a clinician, be a public health person, is significant.

And I think it's a great opportunity for the office to lead across government approaches, to really think about prevention, not just some of the punishments and you know, the other things that we associate with drug control. It's a potential to change the dialogue, and that's exciting.

 

JOHNSON:

Supporters of a strong healthcare system across rural America are sharing the good news today as they celebrate National Rural Health Day.

Chris Salyers is the director of programs and evaluation at the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health. He says public health leaders can do a lot to help improve rural health in their jurisdictions.

CHRIS SALYERS:

I have four recommendations that I think could really help rural communities: one, support the collection and accessibility of better rural-specific data; two, build the capacity of local public health and community-based organizations to address those local needs; three, support the alignment of Medicare and Medicaid policy for strategies that we know work in rural; and four, forge a relationship with the state office of rural health in your state.

JOHNSON:

Indeed, ASTHO members are engaged in several initiatives. They're using policy to develop the workforce and supporting legislation to expand access to broadband and telehealth.

You can find two new blog articles focused on these topics using the links in the show notes.

 

Also on the calendar today: the Great American Smokeout, an opportunity to highlight the dangers of tobacco use and offer help to smokers who'd like to quit. Recent policy efforts have focused on regulations to restrict the sale of flavored e-cigarette products that target kids and people of color.

Josh Berry, a senior analyst of chronic disease prevention at ASTHO, says states and territories can expect Big Tobacco to fight back when lawmakers return to work ihn Janurary.

JOSH BERRY:

We've seen a number of states have some really strong, comprehensive flavor policies that got completely derailed when Big Tobacco got involved in the policymaking process there.

You know, we've seen in a couple of states Big Tobacco worked with legislators in states to introduce amendments to legislation that would carve out exemptions—for example, wanting to cut out menthol cigarettes from a comprehensive flavor tobacco policy, even though those products have been marketed in a very predatory fashion to Black Americans and to other underserved communities for generations now.

 

JOHNSON:

Finally this morning, Public Health Thank You Day is next Monday, November 22nd.

We continue our month-long celebration with this thankful note from Dr. Alexis Travis, the senior deputy director at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

  1. ALEXIS TRAVIS:

We just have a great and phenomenal team of public health professionals who work tirelessly to respond to anything that is thrown at us in any given day. And so, I'm just really thankful for my team, for the dedication, the work that they do, every single day.

A lot of the time I'm out in the community, talking with people about the work that we do, but it's really their hard work that leads to the success that we see, and just being able to be responsive to our communities.

 

JOHNSON:

Remember every story in this newscast has a link to follow for more information—those can be found in the show notes.

 

That'll do it for today's report.

 

Make sure to follow us on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. You can also listen on Alexa or Google assistant.

If you have time, we'd be grateful if you could leave us a rating and a review.

 

Be sure to join us again tomorrow morning for more ASTHO news and information.

I'm Robert Johnson. You're listening to Public Health Review Morning Edition. Have a great day.