Christine Vestal

Christine Vestal covers mental health and drug addiction for Stateline. Previously, she covered health care for McGraw-Hill and the Financial Times.

Millions of kids could lose health coverage as states purge Medicaid rolls

By: - April 26, 2023

Millions of parents who take their children to the doctor this year will hear devastating news: “Your Medicaid coverage has been canceled.” That’s because all 50 states are undertaking the biggest reshuffling of health insurance coverage since the Affordable Care Act took effect in 2010. But instead of adding insurance options for people with low […]

Gun Deaths Drive Historic Spike in Child Mortality Rates

By: and - April 18, 2023

After decades of steady improvement, the death rate of America’s children and teens shot up between 2019 and 2021 — and COVID-19 wasn’t the reason. Gun-related deaths represented the largest share of the increase — by far. According to an analysis of the most recent death certificate data from the federal Centers for Disease Control […]

First State Law to Criminalize Abortion ‘Trafficking’ May Inspire Others

By: - April 7, 2023

Read more Stateline coverage on how states are either protecting or curbing access to abortions. Amid a flood of residents fleeing states that ban abortions to seek legal procedures or medication elsewhere, Idaho has become the first state to try to stem that exodus — at least for minors. Abortion is illegal at all stages of pregnancy […]

Awash in Federal Money, State Lawmakers Tackle Worsening Youth Mental Health

By: - March 17, 2023

The pandemic accelerated a yearslong decline in the mental health of the nation’s children and teens. The number of young people experiencing sadness, hopelessness and thoughts of suicide has increased dramatically, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In response, states, cities and school districts are using COVID-19 relief dollars and their own money to […]

Texas Abortion Ruling Nears, But Blue States Aren’t Waiting to Protect Pill Access

By: - March 10, 2023

Read more Stateline coverage on how states are either protecting or curbing access to abortions. A federal judge in Texas soon could make one of the two pills used in medication abortions harder to come by, even in blue states that support abortion rights. Officials and advocates in those states aren’t waiting for the judge to rule. […]

Addiction Treatment May Be Coming to a Pharmacy Near You

By: - February 24, 2023

Despite an overdose epidemic that killed 107,000 people last year, nearly 9 in 10 Americans who need medication to treat their addiction to deadly opioids aren’t receiving it. Surprising new results from a first-of-its-kind study in Rhode Island could hold a key to getting addiction medication to more people who need it: allowing patients to […]

States, Cities Scramble to Combat Animal ‘Tranq’ in Street Drugs

By: - February 8, 2023

As a dangerous new additive found in fentanyl and other street drugs surges from coast to coast, health officials in nearly every state are scrambling to track it.   Xylazine, a large-animal tranquilizer not approved for human use, started showing up routinely in the drug supply in 2019, but didn’t take off until the coronavirus […]

Looming Court Rulings to Decide Future of Abortion Pills

By: - January 30, 2023

Read more Stateline coverage on how states are either protecting or curbing access to abortions. Medication abortion, which accounts for more than half of all abortions in the United States, has become more common since the Supreme Court overturned the federal right to abortion this summer. But in federal courts and state legislatures, abortion opponents are trying […]

Child Vaccination Rates, Already Down Because of COVID, Fall Again

By: - January 12, 2023

Child vaccination rates dipped into dangerous territory during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, when schools were shuttered, and most doctors were only seeing emergency patients. But instead of recovering after schools reopened in 2021, those historically low rates worsened, according to new data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Experts […]

As Fentanyl Use Spikes, Feds Urge States to Ease Methadone Rules

By: - December 19, 2022

Ever since the deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl began showing up in the illicit drug supply in 2014, the number of U.S. overdose deaths has skyrocketed — exceeding all other accidental deaths, including car crashes and gun violence. In response, the federal government and some states are redoubling efforts to curb the epidemic of overdoses from […]

As Overdose Deaths Rise, Few Emergency Rooms Offer Addiction Help

By: - December 9, 2022

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Even in this easygoing, subtropical city, the onset of winter and the stress of the holidays can test the mettle of anyone trying to quit opioids.   “As soon as temperatures start to drop and it gets chilly in the mornings, we see more people coming into the emergency department looking for […]

Abortion Advocates Aim to Outflank Lawmakers Using 2024 Ballot Measures

By: - November 23, 2022

Read more Stateline coverage on how states are either protecting or curbing access to abortions. Encouraged by six victories — and zero defeats — in this month’s midterm elections, abortion rights advocates are considering another round of ballot measures in 2024 that would enshrine reproductive freedom in state constitutions. This time, they’re mostly aiming at states with […]