KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Roundup: Mass. Doctors Seek Care-Management Funds; Fla. Groups Fear Scott Will Block Federal Grants

Boston Globe: Doctors Say Insurers Should Share Premiums To Hospitals And Physicians Groups
It's clear from the data that hospitals and doctors can do a lot better at coordinating care for their patients. On the final day of hearings on controlling health care costs today, state officials estimated that at least $2 billion was spent in Massachusetts in 2009 on potentially avoidable emergency room visits, hospitalizations and readmissions. These are problems that can be addressed in part by having primary care doctors closely oversee patients care, to look for and treat medical issues before they become serious (Kowalczyk, 6/30).

Health News Florida:  Will Scott Block Still More Grants?
Dozens of health alliances around the state that are competing for big federal grants are worried that Gov. Rick Scott will block their chances of winning.  Their concern is over 75 Community Transformation Grants that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will award, worth a combined $100 million. The program is part of the federal health law that Florida is contesting in court, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  Opposition to the Act by Scott and legislative leaders has already led Florida to turn down more than $50 million in health funds that were then redirected to other states (Davis & Gentry, 6/30).

The New York Times: Local Laws Fighting Fat Under Siege
Several state legislatures are passing laws that prohibit municipalities and other local governments from adopting regulations aimed at curbing rising obesity and improving public health, such as requiring restaurants to provide nutritional information on menus or to eliminate trans fats from the foods they serve (Strom, 6/30).

Kansas Health Institute:  Legislative Leaders Approve Interim Studies
State legislative leaders today approved 13 topics for study by interim committees that will meet during the summer and fall, including a review of the options for a Kansas health insurance exchange and the potential cost-effectiveness of providing dental benefits to adult Medicaid beneficiaries (Shields, 6/30).

Modern Healthcare: Colo. Exchange Appointees Spur Concern
Colorado's top elected officials have appointed four health insurance industry executives to its nine-member health insurance exchange board, raising concerns among consumer groups (Vesely, 6/30). 

Baltimore Sun: Controversial Baltimore Methadone Clinic Delays Opening
The operators of a proposed "open access" methadone clinic for heroin addicts, which promised treatment within 15 minutes, say they will delay the launch by 30 days to work out differences with state regulators. The clinic was to open July 5 from 6 p.m. to midnight, but state health officials said Turning Point in Northeast Baltimore did not have approvals and would possibly violate federal laws by skirting some examination requirements for drug treatment (Cohn, 6/30)

Boston Globe: Panel Urges Access To Criminal Records At Group Homes
An advisory panel, formed after a group-home resident in Revere allegedly killed his counselor in January, recommended yesterday that workers at such facilities should have access to client's criminal records in some cases. The recommendation was one of 17 put forward by the group, which included mental health professionals and advocates and was started after the death of Stephanie Moulton of Peabody, 25. The panel was formed to evaluate safeguards for residents and staff at mental health centers operated by, or under contract with, the state (Andersen, 7/1).

Denver Post: Colorado Agency Loses Records
The state Department of Health Care Policy and Financing has lost thousands of applicant names on a computer disk for the second time in a year, triggering a public notice under federal privacy rules. HCPF officials said the names of 3,590 medical-aid applicants were on the lost disk, though the data did not include dates of birth, Social Security numbers or other personal information that could lead to identity-theft cases. Some of the lost information includes health data protected under the privacy rules of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (Booth, 7/1).

Orlando Sentinel/Los Angeles Times: NASCAR Drivers Promote Banking Cord Blood At Florida Hospital Event
On a lawn beneath Florida Hospital's Walt Disney Pavilion, NASCAR drivers and their cars were on hand Thursday morning to promote a new program that banks umbilical-cord blood. Beyond the cars, cameras and festival atmosphere is a new partnership between the hospital and a group that collects and stores cord blood from new mothers for procedures that can cure as many as 70 diseases (Doughman, 7/1).

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