KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Highlights: Kansas Court Decision On Malpractice Cap Expected Today

News outlets report on a variety of health care topics in Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Oregon.

The Philadelphia Inquirer: Pennsylvania Health Secretary Avila Quits Corbett Cabinet
Pennsylvania Health Secretary Eli N. Avila, who became known in the Capitol for a dispute over an egg sandwich and other episodes, has quit his $146,500-a-year post in Gov. Corbett's cabinet. The governor announced the departure Thursday in a news release that said Avila, 52, was leaving to pursue "other interests" and was looking forward to spending more time with his family in New York (Couloumbis, 10/5).

Kansas Health Institute News: Court To Issue Long-Awaited Decision On Medical Malpractice Cap
Court officials today said the Kansas Supreme Court will issue (Friday) its long-awaited decision in a case challenging the constitutionality of a law capping the amount of jury awards to people harmed by medical malpractice.  Justices first heard the case of Miller v. Johnson in October 2009 and took the unusual step of rehearing it again in February 2011. At issue is a 25-year-old state law that limits damage awards for pain and suffering to no more than $250,000 (10/4).

Georgia Health News: Building Health Communities—For A Lifetime
By 2030, one of every five people in metro Atlanta will be 60 or older. It’s a statistic that has helped spark an initiative by the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) to bring more housing and transportation options – and healthy lifestyle features – to area communities. The goal is to make it possible for individuals to "age in place"’ – to stay in their communities throughout their lifetimes if they so desire (Miller, 10/4).

Chicago Sun-Times: Emergency Room Wait Times Down At Cook County Hospital
A trip to Stroger Hospital's ER might be a little less painful, now that staff there have cut the average wait time to see a doctor by about one third. In 2011, the average wait used to be nearly 3 hours, but this year it's down to almost 2 hours, according to Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle's office (Esposito and Dudek, 10/5).

(St. Paul) Pioneer Press: Minnesota Medicare Clients Could See Some Changes Going Into Enrollment Season
About 13,000 Minnesota Medicare beneficiaries might need to do some shopping in the coming weeks because of changes in the lineup of Medicare health and drug plans being offered in the state. The annual open enrollment season for Medicare health plans begins Oct. 15, and it's not unusual for some beneficiaries to face changes in health plan offerings, said Jean Wood, executive director of the Minnesota Board on Aging. The number of beneficiaries in Minnesota needing to shop for a new plan is up from last year, Wood said, but down from 2010 (Snowbeck, 10/4).

The Lund Report: Kaiser Bolsters Position As Oregon's Largest Insurer
Kaiser Permanente has bolstered its newly won lead as the state's top health insurer at the same time as long-time leader Regence BlueCross BlueShield has continued its slide. And while No. 3 PacificSource still has half the members of Kaiser and Regence, it enrolled more new members than anyone else in the state, according to reports on the first half of 2012 filed with the Oregon Insurance Division (Sherwood, 10/4).

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