State News: Calif. To Probe Hospital/Doctor Consolidations
News outlets report on a variety of health issues in California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon and Virginia.
The Wall Street Journal: Doctor, Hospital Deals Probed
California's attorney general has launched a broad investigation into whether growing consolidation among hospitals and doctor groups is pushing up the price of medical care, reflecting increasing scrutiny by antitrust regulators of medical-provider deals (Mathews, 9/13).
Los Angeles Times/Chicago Tribune: Chicago Teachers, School District Seem Closer To Ending Strike
Under the latest deal offered by Chicago Public Schools, evaluations of tenured teachers during the first year could not result in dismissal; later evaluations could be appealed; and health insurance rates would hold steady if the union agreed to take part in a wellness program (Doyle, Delgado and Hood, 9/14).
Virginian-Pilot: Cuccinelli Issues Warning Over Abortion Rules
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has threatened Board of Health members that they could be denied state legal counsel and have to pay for their own defense if they again disregard his advice about relaxing controversial abortion clinic rules and litigation ensues. That warning is spelled out in a memo Wednesday from the Attorney General's Office – the lawyer for state agencies and boards – obtained by The Virginian-Pilot days before a board meeting to reconsider regulations for the licensure of clinics (Walker, 9/13).
The Wall Street Journal: Cities' Revenue Keeps Shrinking
The skyrocketing costs of pensions and health care are also taking a toll on cities. Among the 324 cities surveyed, 77% said pension costs increased in 2012 from the previous year, and 81% said the same of health-care costs (Vara, 9/13).
CQ HealthBeat: Massachusetts Business Leaders Have a Message: A Health Care Law Can Work
A health care overhaul that brings business and politicians to the same table for debate, negotiation and ultimately successful legislation sounds like a deal forged in never-never land. But Massachusetts business leaders said at a forum at Georgetown University this week that it really did happen that way in their state, and that their 2006 law has been good for the business climate as well as the newly insured. "We were willing to compromise when we had to, without giving up on our core values," said Richard C. Lord, CEO of the Associated Industries of Massachusetts (Norman, 9/13).
(St. Paul) Pioneer Press: Minnesota: State Rolls Out Strategy To Address Prescription Opiate Abuse, Heroin
State officials announced Thursday, Sept. 13, a new strategy to deal with growing health and public safety problems involving prescription opiate abuse as well as heroin. One goal is to train physicians in the basics of addiction, opiate prescribing and alternative approaches to pain management, according to a report from the state Department of Human Services. The state also hopes to train a range of front-line professionals about prescription drug abuse, treatment options for opium addicts and how to reduce an opium overdose (Snowbeck, 9/13).
The Oregonian: Oregon Health Reforms Proceeding As Issues Arise, Lawmakers Told
A top state health administrator told lawmakers Thursday that reform of the state's Oregon Health Plan is proceeding quickly but not without issues, while some lawmakers questioned whether it is moving quickly enough. In laws passed in 2011 and 2012, lawmakers approved new provider organizations called coordinated care groups to rein the growth of state Medicaid spending. Since August, 13 of these groups have started up and three more are awaiting approval, meaning about 75 percent of the health plan's 650,000 members will be enrolled, Bruce Goldberg, director of the Oregon Health Authority, said in a joint meeting of the state Senate and House health care committees (Budnick, 9/13).