KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Highlights: Fla. Passed Up $200M Because It Comes From Health Law

News outlets report on health care policy news from California, D.C., Florida, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Texas and Washington.

The Washington Post: D.C. Council Member Catania Comes Up With $20M For Health Coverage For Illegal Immigrants
D.C. Council member David A. Catania has found an additional $20 million in the budget to continue offering free health insurance to 19,000 undocumented immigrants, reversing a proposal by Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) that could have restricted them from receiving emergency care. Catania (I-At Large) … has made full funding of the Alliance Insurance program a chief priority as the council prepares for final budget deliberations (Craig, 5/3).

The New York Times: Settlement Money Patched Nassau County Budget Gaps
The hundreds of millions of dollars in tobacco bonds issued by Nassau County, N.Y., illustrate both the perils in forecasting tobacco cash flows over decades and a reluctance to use the money for its original intent (Williams Walsh, 5/3).

(St. Paul) Pioneer Press: Twin Cities Postal Personnel Part Of Emergency Medication Delivery Test
In a simulated exercise, postal personnel will deliver empty medicine bottles to 37,000 residences in St. Paul and elsewhere as part of "Operation Medicine Delivery" on Sunday, May 6. The exercise will test the nation's plan to use postal personnel to deliver emergency medication in the event of a large-scale airborne anthrax attack, the Minnesota Department of Health said (Gervais, 5/3).

Health News Florida: FL Passed Up $200M For Kids
Over the past two years, Florida did such a good job of enrolling uninsured children in KidCare that the state could have qualified for as much as $200 million in federal bonuses – money that could have helped get more children into care. But the state did not take the steps required to get the money because the bonuses are part of the Affordable Care Act, which Florida Gov. Rick Scott and the Legislature oppose (Gentry, 5/4). 

The Texas Tribune: UT Regents Back Some Tuition Hikes, New Med Schools
UT regents today also committed to developing medical schools in Austin and South Texas. The plan to build an Austin-based medical school will receive up to $30 million a year from the state's Available University Fund, as long as UT-Austin can raise $35 million annually and continues to receive support from the Seton Healthcare Family, a Central Texas healthcare provider (Park, 5/3). 

Minnesota Public Radio: Investigation Finds Emotional Abuse, Neglect At Duluth Group Homes
State licensing officials are scrutinizing a Duluth company that runs four group homes for adults with mental illness, after a client turned over a 64-minute audio recording of an employee berating clients and a state investigation found the facility neglected two clients in the hours leading up to their deaths (Baran, 5/4). 

Boston Globe: Blue Cross Cuts Rate Request For Small Business, Individuals
Average base rate health insurance premium increases for small business and individual policies renewing in the third quarter have been revised to 0.7 percent -- even smaller than the 1.2 percent average reported earlier this week, Massachusetts regulators said Thursday. The downward revision came because Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, the state's largest health insurance company, refiled its rate request in the so-called small-group market, which serves small companies along with self-employed and formerly uninsured individual policy holders (Weisman, 5/3).

Kansas Health Institute News: Money Will Help Counties Attack High Infant Mortality Rates
Two foundations will grant nearly $900,000 over five years to Kansas counties working to reduce infant mortality, members of the Blue Ribbon Panel on Infant Mortality were told today at their quarterly meeting. ... Kansas' death rate for all babies is 6.3 deaths per 1,000 live births. That's higher than the national average of 5.6. The state's death rate for black infants is the worst in the nation, at 19.6 per 1,000 live births (Cauthon, 5/3). 

KQED's State of Health blog: Rural California Hospitals Slow To Digitize
High in the Sierra in the town of Quincy, doctors at Plumas District Hospital are using iPads in the clinic. Technicians and nurses are also getting better acquainted with their new electronic health records (EHR) system. This 25-bed hospital has gone digital. ... but when it comes to the nitty-gritty of implementing an electronic system of medical records, change can be painful (Harris, 5/3). 

California Healthline: San Diego Barbershops Offer Shave, Haircut and Health Screening
In partnership with the San Diego Black Health Associates, the [Black Barbershop Health Outreach Program] will bring medical volunteers to African American-owned barbershops in Southeast San Diego, a community with the highest concentration of poverty and the largest percentage of ethnic minorities in the region. They will screen African American men for diabetes and high blood pressure, two diseases for which they are at higher risk than the general population (Zamosky, 5/3). 

Reuters/Fox News: Washington State On Track For Major Pertussis Epidemic
Public health officials in Washington state have confirmed more than 1,100 cases of whooping cough so far this year in what is on track to become the worst epidemic of the disease to hit the state in seven decades. … Governor Christine Gregoire made state emergency funds available on Thursday to help increase vaccinations against the disease and announced federal approval to redirect some funds to buy 27,000 more doses of vaccine for uninsured adults (5/4).

California Watch: Prime Hospital Cited For Violating Patient Confidentiality
The state Department of Public Health on Tuesday issued five "deficiencies" against Shasta Regional Medical Center for what were described as repeated breaches of patient confidentiality last year. At one point, the hospital CEO sent an e-mail to 785 people – virtually everyone who worked at the hospital – disclosing details from a 64-year-old diabetes patient’s confidential files, state investigators found (Williams, 5/4). 

The Associated Press/Kansas City Star: State Senator From St. Joe Blocks Prescription Drug Database
A Missouri senator who is a family physician succeeded Thursday in scuttling legislation that would have authorized a government database to track people's prescription drug purchases. Republican Sen. Rob Schaaf and his allies led an eight-hour filibuster against the legislation, soliciting supportive emails and faxes that they read aloud on the Senate floor. They outlasted other disinterested senators who went home and eventually triumphed over the bill's remaining backers. The result is that Missouri will remain one of just two states lacking the authorization for a prescription drug database (Lieb, 5/4).

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