KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Roundup: Calif. Hospitals Fined For Errors; Va. Dental Health Concerns

News outlets report on a variety of state health policy issues.

Georgia Health News: Grady, Fresenius Reach Deal On Dialysis
Grady Memorial Hospital and Fresenius Medical Care have reached a basic agreement on providing dialysis services for 22 immigrants whose regular treatment ended last week. ... The Grady spokesman, Matt Gove, said that under the new deal, Grady will help cover the cost of dialysis for the patients, who up until two years ago were regularly treated at the hospital's outpatient facility (Miller, 9/7). 

The Associated Press/Atlanta Journal Constitution: Atlanta Providers Reach Deal On Indigent Dialysis
Atlanta's safety net hospital on Wednesday reached an agreement with a private dialysis provider to continue treating a group of indigent patients, some of whom became critically ill after their life-sustaining treatment was cut off last week when a previous contract expired. Grady Memorial Hospital will pay Fresenius Medical Care to treat the nearly two dozen patients, but the details were still being worked out and the amount paid and length of contract were not immediately available, said hospital spokesman Matt Gove. Regular dialysis treatment can resume at Fresenius clinics immediately, said company spokeswoman Jane Kramer (Brumback, 9/7).

Los Angeles Times: 12 Hospitals Are Fined Over Medical Errors
State public health officials have fined 12 California hospitals for medical errors that hurt or killed patients, according to a report released Wednesday. Three of the hospitals — L.A. County/USC Medical Center, Torrance Memorial Medical Center and Brotman Medical Center — are in Los Angeles County (Gorman, 9/8).

The Washington Post: Lower-Income Northern Virginians Struggle To Get Dental Care, Report Finds
In Northern Virginia, 16 percent of lower-income adults have not gone to a dentist in more than five years, according to a report that looks at disparities in oral health in one of the most prosperous regions in the country. Among lower-income adults who have health coverage, only one-fourth have coverage that includes dental care, compared to 64 percent for higher-income adults (Sun, 9/8).

The Boston Globe: Sale Of 2 Hospitals Wins AG's Approval
Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley yesterday signed off on the sale of a pair of nonprofit community hospitals, Morton Hospital in Taunton and the bankrupt Quincy Medical Center, to the for-profit hospital chain Steward Health Care System. But Coakley imposed multiple conditions on the deal that are meant to safeguard patients and employees of the financially struggling hospitals. They included a guarantee that Boston-based Steward will not sell either one for at least five years, that it will keep making capital improvements after five years, and that it will continue providing in-hospital psychiatric beds and other services of at least the same scope that the Taunton and Quincy hospitals now offer (Weisman, 9/8).

Kansas Health Institute News: Kansas City Regional HIE To Dissolve
The Kansas City regional health information exchange, eHealthAlign, will be dissolved, according to a letter released Tuesday from Dr. Laura Fitzmaurice, chair of the exchange's board of directors. ... [Scott Lakin, director of the Mid America Regional Council (MARC) one of the partner groups] said there was no longer a need to get providers connected through eHealthAlign, thanks to statewide information exchanges being developed in Kansas and Missouri (9/7). 

California Healthline: Bill To Create Basic Health Program Delayed
The two biggest health care bills this year will have to wait till next year. First it was AB 52, the bill to regulate health insurance rate hikes, that did not make it out of appropriations committee, and will wait till 2012 to be heard again. And now it's SB 703 by Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina), which would establish a Basic Health Program in California. ... [John Ramey, executive director of Local Health Plans of California] said the extra time is necessary to get people to understand just what the Basic Health Program would do -- and what it won't do, he said (Gorn, 9/7).

The Seattle Times: State Insurance Commissioner Raps Regence — Again
Regence BlueShield, (Washington's) largest health insurer, is on the hot seat again with state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, who has ordered it to correct what he says is "an ongoing pattern of errors and problems" affecting tens of thousands of consumers. Kreidler says the problems, which affected Regence's subsidiaries as well, include: Medical claims of 90,000 retirees that have gone unpaid for months, totaling as many as 300,000 individual claims (Ostrom, 9/7).

The Associated Press/Houston Chronicle: Judge Blocks State's Medicaid Reform Plan
A state judge has issued a temporary restraining order blocking the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals from implementing its plan to shift more than 800,000 Medicaid recipients and their $2.2 billion in claims to private insurers. District Judge Janice Clark on Tuesday granted Aetna Inc.'s request to block the plan. Aetna is protesting the state's selection of three firms — Louisiana Healthcare Connections Inc., a subsidiary of Centene; Amerihealth Mercy of Louisiana Inc.; and AmeriGROUP Louisiana Inc. — to run networks that will be paid a monthly fee for each Medicaid recipient, and will negotiate payments with health providers (9/7).

The Associated Press/Houston Chronicle: Democrats, Others Propose Health Care Changes
A pair of (Wisconsin) Democratic lawmakers and more than 20 health care advocates and others are proposing putting into state law numerous protections included in federal law. The proposal unveiled Wednesday would prohibit insurers from denying coverage based on a pre-existing condition, remove annual and lifetime benefit caps, and guarantee preventative care without co-pays and deductibles (9/7).

Modern Healthcare: Minn., Wash., Ore. Tops In Long-Term Care, Report Says
Minnesota, Washington and Oregon provide the best long-term services and support for older adults, people with physical disabilities and family caregivers, and Mississippi provided the worst followed by Alabama and West Virginia, according to a new state scorecard report from the Commonwealth Fund, AARP and the Scan Foundation. The scorecard, called Raising Expectations, is designed to create a baseline for improvement in long-term care across all states, according to authors of the report, speaking at a teleconference (Barr, 9/8).

(Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.) Pioneer Press: Mayo Gets $20M To Study Care Delivery
Two longtime benefactors have given Mayo Clinic $20 million to help fund its Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery. Robert and Patricia Kern's money will help the center's mission of creating, evaluating and implementing new approaches to deliver improved health care. The center will focus on analyzing data, conducting research and engineering care-delivery systems to find best practices in diagnosis, treatment and care of patients, according to Mayo Clinic officials (9/7). 

New Orleans Times-Picayune: New University Medical Center Would Incur No State Debt In Latest Plan
A private health care consultant has recommended that the new University Medical Center, the Charity Hospital successor, be a $1.09 billion project constructed without assuming any state debt, a model that would reduce the long-projected price tag by almost $200 million and farm out part of the construction cost to a third party. The plan ...  projects an average annual state appropriation of $52.5 million during the first six years of operation  (Barrow, 9/7).

Health Policy Solutions (a Colorado news service): Top Health Trends: Quarter Million Won't Be Insured
More than 800,000 Coloradans currently do not have health insurance and while that number is expected to drop dramatically under health reform, as many as 250,000 Coloradans could remain uninsured even after the Affordable Care Act is implemented. [Michele Lueck, president and CEO of the Colorado Health Institute, a nonpartisan health policy research center said that] .... undocumented immigrants, transient people and even some reform opponents who refuse to buy health insurance, will remain uninsured (McCrimmon, 9/7).

HealthyCal: How California Ranks On Long Term Care And Support
Compared to other states, California is doing a relatively good job helping disabled and aging adults cope with the challenges they face living independently or in a long-term care facility, according to a new, comprehensive scorecard of long-term care services in the United States. California ranked 15th overall among the states based on its performance on 25 indicators in the study by the AARP released today  (Weintraub, 9/8).

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