KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Roundup: Abortion Opponents Weigh Strategy

Politico: The Big Abortion Fight That May Not Happen
Republican legislatures across the country are passing tough new anti-abortion laws - and while abortion rights advocates believe the new laws are unconstitutional, they're not rushing to court to stop them. The reason: There's a decent chance they'd lose (Kliff, 4/20).

The Connecticut Mirror: Disparity Called The Greatest Health Risk
The topic at a town hall meeting in Hartford Tuesday wasn't cancer, radiation or any other medical concern that frequently makes headlines. It was health disparities, the well-documented but less-often discussed differences in life expectancy, rates of chronic disease, infant mortality and other health outcomes that are linked to social, economic and environmental disadvantages. ... Prostate cancer disproportionately affects and kills African-American men, but influential studies of the disease have involved primarily Caucasian participants, making some doctors skeptical of applying their findings to African-American patients (Levin Becker, 4/20). 

Related, earlier KHN story: HHS Will 'Hold Ourselves Accountable' On Plan To Lessen Health Disparities - The KHN Interview (Carey, 4/18). 

The Associated Press: Court Reinstates Va. Mental Health Lawsuit
The Supreme Court says Virginia's advocate for the mentally ill can sue to force state officials to provide records relating to deaths and injuries at state mental health facilities (4/19). 

Richmond Times Dispatch: High Court Backs Va. Agency Probing Abuse Of The Mentally Ill
The U.S. Supreme Court has opened the door for an independent Virginia agency to sue the state to uncover abuse and neglect of people in state institutions for the mentally ill or developmentally disabled. The 6-2 decision on Tuesday for the first time allows a state agency to sue another arm of the state government in federal court to enforce federal law. ... The lawsuit seeks records in the deaths of a mental patient at Central State Hospital in Dinwiddie County in 2007 and a developmentally disabled patient at Central Virginia Training Center in Lynchburg in 2006 (Martz, 4/20).

Detroit Free Press: New Law To Let Health Care Providers Offer Compassion Without Fear Of Suit
Practicing medicine in Michigan means you can say you're sorry. Under a bill signed Tuesday by Gov. Rick Snyder, health care providers no longer have to fear that their apologies to patients for medical mistakes will be used against them in malpractice cases. The law, sponsored by state Sen. Jim Marleau, R-Lake Orion, was sought by physicians who said it will allow them to be more candid with patients (Christoff, 4/20). 

Kansas Health Institute News: Provider Tax Signed Into Law
Gov. Sam Brownback inked Senate Bill 210 on Monday afternoon, according to an aide. ... Like similar taxes that already exist for hospitals and nursing homes, this one is expected to result in more federal Medicaid dollars for the community-based programs (state's developmentally disabled) and was supported by program operators and advocates for the disabled. With the new law, local programs for the developmentally disabled would pay a 5.5 percent tax on their gross revenues. The tax, in turn, would be deposited in a state-administered fund and used to draw matching federal Medicaid dollars (4/19). 

The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune: Public Hospitals Employ New Ways To Cover Uncompensated Care
On a monthly average, East Jefferson General Hospital loses $3.2 million, or about 4 percent of its revenue, because of unpaid medical bills. To stave that loss, the Metairie hospital, along with West Jefferson Medical Center in Marrero and dozens of other public hospitals throughout the state, are taking advantage of new ways Louisiana plans to pay to care for low-income families left uncovered by government programs. The first of these programs, called the Low-Income and Needy Care Collaboration Agreement, asks private companies to pay the costs of services for low-income patients that public hospitals or the state once covered (Rainey, 4/19). 

The Texas Tribune: El Paso Hospitals May Be Allowed To Hire Docs
Hospitals in El Paso may soon get to independently hire physicians, dentists and other health care providers - a regional approach to lifting part of Texas' corporate practice of medicine ban. A bill by Sen. José Rodríguez, D-El Paso, passed by the Senate today, would enable the El Paso County Hospital District to directly employ medical professionals to compensate for the severe shortage of practitioners in the area. ... Physician groups have long worried allowing hospitals to hire doctors would endanger patient safety. But this session, hospitals in far reaches of the state have argued hard to lift the ban in their communities, because they've struggled to lure doctors who have the resources or desire to set up private practices (Aaronson, 4/19).

The Texas Tribune: Senate Approves Health Payment Reform
Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program could transition to a performance-based, rather than procedure-based, payment model, under bills the state Senate unanimously passed today. The bills, crafted by Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, would reward providers for healthy patient outcomes, rather than reimburse them solely for the number of procedures they perform. ... SB 7 initiates the pay-for-performance revamp, creating carrots for providers who develop efficient and better quality care, and sticks for wasteful providers and patients (Aaronson, 4/19).

Minnesota Public Radio: Dayton Hears Concerns Of Seniors Over Budget Cuts
Gov. Mark Dayton held a roundtable forum Tuesday to discuss the impact of the state budget on the elderly. Senior citizens and advocates for nursing homes and other senior services told Dayton that they were concerned that the budget cuts proposed by Republicans in the House and Senate would cause real harm. ... Dayton is also proposing cuts to senior services, but not as deep as Republicans (Scheck, 4/19). 

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