KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State News: N.J. Workers Rally Against Pension And Health Care Changes

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

National Journal: Report Details State-By-State Benefits Of Smoke-Free Laws
A million people would quit smoking, nearly 400,000 teenagers would never start, and more than 700,000 lives would be saved if the 27 U.S. states that don't have good antismoking laws would adopt them, the American Cancer Society projected on Wednesday. These 27 states would save more than $1.3 billion in medical bills alone over five years if they would adopt comprehensive smoke-free policies, the group's advocacy arm, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, found (Fox, 6/16).

The New York Times: Workers Swarm Trenton On Benefit Changes
Thousands of angry government workers swarmed New Jersey's Capitol on Thursday and some were briefly arrested, one day after Gov. Chris Christie and legislative leaders agreed to sharply increase the contributions public employees must make into their health insurance and pensions plans (Perez-Pena, 6/16).

The Associated Press: Benefits Bill Advances In NJ Over Labor Objections
New Jersey legislation requiring a half-million public workers to shoulder a larger portion of their pension and health benefits costs and restricting collective bargaining over health care picked up steam this week, despite howls of protest from organized labor and backroom infighting that splintered the state's Democratic Party (Delli Santi, 6/16).

Arizona Republic: State's High Court Asked To Halt Medicaid Cuts
Tens of thousands of Arizonans will be "irreparably harmed" if the state Supreme Court doesn't halt budget cuts that jeopardize their health care, attorneys said in a court filing Thursday. Three public-interest law firms are asking the high court for an injunction and speedy consideration of their May 23 request for a special action. That request seeks to overturn Gov. Jan Brewer's plan to freeze enrollment in the state's Medicaid program, effective July 1, for some adults who earn less than the federal poverty level, a group voters agreed should have health coverage (Reinhart, 6/16). 

Texas Tribune: House Tentatively Approves Prisoner Health Care Fee
The House today gave early approval to a bill that would require Texas prisoners to pay $100 a year for health care. Current law requires inmates to make a copayment of $3 per doctor visit. HB 26, by state Rep. Jerry Madden, R-Plano, seeks to offset some of the prison health care costs that taxpayers now absorb by requiring inmates in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to pay an annual fee of $100 if they use prison medical services (Makris, 6/16). 

California Watch: State, Hospitals Spar In Court Over Public Reports On Surgery Infections
The state attorney general's office filed legal documents this week arguing that hospitals are required to file monthly reports on infections related to 29 types of surgeries, defending a legal challenge from the California Hospital Association. The legal filing was the latest in a skirmish between the hospital association and state health authorities over the enactment of a 2008 state law that requires hospitals to file detailed reports on infections that arise after surgeries. Hospital-acquired infections kill an estimated 12,000 Californians each year (Jewett, 6/16). 

The Denver Post: Colorado Nonprofit To Sell Its Share Of Hospital Group To For-Profit HCA
The Colorado Health Foundation is selling its share of the metro area's largest hospital group for $1.45 billion, giving up control to a giant for-profit chain while creating the largest charity in the state. Hospital Corporation of America will pay cash for the foundation's 40 percent interest in a hospital collection that includes Swedish, Presbyterian/St. Luke's, Rose, Sky Ridge and more (Booth, 6/16). 

Minnesota Public Radio: Campaign Begins To Create Hospice For Minn. Children
Most children in Minnesota with terminal health conditions die either in the hospital or at home. Even though the hospice movement has been growing in recent years and Minnesota has 15 residential hospice homes for adults, there are none in the state for kids. Katie Lindenfelser, a Coon Rapids therapist, wants to change that (Benson, 6/16). 

Mercury News: El Camino Hospital Slammed By Grand Jury For Lack Of Transparency
A Santa Clara County civil grand jury report released Thursday slams Mountain View's El Camino Hospital for a lack of transparency about how it spends taxpayer money. While El Camino is a private nonprofit corporation, it receives between $5 million and $9 million per year from a 1 percent property tax, according to hospital spokeswoman Chris Ernst. In addition, voters passed a $148 million bond measure for hospital facilities in 2003. The taxpayer money is administered by the El Camino Hospital District, an oversight group made up of a publicly elected board of directors (Samuels, 6/17). 

The Miami Herald: Miami-Dade Schools Police Bust Medical Insurance Bogus Billing Scheme
A medical clinic owner and two Miami-Dade school bus drivers have been arrested for allegedly conspiring to bill the district's health insurance for phony medical procedures in a scheme that cost taxpayers at least $1 million. More people will likely be arrested soon, law enforcement and schools authorities said Thursday at a press conference (Ovalle, 6/16). 

The New York Times: Concern For Vast Social Services Database On City's Neediest
Using data-sharing concepts developed by the Department of Homeland Security and other law enforcement agencies, the database links together vast amounts of information gathered by city agencies that previously maintained their files separately. Now, workers in an array of city departments will have access to information about nearly half of the city's residents, including welfare and food stamp payments, child care vouchers, and records of Medicaid enrollment and stays in public housing and shelters, among other kinds of social service records (Hartocollis, 6/16).

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