KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

State Highlights: Appeals Court Upholds Va. ‘Certificate Of Public Need’ Law; Hawaii Weighs Long-Term Care Benefit For Seniors

News outlets report on health care developments in Virginia, Hawaii, California, Florida, Delaware, Texas, Colorado and Missouri.

The Associated Press: Appeals Court Upholds Virginia Health Care Facility Law
A Virginia law that requires government approval for new or expanded health care facilities is constitutional, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday. A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously rejected a claim that Virginia's "certificate of public need" program impermissibly interferes with interstate commerce. (O'Dell, 1/21)

The Associated Press: Hawaii Could Be 1st To Start Long-Term Care Elderly Benefit
Hawaii lawmakers are introducing a bill that could make the state the first in the nation to offer long-term care benefits to seniors. Democratic Sen. Rosalyn Baker said during a legislative hearing Thursday that the bill would provide eligible seniors with a benefit of $70 per day for a year. The seniors could use the benefit to pay family caregivers, hire in-home aides and help offset the cost of safety equipment, like walkers and ramps. (Riker, 1/21)

The Sacramento Bee: Many Sacramento Children On Medi-Cal Going Without Dental Care
Low-income Sacramento children aren’t going to the dentist as much as they should, according to a report released Thursday. That’s despite a five-year effort to bring more dentists into Medi-Cal managed care plans, expand community clinics and educate families about the importance of dental care. In Sacramento County, only 40 percent of children on Medi-Cal managed care plans use the dental services they’re eligible for, compared to 52.5 percent statewide. (Caiola, 1/21)

The Miami Herald: Report: Miami-Dade To Face Tough Choices As Federal Funding For Uninsured Dwindles
Florida legislators, meeting this month in Tallahassee, are looking down the barrel of a healthcare financial crisis for the second consecutive year — and once again, Miami-Dade, home to the state’s largest number of uninsured residents and its busiest public hospital, Jackson Health System, stands to lose more than any other county, according to a report released Wednesday. In the report, Florida Legal Services, a nonprofit advocate of expanding coverage through the Affordable Care Act, sounds an alarm about a confluence of state and federal health policy decisions that are likely to strain the healthcare safety net, forcing local hospitals to compete for a dwindling pot of money and to make difficult choices about how to best meet the needs of the uninsured. (Chang, 1/21)

The Associated Press: In State Of State, Markell Seeks To Trim Health Care Costs
The rising cost of health care is Delaware's biggest financial challenge, Gov. Jack Markell said Thursday in his final State of the State address, and he said he will propose reforms to help rein in state spending. The two-term Democrat said the current cost trend is not sustainable for taxpayers, and that he will seek reforms to improve the long-term outlook for the state's health care plans while ensuring that state workers have access to high-quality care. (Chase, 1/21)

The Denver Post: Colorado Report Finds Mixed Results On Infections From Surgeries
If you need a hip replacement or colon surgery in Colorado, you have a relatively slim chance of picking up an infection in the hospital. Infection rates with breast surgeries, however, have been worse in Colorado hospitals than the national average for the past three years. Bloodstream infections in neonatal critical care units also have grown worse than the national average after being comparable to national rates the previous two years. Those are among the findings of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment's ninth annual report of health care associated infections. (Olinger, 1/21)

Stateline: State Prisons Turn To Telemedicine To Improve Health And Save Money
Most states have turned to telemedicine to some extent for treating prisoners — often in remote areas, where many prisons are located — because it allows doctors to examine them from a safe distance. It enables corrections officers keep potentially dangerous inmates behind bars for treatment rather than bearing the cost and security risk of transporting them to hospitals. And because more doctors are willing to participate, it makes health care more available for inmates. (Ollove, 1/21)

The Kansas City Star: HCA Appeals Order That It Pay $434M To KC Foundation
Health care giant HCA is contesting a Missouri court judgment that it must pay the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City $434 million. In papers filed this week with the Missouri Court of Appeals in Kansas City, HCA said the foundation lacks legal standing in its long-running dispute. (Bavley, 1/21)

The Kansas City Star: Northeast Joco Cities Consider Adding Mental Health Pro
A group of northeast Johnson County cities wants to give their police officers better resources when answering calls involving suicide attempts, substance abuse or other mental health issues. The cities of Leawood, Prairie Village, Mission, Merriam, Fairway, Westwood and Roeland Park are considering a proposal to contract with Johnson County Mental Health to provide a mental health professional for the group. This professional, called a “co-responder,” would be available to accompany officers on calls at any time of day. (Twiddy, 1/21)

NPR/KQED: Childhood Vaccination Rates Climb In California
Maybe it was last January's big measles outbreak at Disneyland that scared more California parents into getting their kids vaccinated. Or maybe health campaigns have become more persuasive. Or maybe schools getting stricter about requiring shots for entry made a difference. Whatever the reasons, childhood vaccination rates last fall went up in 49 of 58 counties in California, according to data released Tuesday by state health officials. (Aliferis, 1/21)

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