KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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State Highlights: Arizona’s Ambulance Wars; Conn. Budget Cuts Undo Investments In School Mental Health Services

Media outlets report on news from Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Washignton, Texas, Missouri, New York, Delaware, Ohio, Wisconsin and Maryland.

The CT Mirror: Budget Cuts May Erode Gains In School Mental Health Services
Since the horrific shooting of children and faculty at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012, Connecticut has made significant investments in school mental health services and specifically in identifying and treating victims of trauma. But with no state budget and school beginning in less than a month, many Connecticut districts may have to cut back on recently expanded mental health services or make room for them in their own budgets. (Werth, 8/11)

Miami Herald: A Mental-Health Facility 13 Years In The Making Is One Vote Away From Becoming Reality
Leifman, a Miami-Dade circuit judge who has spent much of his life working to change state laws for mentally ill inmates, will lead the effort to take the former South Florida Evaluation and Treatment Center and turn it into a state-of-the-art mental health diversion facility. If they meet certain criteria, people can be housed, treated and taught to manage their illnesses and their lives. (Bordas, 8/10)

Seattle Times: Investigators Find ‘Numerous’ Issues Related To Patient Safety At Swedish’s Cherry Hill Site
Hospital regulators have identified a wide range of recent troubles at Swedish Health’s Cherry Hill facility, including failures of oversight and “numerous” issues related to patient safety, according to records released Thursday. Federal officials said the Cherry Hill site will be terminated from the Medicare program in 90 days unless Swedish can bring itself into compliance on a couple of key issues. (Baker, 8/10)

San Antonio Press Express: Superior HealthPlan Scales Back Medical Supply Contract With Illinois Company After Complaint
Superior HealthPlan, which operates Medicaid and Medicare programs in Texas, is delaying its switch to a new medical supplier and notifying patients that they can choose another company for glucose monitors, catheters and other supplies. Superior originally awarded a sole source contract to Illinois company Medline starting on Sept. 1, but decided to delay the agreement until Oct. 1 after a San Antonio medical supplier sent a protest letter last month to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. (Pound, 8/10)

Kansas City Star: Hospital Firm Disputes Missouri Audit Alleging Billing Scheme
A Florida company is pushing back on a report from Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway’s office that says the company engaged in a $90 million billing scheme in the course of managing a small Missouri hospital. The audit, released by Galloway’s office Wednesday, found that Putnam County Memorial Hospital in north-central Missouri had accepted millions in questionable insurance payments for patients who were treated across the country. (Lowry, 8/10)

The Wall Street Journal: New York To Broaden Medical Marijuana Program
The state of New York is about to make it more convenient for patients to use medical marijuana. The drug will be available in lotions, lozenges, patches and chewable tablets for the first time this fall. Currently, patients have to use an inhaler, a vaporizer or ingest capsules. Smoking marijuana remains prohibited under the new rules. (Alfaro, 8/10)

The Associated Press: Police Continuing Probe Into Alleged Prescription Fraud
Delaware State Police say more arrests are expected in an investigation involving a Philadelphia woman accused of distributing fraudulent prescriptions for controlled substances. Police said Thursday that 49-year-old Annette Scott stole blank prescription pads from a Wilmington-area doctor’s office where she worked and forged the doctor’s signature. Investigators say she then distributed 23 prescriptions to several individuals, who would fill the prescriptions at area pharmacies and use their Medicaid insurance to pay for them. (8/10)

Columbus Dispatch: Pot Growers Worry Ohio Will Miss Deadline For Finished Product
Ohioans were promised medical marijuana would be available by September 2018, but that legal deadline is in jeopardy because the state is taking so long to review the applications of potential cultivators. ... That means the nascent cannabis industry will have only about 10 months to build growing facilities, grow and process a crop, go through inspections and permitting processes and get products in the hands of patients. (Keiper, 8/10)

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: OSHA Inspects Wisconsin Barrel Plant
The federal agency charged with workplace safety has opened an inspection of an industrial drum refurbishing plant in St. Francis — but only months after reports of dangerous working conditions and action by environmental regulators uncovered numerous violations. Inspectors from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration opened an inspection of Mid-America Steel Drum last week — on the same day the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel posted a story examining why the agency had inspected just one of six plants in the chain. (Diedrich, 8/10)

The Baltimore Sun: University Of Maryland Adds Inpatient Floors To Planned Midtown Tower
The University of Maryland Medical Center plans to add three inpatient floors atop a planned 10-story outpatient center at its Midtown campus, center officials said Thursday. The hospital is adding the floors in anticipation of future patient care needs and an expected expansion of services offered at the Midtown campus, according to Karen Lancaster, a spokeswoman for the center. (Cohn, 8/10)

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