KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

State Highlights: Backers Of An Ohio Drug Pricing Initiative File Suit To Force Action; Kansas Lawmakers Mull Physician Assistant Limits

News outlets report on health care developments in Ohio, Kansas, Louisiana, North Carolina, Illinois, Colorado, California and Georgia.

Kansas Health Institute: Kansas Legislators Discuss Physician Assistant Limits
A regulation change that will lift the cap on the number of physician assistants that Kansas doctors can supervise drew patient safety concerns from urban legislators Thursday. But one western Kansas senator said the change is vital for rural areas relying on physician assistants to make up for doctor shortages. (Marso, 1/7)

The Associated Press: Edwards' Health Chief Causing Unease For Anti-Abortion Group
A Louisiana anti-abortion group raised concerns Thursday about Gov.-elect John Bel Edwards' choice for state health secretary, saying Rebekah Gee "has troubling connections" to abortion rights organizations. Edwards, a Democrat who ran as an anti-abortion candidate, named Gee this week to lead the Department of Health and Hospitals. The health secretary oversees regulation of Louisiana's abortion clinics, a position that has been used by outgoing Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration to tighten restrictions on the facilities. (Deslatte, 1/7)

North Carolina Health News: Bipartisan Congressional Group Advocates For Primary Care
The election season of 2016 is just around the corner, and with the upcoming congressional elections North Carolinians can expect to see heated TV ads and political debates. But in the spirit of bipartisanship, a Republican North Carolina congressman has joined a Democratic congressman from the Northeast to launch a caucus to advance primary health care. (1/7)

The Chicago Tribune: Cigarette Tax Plan Brings Applause, Concern
State Rep. Ed Soliday's big proposed legislation for the year is intended to raise money for roads, but a portion of it has health advocates cheering and smokers concerned. Soliday's proposed bill is aimed at raising more revenue to take care of roads and transportation at the state level. Part of that includes diverting all of the gasoline sales tax revenue from the general fund to roads. (Schultz, 1/7)

The Associated Press: Partisan Spending Rift Divides Colorado Lawmakers, Governor
With Colorado's legislative session due to start next week, the main agenda item for Gov. John Hickenlooper seems dead on arrival, a sign that the state's partisan divides and unorthodox spending limits will continue to paralyze it in 2016. ... Hickenlooper wants lawmakers to reclassify about $750 million next year coming from a fee on hospital patients. The reclassification would remove that sum from Colorado's constitutional spending limits and allow the state to spend more money without asking voters, as would otherwise be required under the Taxpayers' Bill of Rights. (Wyatt, 1/7)

Los Angeles Times: Doctor Gets 9 Years In Prison For His Role In Glendale Clinic Fraud Case
A doctor who pre-signed thousands of blank prescription slips for a sham medical clinic in Glendale that defrauded Medicare and Medi-Cal of $9 million has been sentenced to nine years in federal prison, officials said. Kenneth Johnson, 49, was convicted in 2014 of fraudulently prescribing expensive antipsychotic medications, which were later used to generate $20 million in fraudulent billings to Medicare and Medi-Cal, according to the U.S. attorney's office. (Tchekmedyian, 1/7)

Georgia Health News: Community Paramedicine: Unclogging ERs By Helping People At Home
Community paramedicine can help resolve a problem in a person’s home or neighborhood before it gets worse. The goal is to reduce trips to the ER and often prevent some patients who recently were released from the hospital from having to be readmitted. The latter tactic can save a hospital money, because Medicare now penalizes facilities with high readmission rates. (Miller, 1/7)

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