KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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State Highlights: Battle Heats Up Over Florida’s Limits On Doctors’ Discussions Of Gun Safety; Calif. Lawmakers Likely To Vote Monday On Health Plan Tax

News outlets report on health issues in Florida, California, Washington, Colorado, Wisconsin, Ohio, New Hampshire, Nebraska, West Virginia and Connecticut.

The Associated Press: Battle Rages Over Florida Law Limiting Doctors' Gun Speech
As a pediatrician, Dr. Judith Schaechter can ask parents of her patients all sorts of questions regarding their safety and well-being: what the child eats, whether there's a backyard pool and whether the child gets enough sleep. Yet the question of whether there is a gun in the home is generally off limits. A Florida law bans routine gun questions even though eight children or teenagers are killed every day in the U.S. with guns, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2/27)

The Associated Press: California Lawmakers Weigh Revamped Health Insurance Tax
California lawmakers are expected to take action Monday on a tax package aimed at appeasing federal regulators and preventing a $1.1 billion funding hole in the state's health insurance program for low-income Californians. The state Senate and Assembly were expected to consider three bills that are the culmination of a special legislative session Gov. Jerry Brown called last year to adjust taxes on health insurance plans. (Noon and Cooper, 2/29)

The Associated Press: Bill Lets Addiction-Recovery Sponsors Avoid Civil Court Testimony
Several relationships — such as that of doctor and patient, attorney and client, priest and penitent — have legal protections that prevent information shared in such confidences from being used against them in court. A bill in Washington state would add a new testimonial privilege to that list for noncriminal cases: the relationship between sponsor and an addict in recovery. Senate Bill 6498, which would give legal protection to communications between a person in an alcohol- or drug-recovery program and their sponsor, passed the Senate on a unanimous vote earlier this month. The House Judiciary Committee approved the measure Friday, and it now awaits a vote by the full House. (LaCorte, 2/27)

The Denver Post: Surgical Tech's Case Exposes Multiple Failings In Patient Protections
Rocky Allen's long road of addiction passed through five hospitals, four states and a deployment in Afghanistan. One hospital said it found him swapping a doctor's fentanyl with a syringe of saline solution and informed the federal Drug Enforcement Administration. Another discovered him passed out on the floor and, upon testing him for drugs, found fentanyl in his system. A Phoenix hospital hired Allen three weeks after a nearby hospital fired him. All of this happened after he was court-martialed for fentanyl theft nearly five years ago as a surgical tech who had enlisted in the Navy. (Olinger and Osher, 2/28)

The Denver Post: Once Mental Illness Sets In, Family Struggled To Reach Michael Marshall
On a day more than 30 years ago when she answered the knock at her Five Points home, Brenda Marshall-Wright did not immediately recognize the beginning of an ordeal that would span decades of heartbreak and frustration. She saw only Michael Lee Marshall, at age 16 still her baby brother. He was dressed nicely, in a shirt and slacks — but Brenda, the oldest of five siblings, noticed he was wearing an expression that betrayed fear and confusion, bordering on sadness. (Simpson, 2/27)

NPR: Cleveland Clinic Performs First Successful Uterus Transplant In The U.S.
The Cleveland Clinic says it has performed the first uterus transplant in the United States. This opens up another possible path to parenthood besides surrogacy or adoption for U.S. women who do not have a uterus, or who have a uterus that does not function. The transplant happened during a nine-hour-long surgery on a 26-year-old patient, who the clinic did not identify. The clinic says the patient is in stable condition and that the transplanted uterus came from a deceased donor. (Kennedy, 2/26)

New Hampshire Public Radio: State Confirms Mumps Cases In Saint Anselm Students
New Hampshire health officials have confirmed several cases of mumps at Saint Anselm College. The Department of Health and Human Services says college officials reported last week that several members of its hockey team had symptoms consistent with mumps. The state says testing came back positive Friday for two members of the college’s hockey team; officials say three other students show symptoms of mumps as well. (Carlson, 2/29)

The Associated Press: State Shortage Leaves Gaps In Nebraska Prison Nursing Staff
Nebraska's prison system is facing a staffing crisis that it may not be able to overcome amid a statewide nursing shortage and the state's relatively low wages. The Nebraska Department of Correctional Services is struggling to fill 14 of about 65 nursing positions, including seven registered nurses, two nurse practitioners, two nurse supervisors and three licensed practical nurses. (Gronewold, 2/28)

The Associated Press: Authorities Charge West Virginia Couple In Cancer Scam
Authorities have arrested a West Virginia woman and her husband after officials say they scammed more than $82,000 from another couple by pretending the woman needed money for cancer treatments. The Herald-Mail of Hagerstown reports that 27-year-old Lee Anne McCauley has been arrested on charges including theft scheme and theft scheme conspiracy of $10,000 to $100,000. (2/29)

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