KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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State Highlights: Calif. Ballot Initiatives To Impose Stricter Rules At Dialysis Centers Filed; Ariz. Faces Millions In Fines Over Prisoners’ Medical Care

Media outlets report on news from California, Arizona, New York, Massachusetts, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Florida, Tennessee, Maryland, Texas, Missouri, Kansas, New Hampshire and Georgia.

Los Angeles Times: While Dialysis Clinic Battle Brews At State Capitol, Healthcare Workers Look To The Ballot
Cracking down on clinics treating Californians with chronic kidney disease has been a top legislative priority this year for unions representing healthcare workers. Now they’re opening a new front in their crusade against the dialysis industry: the ballot box. Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers filed two initiatives with the state attorney general on Wednesday that, if they qualify, would appear on the November 2018 ballot. The union is seeking to impose stricter rules at dialysis centers for the staffing levels and how much they charge. (Mason, 8/9)

Sacramento Bee: Backers Of Dialysis Measure File Ballot Measure Proposals
SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West filed a pair of proposed November 2018 ballot measures Wednesday that would set staffing ratios at dialysis clinics and contain other provisions similar to pending union-backed legislation that faces an uncertain outcome in the Legislature. ...Besides setting rules on staffing levels, they would require annual inspections of dialysis clinics, require more recovery time for patients, and restrict how much patients can be charged. (Miller, 8/9)

The Associated Press: Maggot Case Gives Rare Look At Neglect Probes
In his bed at a New York state group home for the severely disabled, Steven Wenger lay helpless against a silent invader. A slimy, wriggling clump was growing around the hole in his throat near his breathing tube. Nurses peered closer and made a discovery almost unheard of in modern American health care: maggots. For Wenger, unable to walk, speak, or breathe without a ventilator since a car accident 26 years ago, it was the first of two infestations of the larval flies in his throat over successive days last summer, resulting in repeated trips to an emergency room and a state investigation that found days of neglect by caretakers. (Klepper, 8/10)

Boston Globe: Health Care Company Will Pay More Than $750,000 For Improper Billing, AG Says
Apria Healthcare LLC, a company that provides home health care services and medical devices, will pay more than $750,000 for directly billing state residents for services that are already covered by MassHealth, the state’s Medicaid program. Under the settlement announced Wednesday, Apria has agreed to pay $99,008 in restitution and $665,934 in penalties to resolve the allegations that the firm improperly billed consumers, Attorney General Maura Healey’s office said in a statement. (McDonald, 8/9)

Reuters: Oregon Bans Tobacco Sales To Under 21s, Matching Rules On Marijuana
Oregon is raising the minimum age for buying tobacco and e-cigarettes in the state to 21, bringing its regulations into line with sales of marijuana products. The new law, signed by Governor Kate Brown on Wednesday and taking effect on Jan. 1, bans under-21s from buying tobacco products and vaping devices, and makes vendors liable for fines for under-age sales. (O'Brien, 8/10)

The Philadelphia Inquirer/Philly.com: Penn Joins Program To Train Doctors To Make House Calls
The University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine has teamed with an Illinois-based nonprofit organization to expand the number of medical professionals trained to provide house calls to elderly and medically complex patients. The Home Centered Care Institute in Schaumburg is working with eight health organizations to train 5,000 doctors, physician assistants, and nurse-practitioners, as well as practice managers, over the next five years. Currently, the organization estimates that about 1,000 professionals are providing the bulk of in-home primary care in the United States. (Burling, 8/10)

Miami Herald: Drug Violations Costs 2 South Florida Nurses Their Licenses
Florida has stripped two health professionals of their licenses over involvement with drugs, according to the state Department of Health. Guillermo Delgado of South Miami-Dade, already stripped of his pharmacy technician license, also has lost his practical nurse license. Both actions follow his incarceration in federal prison in Miami. (Neal, 8/9)

The Baltimore Sun: 'Stop The Bleed' Campaign Comes To Baltimore Amid Record Violence 
Amid a violent year in Baltimore, the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center is spearheading a local initiative to teach health care workers and members of the public how to use critical care skills to stop life-threatening bleeding. The “Stop The Bleed” campaign began in 2015 as a national effort to provide bystanders with training for emergency situations, said Thomas Scalea, physician-in-chief at Shock Trauma. It was partly a response to an autopsy review of the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, which revealed about 30 percent of the children who died during the attack may have survived if pressure had been applied to their wounds. (Brice-Saddler, 8/9)

Houston Chronicle: Texas Begins Transfer Of 1,000+ Heat-Sensitive Inmates
A plain, white school bus left the Wallace Pack Unit under moonlit skies Wednesday morning, transporting the first group of more than 1,000 heat-sensitive inmates to cooler climes under federal court order. ...The predawn transit marked a major turning point in a legal battle over inmates’ living conditions at the Pack Unit that has played out in a 3-year-old civil rights lawsuit that has drawn national attention. (Banks, 8/9)

San Antonio Press-Express: San Antonio’s HVHC Selling Eye Division, Could Make Billions
San Antonio-based vision company HVHC is selling one of its business units and a minority stake in its second to private investment firm Centerbridge Partners in a deal that could be worth billions of dollars. HVHC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Pittsburgh-based Highmark Inc., will sell its managed vision care division Davis Vision Inc. to Centerbridge, a private investment management firm with offices in New York and London, according to a news release. (Druzin, 8/9)

KCUR: Audit Finds Tiny Missouri Hospital Served As ‘Shell’ For $90 Million Billing Scheme 
What began as a routine audit of Putnam County took an extraordinary turn when Missouri state auditors uncovered what appears to be a massive, fraudulent billing scheme in tiny Unionville, Missouri’s lone hospital. A report released Wednesday by Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway says that a private company hired to take over the financially strapped Putnam County Memorial Hospital arranged for more than $90 million in questionable lab billings by the hospital. (Margolies, 8/9)

The Associated Press: Texas Doctor Gets 35 Years In Prison For $375M Medical Fraud
A 60-year-old Dallas-area doctor has been sentenced to 35 years in prison for helping defraud Medicare and Medicaid out of almost $375 million. A federal judge also ordered Dr. Jacques Roy on Wednesday to pay more than $268 million in restitution. A jury in April 2016 convicted the Rockwall physician of nine of 10 counts of defrauding a health care benefit program. (8/9)

San Francisco Chronicle: SF Gets Federal Lot On Mission, To Build Units For Formerly Homeless
A surface parking lot behind the federal courthouse at Seventh and Mission streets in San Francisco will become the site of the city’s largest housing development for formerly homeless people, thanks to a deal struck this week between city officials and the federal government. The city will lease the parking lot for three years while it pulls together the funding and irons out construction logistics for the development, which will house 250 units in two separate buildings. (Fracassa, 8/9)

KCUR: Kansas City Physician Daphne Bascom Takes On YMCA Community Health Position 
Dr. Daphne Bascom is the first physician on staff at a YMCA anywhere in the country. As senior vice president for community integrated health, she's leading the YMCA of Greater Kansas City into a new future. "What we can do at the Y is help focus on prevention and help engage all of the services that are a part of our community," Bascom said in an interview with Gina Kaufmann on KCUR's Central Standard. (Tufts, 8/10)

Concord Monitor: Study Gives N.H. Poor Score On Policies To Ensure Athletes’ Safety In High Schools
New Hampshire was among the 10 worst states in a national ranking of policies to prevent death and catastrophic injury among high school athletes, partly because many programs, equipment and training are not required statewide. The ranking, released this week by the Korey Stringer Institute at the University of Connecticut, puts New Hampshire 44th out of the 50 states and the District of Colombia. (Brooks, 8/10)

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Student Mental Health Key For School Success
DeKalb County schools officials realize that returning to classes often means the return of anxiety and stress for students that can lead to problems as serious as depression and suicide, which is the second-leading cause of death for teenagers. That’s why the district hosted a mental wellness rally before school started for students and parents helped put some tools in their hands to make it through the school year. (Eldridge, 8/9)

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