KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

State Highlights: Calif. Insurance Commissioner Skeptical Of Anthem-Cigna Merger; Mass. Retailers See Double-Digit Increase In Premiums

News outlets report on health issues in California, Massachusetts, Florida, Louisiana, Michigan, Tennessee, Washington and Illinois.

The Boston Globe: Health Insurance Premiums Rise By Double Digits For Retailers
Health insurance premiums are rising by double digits for thousands of Massachusetts retailers and their employees. The Retailers Association of Massachusetts, a trade group, said a survey of its members found that insurance rates are jumping by an average of 11 percent. The increases will kick in April 1, when many retailers and other small businesses renew their health insurance coverage. (Dayal McCluskey, 3/30)

The Tampa Bay Times: Criticized For HIV Spike, Florida Takes Hundreds Of Cases Off The Books
State lawmakers blasted the state surgeon general in January for cutting staff and spending at a time when new HIV cases were spiking in Florida. A month later, the Florida Department of Health quietly revised its figures. The department's division of disease control lowered the number of new HIV cases logged in 2014 from 6,147 to 4,613 — erasing one in four new infections from the rolls that year, state records show. (McGrory, 3/26)

The Associated Press: Report Targets Louisiana Jails For Inadequate HIV Care
Louisiana's locally-run jails fail to provide inmates with proper HIV testing and treatment, in a state with some of the highest HIV infection rates in the country, according to a report released Tuesday by the National advocacy group Human Rights Watch. Megan McLemore, author of the 70-page report and senior health researcher with Human Rights Watch, called Louisiana "ground zero" for nationwide HIV and incarceration issues from the steps of the Capitol Tuesday. (3/29)

The Tampa Bay Times: Lawmakers Overhaul System To Create 'No Wrong Door' To Mental Health Treatment
Something Judge Steve Leifman said in his Miami courtroom made the psychologist standing before him snap. Those aren't my parents, the psychologist — who had been calm moments earlier — screamed, pointing out the man and the woman in the back of the room who had raised him, sent him off to Harvard and worked to find him the help he needed. My parents died in the Holocaust. Those people were sent by the CIA. They want to kill me. (Auslen, 3/27)

The Associated Press: Flint Official: State Overruled Plan For Corrosion Control
Shortly before this poverty-stricken city began drawing its drinking water from the Flint River in April 2014 in a cost-cutting move, officials huddled at the municipal water treatment plant, running through a checklist of final preparations. Mike Glasgow, the plant's laboratory supervisor at the time, says he asked district engineer Mike Prysby of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality how often staffers would need to check the water for proper levels of phosphate, a chemical they intended to add to prevent lead corrosion from the pipes. Prysby's response, according to Glasgow: "You don't need to monitor phosphate because you're not required to add it."(Flesher, 3/30)

The Herald-Citizen: Chiropractor, Physician Accused Of Fraud
A Lenoir City chiropractor who operated a pain clinic in Cookeville, along with a Manchester physician, are named in a suit filed by the state of Tennessee and the federal government for allegedly defrauding Medicare and TennCare. The complaint states that Anderson believed that medical clinics had to have a physician owner, so he recruited several physicians to serve as the sham owners of the four pain clinics while Anderson, and later PMC, managed the clinics. According to the complaint, he was the true owner who controlled the pain clinics during the entire time they were in operation. (Militana, 3/28)

The Orlando Sentinel: New Service In-Home Blood Testing
A new company is aiming to make blood testing an on-demand, at-home service. Founded by a UCF graduate, CHEKD offers an array of blood tests on its Web site and allows consumers to choose a time, date and location for a blood draw, where a phlebotomist meets them. The results of the lab tests are provided on the Web site's secure portal. (Miller, 3/28)

The Chicago Sun-Times: Florida Extends Medical Marijuana Access To Terminally Ill Patients
Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill Friday, March 25, that will allow terminally ill patients to access medical cannabis to ease their suffering, as reported by the Sun Sentinel. The bill (HB 307) adds medical cannabis to the state’s “Right to Try Act,” which allows terminally ill patients to access experimental drugs that aren’t approved for general use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (Brosious, 3/28)

The Associated Press: Legislature OKs Vaping Regulation
Washington's Legislature has passed a bill that would create a number of regulations for companies selling vapor products such as requiring labeling that warns of the health effects of vaping. Senate Bill 6328 was approved by the House on a 74-20 vote Tuesday and will head to the desk of Gov. Jay Inslee. The bill defines vapor products to include e-cigarettes and other vaping devices, as well as the nicotine solutions that go into the device. (3/30)

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