KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

State Highlights: California Fines Hospital For Mistakenly Removing Patient’s Ovaries; Movement To Hire Ex-Offenders For Health Jobs Takes Off In States

Media outlets report on news from California, Minnesota, Ohio, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Texas and Florida.

Stateline: Matching Ex-Offenders With Hard-To-Fill Health Care Jobs
With unemployment falling and workers hard to find, a growing number of health care employers are following Johns Hopkins’ lead and giving people with criminal records a second chance — hiring them mainly into entry-level jobs in food service, janitorial services and housekeeping. Studies show that employees with records stay in their jobs longer and are no more likely to commit workplace crimes than hires without them. (Quinton, 4/19)

KQED: Judge Threatens To Fine California Prisons For Delayed Mental Health Treatment 
California prison officials could face hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines a day if they can’t comply with a federal court order to eliminate delays in treatment for the most severely mentally ill inmates. U.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller this week threatened to fine prison officials to get them to meet the terms of a 1995 settlement of a decades-old class-action lawsuit. (Pickoff-White and Small, 4/20)

The Star Tribune: Six Mumps Cases Confirmed At University Of Minnesota 
An outbreak of the mumps has sickened six students at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus, according to an e-mail sent to students and staff Thursday. Dr. Brooks Jackson, vice president for health sciences and dean of the medical school, said the cases had been confirmed by state health officials and that all of them “have been mild.” (Howatt, 4/20)

Chicago Tribune: Lurie Children's Hospital CEO Deals With Huge Demand For Services, Funding Woes 
Patrick Magoon never planned to stay in Chicago, and he never thought he'd work in hospital administration.Yet this month, Magoon is marking 40 years at Lurie Children's Hospital, including 20 as CEO. Instead of resting on his accomplishments over four decades, Magoon, 64, is working to gain state approval to add another 48 beds to the esteemed hospital. And he's continuing to advocate for pediatric patients as congressional Republicans talk of reviving their bid to replace the Affordable Care Act. (Schencker, 4/20)

Modesto Bee: Five Modesto Doctors Faces Charges In Broad Fraud And Kickback Scheme
Five Modesto doctors are among more than two dozen physicians, pharmacists, business owners and a physician assistant charged in a $40 million fraudulent medical billing and kickback scheme, authorities announced Thursday. State Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones and Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said a Beverly Hills couple are accused of masterminding a complex insurance fraud scheme of recruiting doctors and pharmacists to prescribe unnecessary treatment for workers compensation insurance patients. (Valine and Farrow, 4/20)

The Star Tribune: STDs Hit Another Record High In Minnesota In 2016 
Sexually transmitted diseases rose to another record high in Minnesota last year, with double-digit increases in syphilis and gonorrhea, two infections that can have severe health consequences if left undetected, state health officials said Thursday. The increases come at time when teen pregnancy rates are on the decline and the number of new HIV infections has fallen slightly — suggesting that sexually active Minnesotans are taking some precautions but lack awareness about the dangers of some commonly spread STDs. (Howatt, 4/20)

California Healthline: Hospital Ratings Sites Give Consumers Something To Go On
One in 25 patients develop an infection while in the hospital, according to federal estimates. Many of those infections and other medical mistakes are preventable. Nationally, an estimated 440,000 people die each year from hospital errors, injuries and infections. A recent report card from the nonprofit Leapfrog Group showed there’s plenty of room for improvement by California hospitals on a wide range of patient safety measures. Nearly half of the 271 California hospitals that were reviewed received a grade of C or lower. (4/21)

Los Angeles Times: University Of California Officials Will Ask Judge To Halt Alleged Health Fraud Scheme They Claim Stole Millions
The University of California is alleging that it’s uncovered a scheme that targeted hundreds of students through its student healthcare plan and cost the UC almost $12 million. In a complaint filed Thursday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, the UC said the scheme used information from more than 500 students enrolled in its systemwide Student Health Insurance Plan that allowed doctors to write fraudulent medical prescriptions. The UC is seeking a temporary restraining order hoping to halt the practice and the people behind it. (Landa, 4/20)

The Philadelphia Inquirer: Penn Health Professionals Pitch Med-Free Treatment Tweaks
High-tech, minute-by-minute tracking and care management clearly can improve patients’ medical treatment and recovery, project presenters testified this week at the University of Pennsylvania Health System’s annual Innovator Accelerator Pitch Day. Better crunching of big data and small weans patients off feeding tubes and out of intensive-care units more quickly, and makes sure they’re getting enough nourishment. Smarter apps connect them when needed with the most appropriate doctors and test trials, and look for signs of excess consumption of meds. Sharper tracking tools also send patients home sooner, significantly lower readmissions rates, cut whopping bills, and save lives. (Takiff, 4/20)

KQED: Decades Later, Industry And Regulators Fail To Clean Up Former Rocket Test Site
Santa Susana was founded in the mid-1940s at what was then the remote fringe of a largely rural San Fernando Valley. The laboratory developed and tested 10 nuclear reactors for the federal government and tested rocket engines for half a century. The 1959 meltdown was just one mishap in decades of pollution left by atomic research, the open-air burning of toxic wastes and thousands of NASA rocket engine tests. (Richard, 4/21)

Texas Tribune: FDA Officially Bans Texas' Attempted Import Of Execution Drugs 
Almost two years after Texas tried to import an execution drug from overseas, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ruled Thursday that the drug can’t be admitted into the United States. In July 2015, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice tried to import 1,000 vials of sodium thiopental, an anesthetic that the state has previously used in executions, but the FDA seized the drugs at a Houston airport and has held them ever since. (McCullough, 4/20)

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