KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

State Highlights: Cleveland Pre-K, Kindergarten Kids To Be Screened For Lead Poisoning; Iowa’s Federal Grant For Teen Pregnancy Prevention Slashed

Media outlets report on news from Ohio, Iowa, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, California, Oregon, Louisiana, Maryland and Virginia.

The Plain Dealer: Cleveland Pre-K And Kindergarten Students To Be Screened For Lead Poisoning By CWRU Nursing Students
Student nurses from Case Western Reserve University will soon start testing preschool and kindergarten-aged Cleveland school students for lead poisoning as part of a pilot program to bolster the dismal screening rates for the dangerous toxin. Startlingly few children -- only about a third-- who are at risk for lead poisoning in the Cleveland area are screened for lead, according to a 2015 analysis for The Plain Dealer by Ohio State University's Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity. (Dissell and Zeltner, 9/7)

Des Moines Register: Feds Cut $966,000 Annual Grant For Iowa Teen-Pregnancy Prevention
A program aimed at preventing teen pregnancy in western Iowa is in jeopardy because of a Trump administration decision to curtail federal money for such efforts. Like most of the country, Iowa has seen teen pregnancies become much rarer in recent years. In 2008, 33 of every 1,000 Iowa women ages 15 through 19 gave birth. By 2015, that rate had plummeted to less than 19 per 1,000. (Leys, 9/7)

Nashville Tennessean: Memphis VA Hospital Among 4 Under Tight Watch From Agency Officials
A veteran with diabetes and poor circulation checked into the Memphis VA Medical Center for a scan and possible repair of blood vessels in his right leg last year, but what he left with was a piece of plastic packaging that VA providers had mistakenly embedded in an artery. Doctors didn’t discover the 10 inches of tubing — used by manufacturers to protect catheters during shipping and handling — until the veteran had to have the leg amputated three weeks later. (Lowary and Slack, 9/7)

The Philadelphia Inquirer/Philly.com: Gov. Wolf Visits Philly's Planned Parenthood To Offer Support
Gov. Wolf, an advocate of Planned Parenthood, visited Philadelphia’s Elizabeth Blackwell Health Center  on Thursday to show his support for the work of the agency and its volunteers — and to send a not-so-subtle message to those who would disagree. “I think what you are doing is more important than ever before, and the need is great,” said Wolf, the state’s top Democrat, to a gathering of Planned Parenthood staff and volunteers after touring the Locust Street center. (Giordano, 9/7)

The Associated Press: Judge Opens Door For Lawsuit Over Girl Declared Brain Dead
A California judge ruled that a teen girl who was declared brain dead more than three years ago after a tonsillectomy may technically still be alive, allowing a malpractice lawsuit against the hospital to move forward and possibly setting up the family to have her care paid for if they succeed. Alameda County Judge Stephen Pulido ruled Tuesday that it’s up to a jury to determine whether Jahi McMath is alive, which would increase the damages jurors could award if they determine doctors at Children’s Hospital in Oakland botched a routine operation to remove the girl’s tonsils. (Elias, 9/7)

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Gwinnett Urine Lab Implicated In Bribery Scandal
A federal indictment filed in Tennessee claims a Gwinnett County urinalysis lab paid bribes and filed fraudulent Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement requests. The indictment filed in East Tennessee stems from an alleged network of “pill mills” in and around Knoxville that federal prosecutors say dispensed opioid pain medication to people who didn’t need it and stuck taxpayers with the bill for mandatory urine tests. (Joyner, 9/7)

KQED: Families Fight Closure Of Nursing Unit In San Francisco
Sub-acute nursing units treat patients with complex medical needs, such as tracheostomies, sometimes for months or even years. The patients don’t need as much care as a regular “acute” hospital patient, but do need a level of skilled nursing care that is difficult to provide at home. Richard, for example, has congestive heart failure and diabetes. St. Luke’s is the last hospital in San Francisco with a sub-acute unit, and parent company Sutter Health has plans to close it by the end of the year. (Klivans, 9/7)

The Oregonian: As Portland Air Improves, Rogue Valley Residents Lament Frustrating Conditions 
Portland's air quality dramatically improved Thursday thanks to westerly winds sweeping into the metro area, but those in Southern Oregonian are still feeling the burn, and not in a good way. Rogue Valley residents have spent the better part of the past month trying to stay indoors - shuffling from house to work and from work to grocery store -- to avoid the unhealthy and often hazardous air blanketing the valley. Prolonged exposure to the stagnant smoky haze is a recipe for headaches, burning eyes and scratchy throats, and potentially dangerous for those with heart or respiratory issues like asthma. Small children and the elderly could also be more adversely affected. (Theen, 9/7)

New Orleans Times-Picayune: New Orleans East Doctor Pleads Guilty To Running Pain Clinics As 'Pill Mills' 
A New Orleans doctor pleaded guilty Thursday (Sept. 7) to federal accusations that he ran a pair of New Orleans East clinics as "pill mills," illegally prescribing millions of dosages of oxycodone, fentanyl and other addictive drugs to patients--and to undercover government sources posing as patients, court records show. Dr. Frederick Floyd, 58, faces a mandatory term of 10 years in prison should the federal court accept his plea agreement on charges of illegally dispensing drugs and money laundering, according to the office of Acting U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans. He also faces a fine of up to $1.25 million and at least three years of supervised release following any prison time. (McKnight, 9/8)

Nashville Tennessean: Candidates For Tennessee Governor Split On Medical Marijuana
As Tennessee lawmakers begin discussions about possibly allowing medical marijuana in Tennessee, the top-tier candidates seeking to replace Gov. Bill Haslam have vastly different opinions. While legalizing medical marijuana in Tennessee has been brought up in the legislature several times in recent years, House Speaker Beth Harwell, who announced her run for governor in July, made headlines when she said she was open to the idea. (Ebert, 9/7)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.