KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

State Highlights: Conn. Hospitals Complain About Hefty Hidden Tax In Gov.’s Budget; Wis. State Workers Would Have Fewer Choices Under Health Coverage Proposal

Outlets report on news from Connecticut, Wisconsin, Virginia, Florida, Colorado, Georgia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Ohio.

The CT Mirror: Hospitals Say They Face Hidden, $156M Tax Hike In Malloy Budget 
Connecticut hospitals would pay $156 million more in state taxes over the next two years under Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s new budget — an increase Malloy did not report to legislators when presenting his biennial plan on Feb. 8, the Connecticut Hospital Association says. But the administration, which has had a rocky history with the industry, says hospitals only would owe more taxes if they are making more money. (Phaneuf, 2/27)

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Proposed Plan Would Revamp Health Benefits Program For State, Municipal Workers
A proposed plan to revamp how the state provides health benefits for its employees would sharply limit their choice of health plans but could save the state an estimated $60 million in the next two-year budget... The proposed changes would not result in reduced benefits, according to the board. However, roughly 2% of the people now covered by the state health benefits program would have to change doctors. (Boulton, 2/25)

Richmond Times Dispatch: Case Sheds Light On Lack Of Oversight At Independent Living Facilities In Virginia
The family of a woman who was left unchecked for four days at an independent living facility in Albemarle County is hoping to shed light on what can happen at unregulated facilities. Diane Franklin, 75, who died of cancer last year, was residing at Commonwealth Senior Living’s independent living facility in Albemarle when she broke her clavicle in bed and found herself unable to move. The facility had a check-in system offered to independent residents, but Franklin was not checked on by staff for four days. (Wrabel, 2/26)

Denver Post: Grants Help Colorado Doctors In Rural, Low-Income Areas Repay Student Loans
A Colorado program that helps repay the student loans of doctors who work in rural or underserved areas is gearing up for what could be its largest grant class ever. The Colorado Health Service Corps will begin accepting applications for the new grants on March 1, and Steve Holloway, who oversees the program for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, said as much as $5 million could be available to repay loans for as many as 60 physicians and other providers. Already, Holloway said, the corps is the largest such state-based program in the country. The federal government funds a similar National Health Service Corps. (Ingold, 2/24)

Denver Post: Access To Birth Control Widens As Colorado Pharmacists Prepare To Prescribe Oral Contraceptives 
Colorado pharmacists soon can begin prescribing oral contraceptives under a new protocol that will provide unprecedented access to birth control in this state. Women who are at least 18 can complete a questionnaire, blood-pressure check and a 10- to 15-minute consultation with a pharmacist, then walk out with birth-control pills or patches, under new rules set in motion by a 2016 state law with bipartisan support. Colorado is just the third state with such access, joining Oregon and California. (Brown, 2/27)

Tampa Bay Times: In Harm's Way: What Could Florida Lawmakers Do To Keep Kids From Being Shot? 
Statewide, the number of children killed by guns has risen nearly 20 percent since 2010, a Tampa Bay Times analysis has found. Child gun injuries went up 36 percent. Not surprisingly, the solutions up for consideration this year differ radically along party lines. Democrats want to tighten the existing law that hold adults criminally liable when kids access their firearms, and increase the penalties. But the lawmaker with the most power over the matter has a different idea. (McGrory, 2/25)

The Baltimore Sun: Doctors Could Admit To Mistakes Without Facing Liability In Court Under Proposed Legislation
Wrestling with rising malpractice costs, hospital administrators want to see more cases worked out in the same manner and are pushing legislation in the General Assembly that they say would make it easier for doctors to acknowledge when a procedure or surgery goes wrong without that acknowledgment becoming admissible in court. They argue it would put more compensation in the hands of patients, rather than lawyers, and enable hospitals to develop treatment plans more quickly for patients. But a trial lawyers organization said such changes would leave patients in a vulnerable position, and call the proposal an attempt to keep such cases out of court and away from juries. (McDaniels, 2/26)

The Philadelphia Inquirer: Pa. Department Of Health Investigates Mumps Cases At Penn State
The Pennsylvania Department of Health said Friday that it is investigating confirmed and potential cases of mumps at Penn State University. It did not say how many students have been sick and added that it would release no further information "due to confidentiality reasons. "However, Shelley Haffner, infectious disease manager for the university's health center, said there have been five confirmed cases and 15 more are under investigation.  The first case was confirmed Jan. 29.  Cases have picked up in the last week. (Burling, 2/24)

The Star Tribune: HCMC, Nice Ride Partner On New Program To Help People With Mental Illness By Providing Free Bikes
A recent collaboration between the Nice Ride Minnesota bike share program and Hennepin County Medical Center is helping people deal with mental illness by giving them free bike memberships. The program, which starts its second year April 1, is part of a broader shift in mental health treatment to prescribe physical exercise for people with depression, anxiety or other mental illnesses. (Smith, 2/25)

Columbus Dispatch: State Rules For Medical Marijuana Use THC, Not Weight, For Purchase
Buying medical marijuana in Ohio will require a knowledge of THC content, not just how many ounces of plant material or edibles are on the scale. Proposed rules outlined Thursday by the Ohio State Board of Pharmacy would make Ohio the only state to determine how much medical marijuana can be purchased based on the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol — the active chemical ingredient that produces a high — it contains. (Johnson, 2/24)

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