KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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State Highlights: Conn. Medical Society Gets Impatient, Starts Own Health Information Exchange; Mo. Families Struggle With Home-Care Cuts

Media outlets report on news from Connecticut, Missouri, Ohio, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Texas, California, New Mexico, Oregon and Tennessee.

The CT Mirror: While Waiting For A State Health-Records Exchange, Medical Society Launches One
Frustrated that after 10 years of effort the state of Connecticut has yet to launch a functioning health information exchange (HIE) allowing physicians, hospitals and other health care providers to share patient medical records, the Connecticut Medical Society is offering one of its own. Available to all clinicians in the state and called CTHealthLink, it is based on a system currently used in Kansas. (Werth, 8/18)

The Associated Press: Missouri Families Struggle With In-Home Care Cuts
Lawmakers approved a one-time funding fix aimed at avoiding cuts to the in-home care program in May, but it was vetoed by Gov. Eric Greitens. The bill passed the House with 83 votes — 26 votes shy of a two-thirds majority needed to override a veto. Without the $35 million funding fix, the $27 billion state budget approved by lawmakers and signed by Greitens changes eligibility requirements for Missourians to qualify for in-home and nursing care services through Medicaid. Essentially, people are now required to display more severe disabilities to get state-funded care, a change that could eventually affect more than 8,000 Missourians. (Hancock and Montgomery, 8/18)

Cleveland Plain Dealer: Language For Contentious Issue 2 Prescription Drug Measure OK'D For Ballot
The Ohio Ballot Board approved language Thursday afternoon for how a prescription drug proposal will be presented on the Nov. 7 ballot, with no conflict between the sides lined up for and against Issue 2. Issue 2, if passed, would require Ohio to obtain the same discounts on prescription drugs as the prices obtained by the U.S. Veterans Administration - affecting an estimated 4 million Ohioans who get drugs in a range of state programs, such as Medicaid and state employee and retiree health care. (Hancock, 8/17)

Boston Globe: So Far, Compromise Eludes Mass. Alcohol Task Force
Key members of the state’s alcohol industry are tempering expectations that a task force reviewing Massachusetts’ booze laws will deliver sweeping reforms to how beer, wine, and spirits are sold and distributed in Massachusetts, saying it’s more likely to result in modest tweaks. ... The list includes a number of highly controversial policy questions that have long divided businesses, health advocates, and policy makers. (Adams, 8/17)

The Associated Press: Wolf's Insurance Chief To Take Over At Human Services Agency
Gov. Tom Wolf will nominate his insurance commissioner, Teresa Miller, to lead Pennsylvania’s Department of Human Services while he waits to see whether lawmakers will approve its merger with the Department of Health. Wolf made the announcement in an email to employees Thursday, and said the change in duties takes effect Monday. Wolf’s current human services secretary, Ted Dallas, is on medical leave. Wolf’s office says Dallas will take an advisory role to the governor when he returns to work. (8/18)

The Associated Press: Bloomberg Funds $2 Million In Ads Backing Soda Tax
Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is throwing his support behind a Chicago-area sweetened beverage tax by financing an ad campaign backing the levy. Bloomberg's charity announced Thursday that $2 million will be spent on television, radio and digital ads. The ads will contend the tax could help fight "the epidemic of childhood obesity and diabetes" and support Cook County hospitals and health programs. (8/18)

Cincinnati Enquirer: Training They Hope To Never Put To Use
Springfield Township is offering its residents a chance to get training so they would be ready to take care of neighbors and victims through the Community Emergency Response Team program. The training program trains volunteers to organize themselves and others at the disaster site, to provide immediate assistance to victims, and to collect disaster information to support responder efforts when help arrives. (Key, 8/17)

KCUR: Case Of Autistic Missouri Teen Who Was Tased After Stopping To Tie His Shoe Moves Forward 
A federal judge has given the go-ahead to a lawsuit filed by the parents of an autistic teenager who was shot multiple times with a Taser after he stopped to tie his shoe on the lawn of a Missouri Highway Patrol trooper. U.S. District Judge Fernando Gaitan this week denied dismissal motions filed by the five law enforcement officials named as defendants in the case by the parents of Christopher Kramer. (Margolies, 8/17)

Columbus Dispatch: Panel Briefed On Link Between Health And Academic Achievement
There is a strong link between education and student health, and Ohio is one of the least healthy states in the nation, representatives of the Health Policy Institute of Ohio told the Task Force on Education and Poverty, a panel designed to recommend ways to close a persistent achievement gap involving students in poverty. ... Neither state nor federal law requires schools to provide comprehensive health services to all students. (Siegel, 8/17)

The Washington Post: Elderly Couple Got ‘Deepest Wish’ — To Die Together — In Rare Euthanasia Case
In recent years, apparent double-suicides and murder-suicides have been capturing worldwide attention amid an emotional right-to-die debate — couples from Florida to Paris reportedly ending their lives together. Assisted suicide has summoned up deep religious and ethical concerns among critics. In the United States, the subject was widely debated in 2014, when a 29-year-old woman who had a fatal brain tumor moved from California to Oregon, where she could legally seek medical aid to end her life. California has since enacted its End of Life Option Act, joining a small number of states where it is legal. (Bever, 8/17)

Houston Chronicle: Houston Clinic Owner Sentenced In $17 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme 
The owner of a string of Houston home health care clinics was sentenced to 40 years in federal prison Thursday for a brazen scheme involving more than $17 million in fraudulent Medicaid and Medicare billing. "I'm not here to pass the buck," Godwin Oriakhi, who ran the five clinics, told U.S. District Judge Sim Lake before sentencing. "I never set out in any way to defraud the government." Defense lawyer Sean Ryan Buckley said prior to sentencing that Oriakhi did not live an opulent life but got caught up trying to pay expenses for his business. (Banks, 8/17)

NPR: Exclusive: Inside The Lab Where Scientists Are Editing DNA In Human Embryos
Mitalipov and his international team electrified the world this summer when the group announced it had successfully — and seemingly safely — figured out how to efficiently edit the DNA in human embryos. For the first time, they said, they had corrected a mutation that causes a potentially fatal heart condition. (Stein, 8/18)

St. Louis Public Radio: Secret Sedative: How Missouri Uses Pentobarbital In Executions
Missouri will use two of its 34 vials of the sedative pentobarbital on Tuesday when it executes Marcellus Williams, who was convicted in the 1998 killing of Felicia Gayle, a former St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter. The state has enough pentobarbital for 17 executions, Williams’ included, according to a document obtained by St. Louis Public Radio. (Hunzinger, 8/18)

Los Angeles Times: Married Alhambra Couple Sues Employer, Saying Insurance Was Revoked Because They're Gay
An Alhambra couple has filed a federal discrimination lawsuit against a former employer, alleging the company refused to provide spousal health insurance coverage because of their sexual orientation and rescinded previous coverage, leaving them with tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills. Judith Dominguez, 59, began working as a loan originator for Colorado-based Cherry Creek Mortgage at a branch office in Diamond Bar in 2016 and enrolled herself and her wife, Patricia Martinez, 55, in the UnitedHealthcare plan offered by the company. The couple had been covered for most of the year when, in November, Dominguez submitted her annual re-enrollment “employee + spouse” forms. (Branson-Potts, 8/17)

The Associated Press: 61-Year-Old Farmington Man Dies From West Nile Virus
Farmington officials say a resident of the northwestern New Mexico city has died of the West Nile virus, making him the first human fatality of the mosquito-borne disease in the state this year. Officials say it’s not known how the 61-year-old man contracted the virus and the city says it has an aggressive mosquito control program that includes treatment of standing water and weekly spraying at night. (8/18)

The Associated Press: Lawsuit: Birth Control For Sentencing Breaks Violated Rights
A Tennessee sheriff and judge violated the constitutional rights of jail inmates by promising to reduce their sentences if they underwent birth control procedures, an ex-inmate says in a federal lawsuit. Christel Ward was among the misdemeanor-level White County Jail inmates who took the deal, according to the lawsuit. She said Thursday that she still has the unwanted birth control device in her arm that authorities injected in her. “I want this out of my arm, and I’m still not allowed to get it out until I pay,” Ward said at a news conference. “I can’t come up with $250 to get this out.” (Mattise, 8/18)

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