KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

State Highlights: Mass. Closes Psychiatric Hospital Citing ‘Critical Safety Issues’; N.Y. To Become Most Expensive Place To Buy Cigarettes

Media outlets report on news from Massachusetts, New York, Iowa, California, Florida, Kansas and Maryland.

The Associated Press: NYC Hikes Price Of Pack Of Cigarettes To $13, Highest In US
The price of a pack of cigarettes in New York City is going up — to at least $13 — and the number of places you can buy them is going down under legislation signed Monday by the mayor. The new minimum price law, which takes effect on June 1, will make New York the most expensive place in the U.S. to buy cigarettes, Health Department officials said. (8/28)

Des Moines Register: Transgender Prison Nurse Sues State Of Iowa
A transgender nurse who worked at the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women filed suit Monday against multiple state departments as well as the prison's former warden and a health insurance company alleging discrimination based on his gender identity. Jesse Vroegh, 36, is suing the Iowa Department of Corrections, the Iowa Department of Administrative Services, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Patti Wachtendorf, the previous warden at the women's prison in Mitchellville, where Vroegh worked as a nurse for about seven years. Vroegh's suit claims all four entities treated him differently than other male employees solely because he is transgender. (Crowder, 8/28)

California Healthline: Calif. Hits Kaiser With $2.2 Million Fine For Failing To Provide Required Medicaid Data
California officials have again slapped health care giant Kaiser Permanente with a multimillion-dollar fine for failing to provide data on patient care to the state’s Medicaid program. The $2.2 million fine comes just months after a $2.5 million penalty in January against Kaiser, one of the largest nonprofit health plans in the country. The California Department of Health Care Services said these are the first fines it has imposed against a Medicaid managed-care plan since at least 2000. (Terhune, 8/28)

Georgia Health News: ‘An Opportunity To Give Back’ For New Chief At Public Health
By age 75, most people have nestled into retirement, taking it easy. Not Dr. Patrick O’Neal. A physician for almost 50 years, he has been interim commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health since Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald left the commissioner’s post to become director of the CDC. And while O’Neal is slated to resign as interim chief when a new governor takes office in 2019, he hopes to continue in his position as the agency’s director of Health Protection. (Miller, 8/25)

Miami Herald: UHealth CEO Dr. Steven Altschuler Quits
The CEO of UHealth, the University of Miami’s health system, is resigning — 18 months into his contract — to “pursue other interests in biotechnology.” Dr. Steven Altschuler will officially serve as CEO and as executive vice president for health affairs until September 15, UM President Julio Frenk wrote in a letter. (Harris, 8/28)

Iowa Public Radio: Iowa Agriculture Secretary Expects More State Funding For Water Quality
At a meeting Monday in Des Moines to highlight partnerships among farmers, environmental groups, and state and federal agencies, Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey says lawmakers would likely send more money to conservation efforts in the coming years. ... The Environmental Defense Fund, Iowa Soybean Association, Iowa Corn Growers and state and federal partners have taken different approaches to address Iowa’s water quality challenges, but Northey says thanks to them, many conservation practices are now being used. (Mayer, 8/28)

The Baltimore Sun: Harford County Detention Center Inmate Dies At Hospital 
A 54-year-old inmate from the Harford County Detention Center died Saturday at the University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Medical Center after going into cardiac arrest., according to the county Sheriff’s Office. Just before 12:30 p.m., after speaking with the inmate, John Kobler Burkley II, and evaluating his health, deputies assigned to the Harford County Detention Center and Detention Center medical staff determined he should be taken to the hospital for further evaluation and care, according to a post on the Harford County Sheriff’s Office’s Facebook page Sunday afternoon. (Butler, 8/28)

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