KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

State Highlights: Mass. Nursing Homes Promise Workers Pay Boost; Texas Seeks To Repair Damage At Family Planning Clinics

News outlets report on health care developments in Massachusetts, Texas, Kentucky, Illinois, Alaska, California, Minnesota, Indiana and Florida.

The Boston Globe: Nursing Homes Pledge To Boost Worker Pay
The Massachusetts nursing home industry is promising to boost the pay of thousands of workers who make only a few dollars above minimum wage now that the state budget proposed by Governor Charlier Baker contains an extra $30 million for nursing homes. But advocates for nursing home residents want more than a promise: They want the Baker administration to specifically mandate that part of the money go to higher wages for workers, many of whom are immigrants and single mothers. (Lazar, 1/29)

NPR: Texas Tries To Repair Damage Wreaked Upon Family Planning Clinics
For the past five years, the Texas Legislature has done everything in its power to defund Planned Parenthood. But it's not so easy to target that organization without hurting family planning clinics around the state generally. Of the 82 clinics that have closed, only a third were Planned Parenthood. (Goodwyn, 1/28)

The Associated Press: Kentucky House Votes To Amend Informed Consent Law
The Kentucky House voted Thursday evening to amend the state’s informed consent law to allow real-time video consultations between doctors and women as an option at least 24 hours before an abortion. The 92-3 vote reflected a rare compromise between legislative Democrats and Republicans on the polarizing abortion issue. ... House members added so-called telemedicine as an option for women and doctors to comply with the informed consent law. The House version offers the option of face-to-face meetings in person or by video. (Schreiner, 1/28)

The Chicago Tribune: Consumers Caught In The Middle Of Insurers, Hospital Payment Disputes
Some Chicago-area consumers were surprised to learn this month that insurance companies can at any time limit their access to doctors and hospitals in health plans. Land of Lincoln Health announced last week on its website that it will drop the University of Chicago's top-flight medical center from its network as of March 1, after the two sides couldn't agree to terms on reimbursement rates. The removal blindsided people who began coverage with the Chicago-based insurer Jan. 1. Customers thought their U. of C. doctors would be covered all year long because the doctors were listed in Land of Lincoln's network directory when the customers bought plans during open enrollment in the public marketplace under the Affordable Care Act. Trimming networks after enrollment season ends is not uncommon in Illinois and other states, highlighting glaring holes in state insurance regulations, consumer advocates say. (Sachdev, 1/28)

Alaska Dispatch News: Walker Administration Proposes Medicaid Reforms Outlined In Recent Report
A new version of a Medicaid bill from Gov. Bill Walker’s administration would institute some of the reform recommendations for the $600 million program outlined in a recent report to the Alaska health department. The substitute for Walker’s Senate Bill 78 would require creation of a system to make sure Medicaid patients have day-to-day health care providers overseeing their care. It would create an analytics initiative to help the health department share data with medical providers. It would allow the state health department to work with providers on initiatives aimed at cutting down on non-emergency use of the emergency room by Medicaid patients. (Herz, 1/28)

The San Jose Mercury News: Options Limited For California Caregivers Shouldering Burden Of Growing Alzheimer'S Crisis
[Patt] Martin was among the 15.7 million Americans who contributed an estimated 17.9 billion unpaid hours to caring for people with Alzheimer's in 2014, according to the Alzheimer's Association. The organization says that 41 percent of those caregivers had a household income of less than $50,000, and 17 percent had to give up their jobs. Faced with physical, emotional and economic hardships, 40 percent of caregivers reported bouts of depression, the association says. (Wessel, 1/28)

The Pioneer Press: Audit: More Than $100M Paid To Ineligible Public Program Recepients
More than 80,000 Minnesotans enrolled in public health programs for which they weren’t eligible last year, an estimated cost to taxpayers of hundreds of millions of dollars. The expensive problem was caused partly by miscommunication and poor training at the Department of Human Services, but the audit that uncovered the errors said software issues are primarily to blame. (Montgomery, 1/28)

The Associated Press: Deal Would Ban Solitary Confinement For Some Indiana Inmates
A proposed settlement of a class-action lawsuit that targets Indiana's treatment of seriously mentally ill inmates is a game-changer, a plaintiffs' attorney said Thursday, that ensures the state will treat those inmates "the best we can in prison." The agreement, which took three years to reach, bars solitary confinement for most seriously mentally ill state inmates and significantly improves their access to mental health care. (Callahan, 1/28)

The Chicago Sun-Times: Emanuel Steps Up Crisis Intervention Training For Cops, 911 Operators
Five years after closing six of the city’s 12 mental health clinics, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is stepping up crisis intervention training for Chicago Police officers and 911 operators to improve the city’s response to emergencies involving people suffering from mental illness. The police shootings of Laquan McDonald in October 2014 and Quintonio LeGrier and Bettie Jones in December 2015 are only the most recent examples of incidents where deadly consequences might have been avoided if police officers and 911 operators had been better trained, said Alexa James, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness Chicago. (Spielman, 1/28)

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