KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

State Highlights: Md., Mass. Take Steps On Planned Parenthood Funding; Calif. Lawmaker Reconsider HIV Criminalization

Outlets report on news from Maryland, Massachusetts, California, Iowa, Ohio, Florida, Texas, Washington, Kansas, Pennsylvania, Colorado and Minnesota.

The Washington Post: Md. Bill Would Direct State Money To Planned Parenthood If Congress Cuts Funding
Leading Democrats in the Maryland General Assembly want to increase funding for Planned Parenthood clinics in the state if Congress cuts federal funds for the reproductive health-care services the organization provides. Lawmakers have sponsored a bill that would allocate $2.7 million to help pay for health-care services that officials say nearly 25,000 women in Maryland could lose under a proposal introduced in Congress this week. (Wiggins, 3/8)

The Baltimore Sun: Maryland Democratic Leaders Support Planned Parenthood Funding Bill 
As Congress and the Trump administration move toward a possible cutoff of federal money for Planned Parenthood, Democrats in the Maryland General Assembly say the state should cover any funding loss. Leading Democratic lawmakers are backing legislation that would require the governor to budget about $2.7 million to pay for non-abortion services offered by Planned Parenthood if federal officials cut funding. Dozens of women lawmakers turned out for the announcement at an Annapolis news conference — most dressed in red to mark International Women's Day. They were joined by male colleagues, many in red shirts and ties. (Dresser, 3/8)

The Associated Press: California Lawmakers Want To Repeal HIV Criminalization Laws
Exposing a person to HIV is treated more seriously under California law than infecting someone with any other communicable disease, a policy some lawmakers say is a relic of the decades-old AIDS scare that unfairly punishes HIV-positive people based on outdated science. Several lawmakers are promoting a bill by state Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, that would make it a misdemeanor instead of a felony to intentionally expose someone to HIV, the virus that causes the immune system-weakening disease AIDS. The change would treat HIV like other communicable diseases under California law. (Bollag, 3/8)

Des Moines Register: Few Iowa Lawmakers Reimburse For Cheap Health Care
Four years after Gov. Terry Branstad called on Iowa's 150 legislators to put some "skin in the game" by contributing to the state's healthcare costs, only eight have made any reimbursements for their government-provided health insurance, a Des Moines Register investigation has found. In 2012, Branstad urged lawmakers to cover 20 percent of their premium expenses, urging them to pay at the same rate as most non-union state employees. But few legislators have heeded Branstad’s call, and what few payments they have made largely have been inconsistent, according to data the Register obtained through Iowa’s public records law. (Clayworth, 3/8)

Cleveland Plain Dealer: Ohio Bills Aim To Curb Food Stamp, Medicaid Fraud
Senate Bill 96 and House Bill 119 would require state officials to perform to quarterly eligibility checks against several state and federal databases and expand the data used in those checks. Applicants would also be asked personal and financial history questions to verify their identity. The goal is to identify people who become ineligible through a pay raise or other life change and don't immediately report it, said Sen. Bill Coley, a Southwest Ohio Republican sponsoring the Senate bill. (Borchardt, 3/8)

Tampa Bay Times: Want Rene Garcia's Vote? Start Talking Mental Health. 
State Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah, has a message for lawmakers pushing to loosen restrictions on guns in Florida... In the wake of mass shootings at Pulse, an LGBTQ nightclub in Orlando, and the Ft. Lauderdale airport, Garcia has become even more concerned about widespread gun access, particularly among people in a mental health or substance abuse crisis who might be more likely to commit a violent crime. (Auslen and Clark, 3/8)

Texas Tribune: Texas Bill To Bar Death Penalty For Mentally Ill Faces Uphill Battle 
In Texas, as in the rest of the nation, juries can still sentence mentally ill offenders to death. In a state with one of the busiest death rows in the country, one lawmaker has filed a bill to change that. State Rep. Toni Rose, D-Dallas, has filed long-shot House Bill 3080, which would prevent offenders proven to have had a severe mental illness at the time of their crime from being sentenced to death in a capital murder case. (McCullough, 3/8)

Seattle Times: Judge Rules UW Violated Public-Records Law In Redacting Malpractice Settlements 
King County judge ruled this week that the University of Washington broke the state’s public-records law when it redacted key details from medical-malpractice settlement agreements provided to The Seattle Times in response to two public-records requests made by the newspaper in 2015. Superior Court Judge Laura Inveen ruled Monday the UW “improperly” redacted and withheld “nonexempt information” — including names of physicians and claimants, dates and other key details — from hundreds of pages of settlement agreements drafted by the UW Medical Center and other university-affiliated health-care organizations to resolve malpractice and negligence claims between 2010 and mid-2015. (3/8)

KCUR: Kansas Stem Cell Center Close To First Clinical Trial 
An adult stem cell center established by the Kansas Legislature in 2013 is almost ready for its first clinical trial.Buddhadeb Dawn, executive director of the Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center, told legislators Tuesday that the trial will focus on treating graft-versus-host disease and will begin after final approvals from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (Marso, 3/8)

The Philadelphia Inquirer: To Battle Deadly Overdose Epidemic, Philly Considers Safe Injection Sites
As Philadelphia continues to reel from last year's 910 fatal drug overdoses, local officials, medical professionals, and philanthropic organizations are considering a controversial idea: Opening special facilities where heroin users can inject drugs safely...On Wednesday, the idea of “safer injection sites” was proposed during a meeting of the Mayor’s Task Force to Combat the Opioid Epidemic, which Mammen and at least 50 others attended. (Wood, 3/8)

Denver Post: Colorado Could Owe Feds Up To $43 Million For Medicaid “Systems Error”
A “system error” at the state Medicaid department could leave Colorado taxpayers on the hook to repay the federal government as much as $43 million, an unexpected expense that state officials are scrambling to reconcile. The department’s computer system “erroneously categorized” some services as eligible for more federal funds than they were, according to a memo sent Wednesday to lawmakers on the Joint Budget Committee from a committee staffer. (Eason and Brown, 3/8)

Boston Globe: Is There A Doctor Bot In The House? 
Buoy Health has launched a digital symptom-checker designed to simulate a conversation with a real doctor, a bid to augment the range of medical websites people increasingly log on to when they’re not feeling well. Developed at the Harvard Innovation Laboratory and aided by artificial intelligence , the technology draws on a pool of about 30,000 potential questions that aim to pinpoint diseases, ranging from the common cold to more serious diagnoses. (Grebbin, 3/8)

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