KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

State Highlights: Montana Averts Financial Headache Over State Employee Health Plan; Chronic Disease In Minnesota

News outlets report on health care developments in Montana, Minnesota, Maryland, Kansas, Ohio, Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, California, South Carolina, Washington and Wisconsin.

The Associated Press: Montana Averts Huge Shortfall For Health Care System
Montana officials said they have averted a massive financial shortfall that could have possibly erupted into a political and budgetary headache over the state's health care system. Gov. Steve Bullock said Tuesday his budget officers originally projected a $12 million deficit last year for the Montana State Employee Health Plan. Instead, state officials squeezed out $2 million in savings — partly because of wider use of Montana's six state-run health clinics. (Calvan, 1/26)

Minnesota Public Radio: MN Report Finds Acute Costs From Chronic Disease
New research from the state Health Department finds that chronic diseases are surprisingly expensive in Minnesota. Few would be surprised to hear that chronic conditions account for a large share of health spending. But for the first time, the state has been able to place a dollar figure on the cost of long-running health problems: nearly $23 billion. (Benson, 1/27)

The Washington Post: Hogan Proposing Independent Redistricting, Tougher Opioid Laws
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) on Tuesday proposed ... legislation to help the state crack down on a growing epidemic of opiod addiction by changing the state’s gang laws to be more like federal racketeering statutes and by eventually requiring doctors and ­pharmacists to use the state’s ­prescription-monitoring database to ensure they are not over-prescribing narcotics. (Wiggins and Hicks, 1/26)

The Kansas Health Institute News Service: Parents Speak Up For School Staff Suicide Prevention Training
Parents of Kansas children who committed suicide urged the Senate Education Committee to support a bill that would require suicide prevention training for Kansas teachers and school staff. The bill — also known as the Jason Flatt Act — would require all licensed teachers and principals to complete two hours of suicide prevention training each year. Supporters of the bill note that suicide is the second-leading cause of death among young people, and one that’s often not talked about. (Kite, 1/26)

The Associated Press: Judge: 1 Part of Louisiana Abortion Law Unconstitutional
A state mandate that doctors who provide abortions must have admitting privileges at hospitals within 30 miles is unconstitutional, a federal judge ruled Tuesday. In issuing the ruling, District Judge John deGravelles in Baton Rouge decided to keep in place his previous order blocking Louisiana officials from enforcing the mandate. DeGravelles has not yet ruled on the state's abortion law itself, though he heard arguments about it in June while first considering the injunction in connection with a lawsuit still pending in court. (1/26)

Health News Florida: Bill Seeking To Speed Up Processing Of Untested Rape Kits Passes First Senate Panel
A measure to help Florida get rid of its backlog of thousands of untested rape kits passed its first Senate panel Monday. Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto (R-Fort Myers), the bill’s sponsor, calls the amount of untested rape kits nationwide and statewide, “an epidemic.” That final survey done by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement states there are about 13,000 untested rape kits across the state—9,400 of which should be tested. (Cordner, 1/26)

Georgia Health News: Feds Cite Deaths Of Developmentally Disabled In Push For Improvements
Georgia has failed to ensure that developmentally disabled people discharged from state hospitals receive adequate services to remain safe and avoid harm, federal attorneys say in a recent court filing. The attorneys said that of the approximately 503 people with developmental disabilities discharged from state-run hospitals since 2010, 79 have died. (Miller, 1/26)

The Associated Press: Ohio Seeks To Boost Early Childhood Mental Health Services
An Ohio initiative seeks to boost access to mental health consultants in an effort to curb the number of children expelled or suspended from kindergarten, preschool and other early childhood education settings. Officials set aside $9.1 million for the initiative in the state's two-year budget, which will benefit 75 counties, according to the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. The funds allow for up to 64 mental health consultants who will work with teachers and at-risk students in programs such as Head Start, preschool and child care settings. Some consultants already are in classrooms. (Sanner, 1/26)

The Seattle Times: More Cases Reported In Salmonella Outbreak Linked To Mexican-Grown Cucumbers
A deadly outbreak of salmonella food poisoning tied to Mexican-grown cucumbers has been linked to six deaths and nearly 900 illnesses since last summer, including 26 in Washington state, health officials reported Tuesday. Two additional deaths and 50 more illnesses tied to the Salmonella Poona outbreak have been reported since the last update in November, the Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC) said. That includes illnesses that began in January, raising new questions about an ongoing source of contamination. (Aleccia, 1/26)

Health News Florida: Questions Remain In Death Of Patient
The story of Maria Huaman has set off a score of comments online, criticizing everything from Jackson Memorial Hospital to the organ transplant process. Huaman died on Jan. 13 at West Kendall Baptist Hospital. According to Huaman's family, Maria was denied a transfer to Jackson for a lung transplant. Why she was denied comes from the family because the hospital has not spoken. (Hernandez, 1/26)

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: Epic Systems Founder Judy Faulkner Plans To Give Billions To Charity
More than a dozen years ago, George Halvorson, the chief executive of Kaiser Permanente, pressed Judy Faulkner on her "number" — the sum that would entice her to either sell Epic Systems Corp. or take the company public. ... "She did not blink," [KP's Andrew] Wiesenthal said. "She said, 'There is no number. We are not going to have an IPO.'" It was one of the early signs that money is not what drives Faulkner, Epic's founder and chief executive. Another came last May when Faulkner — now a multibillionaire — pledged to give 99% of her family's wealth to a nonprofit foundation. (Boulton, 1/26)

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