KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

State Highlights: Fla. Weighs Hospital Transparency Bill; Ky. Lawmakers Approve New Abortion Law

News outlets report on health care issues in Florida, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Virginia, California, Kansas, Washington and Illinois.

News Service of Florida: 'Transparency' Backed In Senate Amid Questions
A Senate budget panel last week approved a bill that seeks to increase transparency about health-care costs, but the measure drew pointed questions from some lawmakers. The bill (SB 1496), sponsored by Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, comes after Gov. Rick Scott has spent months accusing hospitals of engaging in "price gouging" --- an allegation that the hospital industry refutes. (2/1)

The Associated Press: Kentucky Lawmakers Finish Work On Informed Consent Bill
Ending years of stalemate on the abortion issue, Kentucky lawmakers on Monday gave final passage to legislation allowing real-time video consultations between doctors and women as an option to fulfill "informed consent" requirements before an abortion. The state's new Republican governor said he would sign the measure into law. (Schreiner, 2/1)

USA Today/The (Louisville, Ky.) Courier-Journal: Planned Parenthood: Ex-Governor's Officials Gave Abortion OK
Planned Parenthood on Sunday released documents that show Kentucky officials, under former Gov. Steve Beshear, authorized it to begin providing abortions at its Louisville clinic. The organization released the material seeking to refute claims from Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin that the organization acted illegally. "We in no way, shape or form would contemplate offering abortion procedures in anything but a legal environment," said Betty Cockrum, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, or PPINK. (Yetter, 2/1)

The Philadelphia Inquirer: St. Chris Cuts Back On Pediatric Heart Surgeries
St. Christopher's Hospital for Children said Monday that it had stopped conducting elective heart surgeries pending an internal review. The North Philadelphia facility continues to perform emergency heart surgery, hospital spokeswoman Kate Donaghy said. The hospital did not indicate what prompted the review. (Avril and Purcell, 2/1)

The Associated Press: Health Insurers, Pharmaceuticals Feud Over Drug Costs Bill
Two lobbying behemoths have been quietly duking it out behind the scenes at the Virginia General Assembly over a whether drugs companies should have to open up their books. Health insurers are pushing legislation that would require pharmaceutical companies publish the cost of developing, manufacturing, and marketing the prescriptions that cost $10,000 or more for a single course of treatment. (Suderman, 2/1)

Health News Florida: Rose Radiology To Pay $8M For False Billing
Rose Radiology Centers Inc. has agreed to pay $8.71 million to resolve claims of false billing and kickbacks revealed in two whistleblower lawsuits, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Florida. Rose Radiology, which has several locations in the Tampa Bay area, was accused of submitting false claims to federal health care programs, and not observing a safety requirement that says physicians have to supervise the administration of contrast dye for an MRI. (2/1)

The Kansas Health Institute News Service: Opponents Of Kansas Death Penalty Pushing Repeal Bill
A bipartisan group of Kansas legislators attempting to repeal the state’s death penalty say they’re building support among rank-and-file lawmakers but having trouble overcoming opposition from legislative leaders. The legislators sponsoring the repeal bill say the death penalty is ineffective, wasteful and unjust. Rep. Steven Becker, a Republican from Buhler and a former district court judge, said he knows firsthand that the judicial system makes mistakes. Since the early 1970s, he said, 156 people convicted of capital crimes were later found innocent and released from death row. (McLean, 1/29)

The Philadelphia Inquirer: To Better Train Paramedics, Virtua Moves Program
Most patients don't have heart failure on an empty table, with good lighting all around and nothing to obstruct the paramedics who respond to the 911 call. "My first cardiac arrest was in the backseat of a taxi cab," said Scott Kasper, Virtua Health's assistant vice president of emergency medical services. Virtua's paramedic training program in South Jersey has long prepared students for the real world by sending them out into it. Now it's hoping to bring more real-world complexity to campus. (Lai, 2/1)

The California Health Report: Get The Door, It’s The Doctor: House Calls For Older Patients In San Francisco
UCSF’s House Calls program started in the early 1990s as a training module for medical students and residents. Need and demand have helped the program grow to a current 300 patients and another 100 on a waiting list, says Dr. Carla Perissinotto, an attending physician in the program and Carol Hill’s personal physician. New technology has expanded the program’s capabilities including portable x-ray and ultrasound equipment. Dr. Perissinotto recently used telehealth technology to check a patient’s skin infection, and gerontology residents at UCSF who are part of the visiting staff often use the telehealth technology during a patient visit to consult with attending physicians. (Kitz, 2/1)

The Kansas City Star: With Nearly 400 Sick, Norovirus Investigation At New Theater Restaurant Expands
The investigation of an outbreak of norovirus infection at New Theatre Restaurant has expanded, with more than 390 people having reported illness. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment is now looking at people who attended shows at Overland Park’s New Theatre from Jan. 15 to the present. So far, four people who became ill have laboratory specimens that confirmed norovirus. (Smith, 2/1)

The Philadelphia Inquirer: How To Talk To People With Alzheimer's
Expect to say "I'm sorry" a lot if you decide to try one of the trendier ways to communicate with people who have Alzheimer's. There was a time when caregivers tried orienting people with dementia to reality. That often feels like the natural thing to do. "No, Mom, I actually did tell you that. Like, five times." But at Daylesford Crossing, an assisted-living facility in Paoli, workers are more likely to just go with it if a resident has some strange ideas. (Burling, 1/31)

The Philadelphia Inquirer: Within Their Grasp
The futuristic armored exoskeletons we marvel at in movies like Iron Man and the robotic "Luke Arm" of the Star Wars saga are now real inventions. And they've landed in Philadelphia. Two former Wall Street traders, Marc Morgenthaler and Christopher Meek, have created SoldierStrong, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit start-up that fills the gap between veteran amputees who want the space-age technology and the high cost of paying for it. (Arvedlund, 2/1)

The Associated Press: California Medical Association Backs Recreational Pot Plan
California's largest organization of practicing physicians, the California Medical Association, announced Monday that it is backing a proposed 2016 ballot initiative to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. A coalition of entrepreneurs, activists, environmentalists and state politicians are backing the initiative, led by billionaire technology investor Sean Parker. (Noon, 2/1)

The Sacramento Bee: Here’s How Marijuana Legalization Would Work In California
California was the first state to allow medical marijuana. Now, two decades later, voters are expected to be asked whether to legalize recreational use of the drug. The legalization measure most likely to qualify for the statewide November ballot is the product of months of negotiations between groups with varying interests, from drug-law reformers, to growers and distributors, to famous financiers and politicians. Here’s a primer. (Cadelago, 2/1)

The Associated Press: Research Firm: Illinois Marijuana Market Is Gloomy
A market research company is growing pessimistic about Illinois medical marijuana, telling investors that retail sales could reach just $15.6 million in 2016 due at least in part to moves by Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration to limit the program's expansion. ArcView Market Research released its projections Monday exclusively to The Associated Press to coincide with the company's annual guide, which estimates the national cannabis market for 2016 at $6.7 billion. (Johnson, 2/1)

Health News Florida: John Morgan Confident Medical Marijuana Will Pass This Time
Orlando attorney John Morgan says this will be his last push to bring medical marijuana up for a vote if the constitutional amendment fails at the polls in November. There are now enough signatures to get it on the ballot. In 2014 it almost passed but failed, and since then, Morgan said attitudes have changed. So has his strategy. (Welch, 2/1)

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