KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

State Highlights: Ohio Insurer’s Late Notice About Network Changes Draws Ire; Florida Rural Hospital Measure Makes Progress

News outlets report on health issues in Ohio, Florida, Arizona, Connecticut, Kansas, Minnesota, Michigan and Illinois.

The News Service of Florida: Bill Seeks To Boost Hospitals In Rural Areas
A Senate committee Tuesday approved a bill that could help boost efforts to build new or replacement hospitals in rural counties. Approved by the Senate Health Policy Committee, SB 236 would expand an exemption to the state's "certificate of need" regulatory process for hospital construction or expansion projects. The state currently has a narrow exemption that applies to hospitals in counties with populations of 15,000 to 18,000 people and densities of fewer than 30 people per square mile. (2/9)

Health News Florida: WellCare Profits Inch Up In Fourth Quarter
Tampa-based WellCare Health Plans, which covers about 900,000 Floridians in the Medicaid and Medicare programs, saw an uptick in net income during the fourth quarter of 2015, according to an earnings report released Tuesday. WellCare is a major player in Florida's Medicaid managed-care system. As of Dec. 31, it included 781,000 Florida Medicaid beneficiaries, up from 722,000 a year earlier. Its Medicare Advantage plans also included 107,000 people in Florida, the release said. (Shedden, 2/9)

Heartland Health Monitor: Former Osawatomie Superintendent: 'System Has Been Stretched To Absolute Limit'
Steve Feinstein was superintendent of Osawatomie State Hospital from 1994 to 1998. He has a Ph.D. in psychology and got involved in mental health issues when he was hired to run a state mental hospital in eastern Oregon. Although he’s retired now, the Louisburg resident continues to pay close attention to what’s going on at Osawatomie, one of two state-run hospitals for Kansans with severe and persistent mental illness. In a recent interview, he spoke to Dan Margolies about the Kansas hospital’s recent troubles. (Margolies, 2/9)

Minnesota Public Radio: U Of M Study Finds 'Health Care Homes' Model Pays Off
Minnesota's effort to shift primary care from treating illness to improving patient health is paying off — handsomely. A University of Minnesota evaluation of so-called "health care homes" shows the team-based approach to care has saved state and federal taxpayers $1 billion. The evaluation also found that health care homes improve the quality of care. (Benson, 2/9)

The Detroit Free Press: Pontiac Hospital To Be Bought Out Of Bankruptcy
Pontiac's long-struggling Doctors' Hospital of Michigan could soon emerge from bankruptcy after a judge this week approved a reorganization plan that would sell metro Detroit's last remaining independent hospital to a family-run private equity firm. The firm, called Sant Partners, says it intends to expand the hospital's medical services and provide better overall management to return to profitability. The hospital's current CEO will remain in place but take a pay cut. (Reindl, 2/8)

The Daily Southtown: St. James Closing Plan Aired
Faced with ongoing massive operating losses, Franciscan St. James Health aired its plan to end inpatient services at its Chicago Heights hospital to a hearing Tuesday held by the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board. That board is tentatively scheduled to vote March 29 on the proposal, which calls for boosting outpatient services at that hospital while expanding St. James' Olympia Fields hospital as well as its Franciscan ExpressCare urgent care center in Chicago Heights. (Nolan, 2/9)

The News Service of Florida: Florida Surgeon General Responds To HIV Criticism, Staff Cuts
State Surgeon General John Armstrong, who heads the Florida Department of Health, has faced scrutiny from lawmakers recently on a number of high-profile issues. The issues include the state's rising HIV rate, cuts to county health departments and 9,000 kids who lost places in the Children's Medical Services program --- which serves youngsters with "serious and chronic" conditions --- under a new eligibility screening process last year. (Menzel, 2/9)

The Kansas Health Institute News Service: Sparks Fly At Legislative Hearing On Bill To Ban Teen Tanning
A legislative hearing Tuesday on a bill to prohibit Kansans under 18 from using commercial tanning beds produced emotional testimony from cancer victims and sharp exchanges between lawmakers and the proposal’s lone opponent. And it seemed clear by the hearing’s end that the bill had the support of several lawmakers who normally would be troubled by the prospect of regulating private businesses. (McLean, 2/9)

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