KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

State Highlights: Soda Industry Targets Calif. Legislature’s Latino Caucus; Ohio’s MetroHealth System Prices Hospital Bonds At $946 Million To Pay Construction Costs

Media outlets report on news from California, Texas, Massachusetts, Louisiana, Ohio, Wisconsin and Missouri.

KQED: Soda Industry Targeted Legislature’s Latino Caucus
As California lawmakers continue to kill soda tax proposals, a new analysis found that the industry has disproportionately directed campaign contributions to members of the Latino Caucus in Sacramento. Maplight.org, a nonprofit that tracks campaign spending, found that the soda industry gave, on average, twice as much campaign cash to members of the Latino Caucus as to the average member of the state Legislature in recent years. (Lagos, 5/11)

Houston Chronicle: Memorial Hermann To Pay $2.4M After Sharing Patient Name In Press Release 
Memorial Hermann Health System has agreed to pay a $2.4 million fine and adopt a corrective action plan after being accused by the federal government of improperly disclosing a patient's name to news media in 2015. The settlement announced Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services stems from a September 2015 incident that drew national press attention and sparked an uproar among immigrant rights activists. (Hixenbaugh, 5/10)

Boston Globe: Steward Accused By Doctors Of Failing To Make Millions In Payments
When a group of doctors in Southeastern Massachusetts joined Steward Health Care System’s physician network five years ago, the partnership was supposed to help both organizations. But now Steward and the doctors group, Compass Medical PC, are engaged in an ugly business dispute over millions of dollars in payments. (Dayal McCluskey, 5/10)

Modern Healthcare: Kaiser Raises Record $4.4 Billion In White-Hot Hospital Bond Market
Kaiser Permanente raised $4.4 billion through a series of three bond offerings this month. That's a record for the Oakland, Calif.-based health plan and hospital giant, which plans to use the proceeds to fuel expansion, said Chief Financial Officer Kathy Lancaster. The aggregate interest rate on the A+-rated bonds was a stellar 3.8%. (Barkholz, 5/10)

Los Angeles Times: L.A. City Attorney Accuses Home Healthcare Firm Of Stealing Workers' Wages
The Los Angeles city attorney filed suit Wednesday against a home healthcare business operator, accusing her companies of bilking hundreds of mostly immigrant workers out of their pay while violating minimum wage and overtime laws. "Stealing wages from hardworking men and women is reprehensible,” Mike Feuer said. “No worker should be forced into poverty because an employer denies them their basic rights to a minimum wage and overtime. My office will aggressively combat wage theft and fight to ensure all workers are paid what the law demands.” (Winton, 5/10)

New Orleans Times-Picayune: 4 New Orleans Doctors, 2 Others Convicted In $13.6 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme
A jury convicted four New Orleans doctors and two others on Tuesday (May 9) in federal court for participating in a Medicare fraud scheme prosecutors say netted more than $13.6 million in fraudulent Medicare reimbursements. The six defendants, all from the New Orleans area, worked for or with Abide Home Care Services, which federal prosecutors said routinely falsified diagnoses so Medicare reimbursements were inflated. Abide also falsified medical records that supported medically unnecessary home health services, prosecutors said. The company was owned by New Orleans businesswoman Lisa Crinel, who pleaded guilty to her role in the scheme in 2015. Eighteen other individuals or companies also previously pleaded guilty related to the scheme. (Lane, 5/10)

KQED: After Valero Refinery Outage, Three Probes … And Rising Gas Prices
State workplace regulators have begun an investigation into the power outage at Valero’s Benicia refinery that has been sending flames, smoke and toxic gas into the sky for close to a week. The outage is renewing concern among environmentalists and could soon be felt by consumers around the region: a leading oil expert says the refinery’s shutdown will increase the cost of gas throughout the Bay Area. (Goldberg, 5/10)

New Orleans Times-Picayune: 1 In 3 New Orleans Inmates Take Mental Health Drugs, Jail Monitors Say 
One in three Orleans Parish inmates take drugs used to treat addiction and mental illnesses, a federal jail monitors' report says. But only 160 of the more than 500 jail inmates prescribed with psychotropic drugs are included in a system that ensures people locked up in the troubled jail receive specialized monitoring and treatment for their illnesses, the report found. The prevalence of psychotropic drug prescriptions among the New Orleans inmate population is roughly double that of the average American adult population, research shows. (Lane, 5/10)

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Assembly OKs Bill Requiring Wisconsin Guards To Report Abuse
As a two-year-old investigation into child abuse continues at the state’s juvenile prison complex, the Assembly approved legislation Wednesday that would require guards to report suspected child abuse and neglect to law enforcement. Senate Bill 35, which passed on a voice vote without opposition, marks the first step lawmakers have taken in response to a criminal investigation that began in January 2015 of Lincoln Hills School for Boys and Copper Lake School for Girls. (Marley, 5/10)

Kansas City Star: Online Eyeglass Sales Take A Chunk Out Of Optometrists' Revenue 
Optometrists who also sell eyeglasses out of their practices have long faced competition from other brick-and-mortar stores: large chains like LensCrafters, retail giants like Wal-Mart and even the corner drug store selling readers. But now they’re facing a new challenge: glasses bought online, and how frequently they need adjustments. (Marso, 5/10)

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