KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

State Highlights: States Takes Step To Address Rape Kit Backlogs; Ky. Official Paints Grim Picture Of Health Spending

News outlets report on health issues in Kentucky, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, California, Connecticut, Maryland, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Michigan and Florida.

Stateline: Faced With Staggering Backlogs of Rape Kits, States Change Testing, Investigations
Seeking to secure justice for thousands of rape victims, about 20 states are moving to test a backlog of unexamined rape kits found in storage rooms in police departments across the country — and change the rules for how rape cases are handled in the future. ... The goal of all the legislation is to ensure that forensic evidence in the kits, such as DNA that is collected from victims in an invasive process that can last four to six hours, is promptly and properly tested to help identify and prosecute suspected rapists. The DNA evidence is placed in an FBI database so that it can be compared to that of criminals and suspects who’ve had theirs taken. (Beitsch, 2/17)

The Associated Press: Gov. Fallin Rejects Proposed Mental Health Rules
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin is rejecting proposed state mental health rules that would have prohibited payments to independent counselors and therapists to treat Medicaid-eligible Oklahoma children. Fallin said Tuesday she's rejecting the proposal by the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services that was enacted as a result of budget cuts to state agencies. (2/16)

Reuters: Colorado Surgical Tampering Case Prompts Review Of 3,000 Patients
An ex-medical technician has been indicted on charges of tampering with narcotics at a Colorado hospital, leading authorities to urge nearly 3,000 people who had surgery there to be tested for blood-borne diseases, federal prosecutors said on Tuesday. The case was brought after the defendant was caught swapping a syringe containing fentanyl citrate, a powerful synthetic opiate, for a dose of an unspecified substance during a patient’s surgery last month, U.S. Attorney John Walsh said in a statement. (Gorman, 2/16)

The California Health Report: As Vaccination Mandate Rolls Out, Some Parents Fret
Senate Bill 277, which goes into effect July 1, eliminates personal belief exemptions and requires children to be vaccinated in order to attend public or private school or day care. Parents will have to show vaccination records to enroll their child in a new school, kindergarten or seventh grade. The only way out is to get a release from doctors for medical reasons (such as having an allergic reaction to shots) or to home school. (Renner, 2/16)

The Kansas City Star: KC-Based Cerner Corp. Reports 2015 Revenue Of $4.43 Billion
The company said 2015 was particularly strong because of a 37 percent growth in business contracts worth more than $5 million and a 62 percent growth in contracts worth more than $10 million. It was the best year in Cerner’s history for new bookings, with both large hospitals and smaller ambulatory facilities contributing. Part of Cerner’s continuing workload is its collaboration with Leidos on a $16.3 billion contract with the U.S. Department of Defense to digitize and improve the military’s health records system. Last year also completed Cerner’s acquisition of Siemens Health Services. (Stafford, 2/16)

The Baltimore Sun: Baltimore Startup Protenus Raises $4 Million In Venture Capital
A Baltimore-based startup offering privacy tools for electronic medical records announced Tuesday it had raised $4 million in a fundraising round. Protenus received funding from a group of investors led by Arthur Ventures, an early stage venture capital firm with offices in Fargo, N.D., and Minneapolis. Other investors in the Series A financing round included LionBird Venture Capital, DreamIt Ventures, Cognosante, TEDCO and the Baltimore Angels. Founded by a pair of former Johns Hopkins medical students, Protenus offers tools to protect electronic medical records from employee snooping, and identifies when the records are accessed inappropriately. (Wells, 2/16)

North Carolina Health News: Law Enforcement Taking A More Active Role In Saving Lives From Overdose
“Hillbilly heroin,” they called it – OxyContin, and other opioid prescription painkillers. Police Chief Bill Hollingsed of Waynesville, in Western North Carolina’s Haywood County, recalls about four years ago when the county medical examiner shared with him a shocking statistic: Twenty-five percent of recent deaths investigated by that office were attributable to overdose of these drugs. (Sisk, 2/17)

WBUR: How Community Health Workers Act As A ‘Bridge’ For Patients Needing Extra Help
[Guissela Mariluz is] one of at least 3,600 men and women in Massachusetts who help patients pay bills, arrange pet or child care so the patient can have surgery, or sit with them at an AA meeting. It’s a job that’s been taking shape for decades but is just now becoming a more formal profession. Massachusetts is finalizing rules that are expected to establish the first voluntary community health certification. (Bebinger, 2/17)

The Associated Press: Teen Charged With Running Illegal Medical Office
A South Florida teen has been arrested after authorities say he was posing as a doctor at an illegal medical office he ran. The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office says in a news release that 18-year-old Malachi Love-Robinson was arrested Tuesday and charged with practicing medicine without a license. At the West Palm Beach clinic he opened, officials say Love-Robinson performed a physical exam on an undercover agent and offered medical advice Tuesday. (2/16)

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