KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

State Highlights: The Devil’s In The Details For States’ New Soda Taxes; Ky.’s Last Abortion Clinic Braces For Legal Showdown

Media outlets report on news from Wyoming, Kentucky, New York, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Ohio, California, Washington, Georgia, Colorado and Massachusetts.

Stateline: Soda Taxes Create Complicated Rules
This year Seattle, Philadelphia and Cook County, Illinois, slapped extra excise taxes on soda and other sweetened beverages in what they touted as an effort to reduce obesity, save public health dollars and raise revenue. But the devilish details in the levies are causing many shoppers and food sellers to scratch their heads. While they are known as “soda taxes,” in some places they also cover sugarless diet sodas, iced coffee and some bottled water. (Povich, 8/31)

The New York Times: Traces Of Crime: How New York’s DNA Techniques Became Tainted
Over the past decade, the DNA laboratory in the office of New York City’s chief medical examiner emerged as a pioneer in analyzing the most complicated evidence from crime scenes. It developed two techniques, which went beyond standard practice at the F.B.I. and other public labs, for making identifications from DNA samples that were tiny or that contained a mix of more than one person’s genetic material. (Kirchner, 9/4)

The Philadelphia Inquirer/Philly.com: Fear Of Islamic Health Clinic Stirs Debate In Northeast Philly
When neighbors learned a health clinic run by an Islamic nonprofit organization was coming to Northeast Philadelphia this fall, they had questions. Will the clinic be open to anyone, or only Muslims? (Answer: Anyone.) Will doctors impose their religious beliefs on patients? (No.) Is this a front for extremism? (No.) “We just so happen to be Muslim, but that shouldn’t deter people,” said Ammar Shahid, a doctor who works with ICNA Relief, the nonprofit opening the clinic in the Holmesburg neighborhood. Free blood-pressure screenings, dental work, and counseling for people who can’t afford basic health care will be offered. (Boren, 9/5)

The Associated Press: Court Weighs 1st Amendment Challenge To Ohio HIV Assault Law
An Ohio law requiring HIV-infected individuals to tell sexual partners of their status before having sex or risk criminal charges is unconstitutionally based on outmoded stigmas against the gay community and doesn’t take into consideration current survival rates for people with HIV, say lawyers challenging the law in a case before the state Supreme Court. (Welsh-Huggins, 9/4)

Los Angeles Times: After 15 Hepatitis Deaths, San Diego County Declares Local Health Emergency
San Diego County declared a local health emergency Friday night, adding a new level of urgency to a hepatitis A outbreak that has hit hardest among the homeless population, killing 15 people and hospitalizing hundreds. The declaration by Dr. Wilma Wooten, the region’s public health officer, bolsters the county Health and Human Services Agency’s ability to request assistance from the state and provides legal protections for a slate of actions that began unfolding across the city earlier in the day. (Sisson, 9/2)

Los Angeles Times: Lancaster Street Vendor May Have Exposed Consumers To Hepatitis A
Fruit sold by a Lancaster street vendor who was infected with hepatitis A might have exposed consumers to the virus, which can cause serious liver disease, Los Angeles County public health officials said Monday in a statement. The possibly contaminated produce was sold at a stand at West Avenue L and 20th Street West in mid-August, officials said. (Christensen, 9/4)

KQED: Heat Risks High For Bay Area Homeless
With record heat beating down on the Bay Area this holiday weekend, advocates who work with homeless people are redoubling efforts to spread word about places that offer some escape from the heat. (Small, 9/2)

Seattle Times: Is It Worth The Extra Taxpayer Money To Train Doctors At WSU Instead Of UW?
A new analysis backs up what many state officials suspected all along: Training doctors at the new medical school at Washington State University probably will cost taxpayers more than training those students at the top-ranked University of Washington School of Medicine. That news isn’t shocking to state lawmakers, who greenlighted the new medical school at WSU’s Spokane campus two years ago. (Santos, 9/3)

Los Angeles Times: 3 Californians Have Died Of West Nile Virus This Summer, Officials Say
California health officials said Friday that three people have died of West Nile virus this summer, marking the first deaths in what could be a particularly dangerous season for the disease. The three people lived in Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Kern counties, according to state health officials. L.A. County health officials said the local patient who died was from the San Fernando Valley area and was hospitalized in early August. (Karlamangla, 9/1)

Denver Post: Marijuana Sales Fund $9.2 Million In School Pot Prevention, Health Care Programs 
School nurse Rhonda Valdez is on the front lines of student health at Wheat Ridge High School, treating myriad concerns — flu outbreaks, diabetes, severe allergies, body image issues, football-related concussions. The job is rewarding and keeps her busy, but the longtime registered nurse and 18-year veteran of Jefferson County Schools is taking on a new role this fall. Valdez is among a vanguard of state-certified school nurses, social workers and counselors hired this year to try to keep marijuana out of the hands of youths. (Whaley, 9/4)

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