KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

State Highlights: Va. Considers Nursing Facilities Cameras; Fla. Gov. Signs Unscrupulous Guardian Bill

News outlets report on health issues in Virginia, Florida, California, Kansas, Pennsylvania and Texas.

The News Service Of Florida: Scott Signs Bill Aimed At Unscrupulous Guardians
Gov. Rick Scott on Thursday signed a bill aimed at better protecting elderly Floridians from unscrupulous guardians. The measure (SB 232), filed by Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, calls for the Department of Elder Affairs to certify and oversee professional guardians. Under the bill, the Statewide Public Guardianship Office at the Florida Department of Elder Affairs will expand to become the Office of Public and Professional Guardians. It will establish standards for public and private guardians, receive and investigate complaints and penalize guardians who breach the standards. (3/13)

Kaiser Health News: Fear Of Future Health Problems Plagues Porter Ranch, Calif., Gas Leak Victims
Kavita Ramchandani loved everything about evenings in her backyard: how the full moon lit up the sky, the way the breeze seemed to talk to her, the smell of the pine trees. She bought the single-story hillside house in this upscale Los Angeles County suburb after emigrating from India, and from the first night it felt like home. Then last fall, gas started leaking from a well at a nearby storage facility, and Ramchandani, 53, began wheezing, getting nose bleeds and persistent headaches. She left her home in January. Now, she says, the house just feels foreign. And scary. (Gorman, 3/15)

The Kansas Health Institute News Service: Feds: Kansas Mental Health Screenings Require Reforms
Federal officials found fault with the way Kansas had screened people for admission to psychiatric hospitals, but left the door open for the state to divert patients if it reforms the screening procedure. Gov. Sam Brownback vetoed a section in Senate Bill 161 that would have reinstated a requirement that Medicaid recipients be screened before admitting them for inpatient psychiatric treatment. Brownback said he supports the screenings, but the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have threatened to reduce state funding for health programs by up to $1.8 million because of the requirement. (Hart, 3/11)

The Associated Press: Health Care Transparency Bill Passes Florida Senate
The Florida Senate passed a bill on Thursday that would give residents more transparency on the costs of health care. The bill (HB 1175), which passed 27-1, requires Florida's Agency for Health Care Administration to contract with a vendor for a website that will show cost and quality of care. (3/14)

The Philadelphia Inquirer: IBC Offering Telemedicine
Independence Blue Cross said it is offering telemedicine services to certain employer groups through MDLIVE, a national company that connects patients with primary-care physicians by telephone, video or mobile app. MDLIVE physicians, who will be paid through a contract MDLIVE has with IBC, can make diagnoses and prescribe medicines. (Brubaker, 3/14)

The San Antonio Express-News: A Hometown Hospital's Fight Gets Ugly In Insurance Negotiations
In this place of tall pines and fried catfish, where the Texas twang rolls sweet and slow, a hometown hospital took a swing at three of the nation’s largest insurers. The legal brawl it unleashed gives a rare glimpse into just how antagonistic the business of health care can become these days. Last summer, just shy of its 65th birthday, East Texas Medical Center filed a lawsuit in state district court in Smith County alleging that Aetna Health, Cigna Healthcare and, especially, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas have plunged the hospital into financial jeopardy by repeatedly shutting it out of the most common and popular group health insurance networks. (Deam, 3/14)

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