KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

State Highlights: Why States’ Tobacco Taxes Were Rejected This Year; Conn. Governor Names State’s Health Care Advocate

Outlets report on health news from Connecticut, New Hampshire, Colorado and Ohio.

Stateline: Tobacco Company Cash Crushes Tax Increases
Between 1980 and 2015, voters approved nearly 70 percent of the 32 tobacco tax hikes that appeared on statewide ballots, according to Ballotpedia, a nonpartisan research group that has tracked them. But in November, voters in North Dakota, Missouri and Colorado defeated measures that would have increased taxes by 23 cents to $1.76 on a pack of cigarettes. ... Tobacco taxes generally are among the least controversial taxes to raise because they affect a small number of voters and the dangers of tobacco use are widely known. State legislatures, in particular, are fond of raising so-called “sin” taxes, as opposed to approving increases in broad-based taxes such as those on income or property. But November’s electorate may have been especially tax averse. (Povich, 1/9)

Denver Post: Colorado Health Department Warns Of Possible Measles Exposure In Denver Metro Area
An unvaccinated adult may have exposed people to measles in the past month at several locations in Denver, Aurora, Englewood, Centennial and Boulder County, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment announced Monday. The adult, whose name was not released, contracted measles while traveling abroad and was hospitalized for three days at Parker Adventist Hospital starting on Dec. 29. The state Health Department has pieced together the patient’s errands in the days prior and is now warning people who were at those places at roughly the same time to be on the lookout for symptoms of measles. (Ingold, 1/9)

Columbus Dispatch: Zanesville Nursing Home Operator Ordered To Repay Fraudulent Medicare, Medicaid Money
A Zanesville nursing home operator has been ordered to repay tens of thousands of fraudulently obtained Medicare and Medicaid dollars, after an investigation by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office found that the owner and other employees habitually altered documents to make it appear patients were being properly cared for in order to receive government aid. Autumn Health Care of Zanesville must pay back $53,390 to the Ohio Department of Medicaid and $75,250 to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, as well as $40,000 in investigative costs, Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office announced Monday. (Smola, 1/10)

Cleveland Plain Dealer: Mother, Son Stand Trial In $7 Million Home Health-Care Scheme 
A mother and son are on trial in federal court this week on charges that they were part of a scheme to fraudulently bill government medical programs to the tune of more than $7 million through their home health-care company. Delores Knight, 71, of Cleveland Heights, and Isaac Knight, 29, of Macedonia are charged with conspiracy to commit health-care fraud and health-care fraud. Delores Knight also faces nine money laundering counts, and Isaac Knight is charged with making a false statement relating to health-care matters. (Heisig, 1/9)

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