KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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State Highlights: Wis. Assembly Approves Planned Parenthood Cuts; Kan. House OKs Budget Shifting Funds Between Health Concerns

News outlets report on health issues Wisconsin, Kansas, Kentucky, California, Ohio, Nebraska, North Carolina, Massachusetts and Montana.

The Associated Press: Panel Advances Bill To Require Ultrasounds Before Abortions
Abortion opponents increasingly on the offensive in Kentucky’s statehouse advanced legislation Thursday that would require doctors to perform ultrasounds prior to abortions and to describe what is seen to the pregnant women. It’s part of a series of measures being pushed in Kentucky by abortion foes to impose conditions before abortions, ban the sale of fetal body parts and put Planned Parenthood clinics at the end of the line for family planning funds. (Schreiner, 2/11)

Reuters: California Insurance Regulators Probing Zenefits
Software company Zenefits is being investigated by the California Department of Insurance over questions about its business practices, the agency said Thursday. California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones revealed in a statement that the agency had launched an investigation into Zenefits in 2015. Jones said he had directed the agency to use additional resources to investigate whether Zenefits had complied with regulations that require the licensing and training of insurance agents and brokers. (2/11)

The Associated Press: Cleveland Mayor Apologizes For Billing Family Of Dead Boy
The mayor of Cleveland apologized Thursday to the family of Tamir Rice, a black 12-year-old boy fatally shot by a white Cleveland police officer, for the city having sent the administrator of the boy's estate a "decedent's last dying expense" claim of $500 for ambulance services. Mayor Frank Jackson said at a news conference that filing the claim was part of a routine but that supervisors should have been alerted and the claim never filed. (2/12)

The Associated Press: Opponents Urge Lawmakers To Snuff Out Tobacco Tax Increase
Nebraska's tobacco tax could more than double under a bill that is drawing praise from health officials but strong criticism from retailers, grocers and smokers. A legislative committee heard testimony Thursday on a bill by Sen. Mike Gloor of Grand Island that would bump Nebraska's cigarette tax from 64 cents to $2.14 per pack. It would generate an estimated $120 million in state revenue that would be directed partly to tax relief and partly to health care and public safety providers. (Gronewold, 2/11)

The Associated Press: Jury: Smokers Didn’t Prove Marlboros Have Defective Design
A federal jury has rejected claims by a group of Massachusetts smokers who sued Philip Morris USA to try to force the cigarette maker to pay for lung cancer screenings. The jury in its verdict Wednesday found that smokers in the class-action lawsuit didn’t prove that Marlboro cigarettes were defectively designed. The smokers were not seeking money. Instead, they wanted Philip Morris to pay for a medical-monitoring program, including 3-D chest scans that can detect signs of early-stage lung cancer. (2/11)

North Carolina Health News: Lawmakers Want Mental Health Agencies To Spend Their Money
Even as officials from the Department of Health and Human Services were touting the success and stability of the current mental health system, lawmakers expressed impatience Tuesday morning with the speed of new service creation and denials of service to their constituents. Citing large cash balances held by the state’s mental health managed care organizations, Sen. Tommy Tucker (R-Waxhaw) and other lawmakers said that state-funded local management entities/managed care organizations needed to start spending on patients. (Hoban, 2/11)

The Associated Press: Jury Rules Against Montana Woman’s Wrongful-Birth Lawsuit
A Montana jury ruled Thursday against a woman who sought millions of dollars from health care providers that she said failed to diagnose her unborn daughter’s cystic fibrosis. Kerrie Evans of Gardiner had testified that she would have had an abortion if she had known her daughter, who is now 5 years old, would be born with the genetic disease. The mucus cells of a cystic fibrosis patient produce a thick and sticky fluid that damages the lungs and digestive system. While each case is different, many patients now live to be adults with proper treatment and care. (2/11)

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