KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Mass. Senate Approves ‘End-Of-Life’ Discussion Mandate; Kan. Tax Cuts Bill Signed

News from state houses around the United States includes legislation requiring end-of-life discussions in Massachusetts, adding a step to vaccine opt-outs in California, approving tax cuts in Kansas and debating licensure of insurance advisers in Iowa.

WBUR: Mass. Senate Skirts End-Of-Life Counseling Controversy
With no debate, and a quick call of the ayes and nays, the Massachusetts Senate approved a requirement last week that all doctors and nurses talk to dying patients about their end-of-life options. In passing the amendment, legislators avoided a minefield that exploded repeatedly during the national health care debate. Senate aides who knew what was coming held their breath as Senate President Therese Murray asked the clerk to read amendment No. 121 known as "Palliative Care Awareness" (Bebinger, 5/23).

KQED: Bill Would Make 'Opt-Out' A Little Tougher
California is one of 20 states that allows parents to "opt out" of vaccines for their children simply by signing a form. It's called a "personal belief exemption." But AB 2109 would change that. The bill has cleared the Assembly and is starting its path through Senate committees. If the bill becomes law, parents who wish to refuse vaccines would first need to receive counseling from a licensed health professional about the risks and benefits of skipping immunizations for their children (Aliferis, 5/22).

Kansas Health Institute News: Governor Signs Tax Cuts Into Law
Gov. Sam Brownback today signed into law a package of tax cuts that many supporters and most critics of the plan agree will mean deep future cuts in state spending. Legislative analysts project the law will cost the state treasury up to $2.9 billion in foregone revenues over the next five years and put Kansas government in the hole by about $829 million come July 1, 2014. … "We aren't going to cut people off Medicaid," he said. "We're going to fund our schools. The roads will get built” (Cauthon, 5/22).

Des Moines Register: Insurance Adviser Licensure Opposed
Gov. Terry Branstad should veto a requirement in a budget bill mandating that advisers who help Iowans compare health insurance options be licensed, an advocacy group said in a letter to the governor on Tuesday. The Legislature this month passed a bill that includes language setting the qualifications for the so-called "navigators" who will act as public advisers in implementing the federal health care reform act that opponents often called Obamacare (Clayworth, 5/23).

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