KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Federal Panel Awards Almost $500 Million To La. To Replace New Orleans Charity Hospital

The New York Times: "Ending one of the longest-running disputes left by Hurricane Katrina, a federal arbitration panel ruled Wednesday that Louisiana would receive $474.8 million - nearly all it had requested - to pay for the replacement of Charity Hospital in New Orleans, which has been closed since the storm. The ruling is a significant victory for state and city officials, and gives a major boost to plans to replace Charity, a state-owned hospital for the indigent, with a new $1.2 billion academic medical center in the Mid-City neighborhood" (Sack, 1/27).

The Deseret News: "A bill that would prevent Utah insurance companies from discontinuing health care coverage for people in prison was approved in committee Wednesday. Like most Utahns who lose their health coverage when they lose their jobs, convicts often lose their coverage under current law, which makes the state responsible for the medical bills incurred while in custody. HB22, which was approved with one dissenting vote by the House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee, is the fiscally responsible thing to do, especially during tight economic times, said sponsor Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield" (Thalman, 1/27).

The Los Angeles Times: "State officials have fined 13 California hospitals for medical errors that in some cases killed or seriously injured patients, according to a report made public Wednesday. California Department of Public Health officials have required hospital officials - who may appeal the fines - to submit plans to correct the problems. Three hospitals in Los Angeles County face penalties" (Hennesy-Fiske, 1/28).

Health News Florida reports on hospital quality in Florida: "HealthGrades, a Colorado-based healthcare ratings firm, awarded its top marks to 43 Florida hospitals that it said were in the top 5 percent nationwide for minimizing mortality and complications. That put Florida among the best-performing states, trailing only Delaware, Maryland and Minnesota for the percentage of a state's hospitals in the top group. The firm's analysis of 5,000 hospitals is based on 40 million patient records from Medicare's parent agency from 2006 through 2008. The hospitals were evaluated on 26 procedures and conditions, adjusted for the severity of patients' cases" (Gulliver, 1/27).

Health News Florida also reports separately: "As the trauma centers and hospitals in South Florida cope with hundreds of injured Haitians, state emergency operations staff are now directing military airlift flights to Orlando and Tampa, with Jacksonville soon to follow. Tampa got its first load of 17 patients last night, with most going to Tampa General. ... Tampa was chosen, according to the televised report, because South Florida hospitals are becoming overwhelmed, and partially because those hospitals have to make room for injuries related to the Pro Bowl and Super Bowl" (1/27).

The Idaho Statesman: "Idaho is one of the last states in the nation to put in place a law guaranteeing that people who go through an insurer's internal review process and still get denials have one more option. Patients can now take their cases to a review board that is independent of the insurance company - for free. The Idaho Health Carrier External Review Act took effect Jan. 1. The state Department of Insurance likely will see the first appeals that fit the requirements by March, after insurers' internal reviews are finished" (LaMay, 1/28). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.