KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Highlights: Disabled At Risk At Calif. Facilities, Audit Finds; Ga. Maternal Mortality

Los Angeles Times: California Facilities Put Disabled At Risk, Audit Finds 
Californians with developmental disabilities who are cared for at state facilities are being put at risk by outdated policies and inadequate investigations of abuse, the state auditor's office said Tuesday. Allegations that residents have been raped, shot with stun guns and otherwise abused have not been acted on satisfactorily, auditors found. The California Department of Developmental Services cares for 1,480 severely disabled people in five facilities throughout the state (McGreevy, 7/9).

Sacramento Bee: Children's Advocates Say New Dental Plans Not That Filling After All
Filling cavities in children's teeth is designated by law as one of 10 "essential benefits" in next year's federal health care overhaul. But children's advocates say that the fine print shows that it's not all that essential after all. … The bottom line is that low-income families buying pediatric dental insurance through the state's online exchange, Covered California, will pay an extra monthly premium and potentially more out-of-pocket expenses. Children's advocacy groups are pushing the state exchange to switch gears and embed medical care and kids' dental care into a single policy, with premiums cut by charging the same price to families with children and without (Sanders, 7/10).

Related, earlier Kaiser Health News story: Health Law Provisions To Expand Kids' Dental Coverage May Fall Short, Advocates Say (Carey, 6/19)

Georgia Health News: State Reviewing Why More Women Die In Childbirth
Georgia has improved its infant mortality rate but has seen a jump in its maternal mortality rates. The rates were included in a series of health statistics presented at a Department of Public Health board meeting Tuesday (Miller, 7/9).

Kaiser Health News: How Oregon Is Getting 'Frequent Flyers' Out Of Hospital ERs
Forty-year-old Jeremie Seals has had a tough life. He left home at 14, and he says, his health isn't good. He had a heart attack when he was 35, he has congestive heart failure and nerve pain in his legs 'real bad.' ... [O]ver the years, he says his health has deteriorated to such a degree, he can no longer hold a job. By 2011, he was sleeping in his car, and that’s when his medical problems started having a big financial impact. 'I basically lived at the emergency department,' he said. ... And that's what brought him to the attention of one of Oregon's new coordinated care organizations (Foden-Vencil, 7/10).

Modern Healthcare: Docs, Ala. System Accused In $522M Kickback Case
Cardiologists and the Infirmary Health System in Mobile, Ala., are accused of needlessly exposing patients to radiation in a nine-year-running kickback scheme tainting an estimated $522 million in Medicare, Medicaid and Tricare reimbursements since 2004. The U.S. Justice Department announced it will join a whistle-blower's lawsuit against Infirmary and the independent Diagnostic Physicians Group, making it at least the third ongoing government False Claims case against a hospital seeking more than $100 million (Carlson, 7/9). 

Health News Florida: DOH Cancels Studies In Mid-Stream
Medical researchers across Florida say they fear a state bureaucratic decision will strip them of up to $10 million in grants and prematurely shut down ongoing studies involving thousands of patients. The Department of Health has told 18 university and institute scientists that a state rule on grants forbids the state from funding the final two years of five-year grants the researchers received in 2010 (Lamendola, 7/9).

California Healthline: Medical Home Bill Closer To Passage
The Senate Committee on Health last week passed a bill to establish a medical home system in California. AB 361, by Assembly member Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles,) already won approval in the Assembly and appears headed for a Senate floor vote when the full Legislature reconvenes in August. "This bill brings federal resources to California to address frequent users in the Medi-Cal system because of chronic medical conditions," according to Assembly member Ken Cooley (D-Rancho Cordova), who introduced the bill last week for Mitchell. … In fact, Cooley said, setting up the medical home program has no cost to the state, since 90 percent of it is federally funded under the Affordable Care Act, and the remaining 10 percent tab will be picked up by the California Endowment (Gorn, 7/9).

Kansas Health Institute: Public Comment Sessions Scheduled On Proposed Kansas Medicaid Changes
State health officials have scheduled public comment sessions next week in Wichita and Topeka to collect input on their plan to modify the state's Medicaid program so that long-term supports for the developmentally disabled can be included in KanCare. Pending federal approval of the plan, Kansas officials aim to expand KanCare effective Jan. 1, 2014 (7/9).

Oregonian: Oregon Legislature Mandates Midwife Licensing
The Oregon Legislature passed a bill this weekend that would require mandatory licensing of midwives. The stipulations of House Bill 2997 apply to direct-entry midwives, who enter into midwifery without training from a nursing program. The bill makes exceptions for midwives that are part of a traditional religious community (Karlamangla, 7/9).  

The Lund Report: Bill Banning Toxic Chemicals In Toys Dies In Oregon Senate
This is how the legislative session ends; not with a bang, but with a whimper. The Toxics Disclosure for Health Kids Act died on the session's last day, Monday, with no vote ever taken in the Senate. Instead, Senate Majority Leader Diane Rosenbaum, D-Portland, sent House Bill 3162 to the Senate Rules Committee after a brief speech: "This is an important bill disclosing toxics in children's products but unfortunately it does not have the votes at this time," Rosenbaum lamented as she signaled the bill's defeat (Gray, 7/9).

The Lund Report: Women's Cancer Screening In Oregon Gets Funds Along With Junction City Hospital
The Legislature found extra funding in its final budget for breast and cervical cancer screening, rural ambulance services, and dental fluoride programs for school children as it passed its budget resolution, House Bill 5008, before adjourning on Monday. HB 5008 is known informally among Capitol insiders as the "Christmas tree" bill, as last-minute negotiations and deals in the Legislature leave advocates and special interests vying for presents (Gray, 7/9).

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