KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Highlights: N.Y. Mayors, Governor Press Federal Gov’t On Medicaid Waiver, State Gov’t For More Aid

A selection of health policy stories from New York, Texas, South Carolina, Virginia, Kansas, Florida, Rhode Island and Georgia.

The New York Times: Mayor And Governor Teaming Up To Save Brooklyn Hospitals
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, at odds over how to pay for prekindergarten, showed a unified front on Monday on helping distressed Brooklyn hospitals and said that without immediate federal support, “there will be closures.” The mayor and the governor seemed to be escalating a dispute with the Obama administration over who was responsible for the fate of floundering hospitals like Interfaith Medical Center and Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn (Hartocollis, 1/27).

The Wall Street Journal’s Metropolis: Cuomo, de Blasio Push Plan To Save Brooklyn Health-Care
Once at odds over the fate of Brooklyn’s hospitals, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo were unified on Monday in calling for the federal government to help save the borough’s health-care system. At their first joint press event since Mr. de Blasio was inaugurated, the leaders called on the federal government to approve a $10 billion Medicaid waiver that would help the state improve its outpatient care services and rely less on pricier hospital-based care (Kusisto, 1/27).

The Associated Press: NY Cities’ Mayors Make Pitch For More State Aid
The mayors of New York's biggest cities are looking to state lawmakers for more financial help as they struggle with skyrocketing public pension and health care costs, crumbling infrastructure and expanding school budgets. In an annual rite nicknamed the Tin Cup Brigade, mayors from across the state were in Albany on Monday for a joint legislative hearing on local government aid, the first of 13 hearings on various areas of the 2014-15 state budget (Esch, 1/28).

The Dallas Morning News: State Regulators Handed Most – And Biggest – Fines To Dallas-Area Hospitals In 2013
Dallas-area hospitals drew the most fines from Texas state health enforcers last year. The most frequent bullseye: Parkland Memorial Hospital. The taxpayer-funded institution paid three of the 12 fines levied statewide, totaling $20,000. Parkland was cited for deficiencies in nursing, patient care assessments, and for failing to pay a previous penalty, among other issues. The fines aren’t necessarily a reliable snapshot of a hospital’s recent performance (Moffeit, 1/27).

The Associated Press: SC Medicaid Agency Posts Hospitals’ Financial Data
The state's Medicaid agency on Monday introduced an easy-to-navigate website showing the financial data of South Carolina's 60 hospitals that will eventually allow patients to comparison shop for health care. The agency's multi-stage project is aimed at bringing transparency to health care costs, ultimately driving costs down, by posting data online so that it's easy to access and interpret, said Director Tony Keck (Adcox, 1/27).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Va. Republicans Call For Medicaid Audit
Republican lawmakers are proposing a new audit of the state’s Medicaid program, which Gov. Terry McAuliffe wants to expand. GOP leaders reiterated their stance at a Capitol news conference Monday that they don’t think Medicaid is going to expand this year (1/27).

The Richmond Times-Dispatch: House GOP Leaders Urge Audit Of Medicaid Program
Republican leaders in the House of Delegates want to wait two years for the results of an audit of Virginia’s Medicaid program before deciding whether to extend coverage to hundreds of thousands of uninsured Virginians. But Virginia hospitals face a different deadline in mid-2016 -- a “cliff” that will mean a sharp drop-off in federal support for the care of indigent patients, especially at Virginia Commonwealth University Health System and the University of Virginia Health System. A top state Medicaid official told a Senate subcommittee Monday that once that happens, Virginia will have two alternatives -- stop fully funding indigent care at the two academic medical centers and more than 30 private hospitals, or “begin to pay more with state funds than federal dollars” (Martz, 1/28).

Kansas Health Institute: Kansas Nurses To Push For More Independence From Doctors
Kansas’ growing doctor shortage could be addressed by allowing nurses with advanced skills to work more independently of physicians, say those advocating a change in state law that would allow that to happen. Currently under Kansas law, advanced practice registered nurses (or APRNs) must work under a so-called "collaborative practice agreement" with a supervising doctor before providing health care services within the nurse’s certified level of training (Cauthon, 1/27).

Miami Herald: Jackson Health Trust Votes To Phase Out Unpopular Health Care Contribution
A tentative labor deal with Jackson Health System employees lost some luster Monday when the board that runs Miami-Dade’s public hospital network agreed to phase out an unpopular pay concession but held off voting on performance bonuses for workers (Chang, 1/27).

The Texas Tribune: “Undue Burden” At Issue In Texas Abortion Case
As provisions of Texas' new abortion law await their fate at a federal appeals court, judges will have to decide whether the restrictions present an "undue burden" on women seeking the procedure (Zaragovia, 1/27).

Reuters: Florida’s Top Court Puts Medical Marijuana Initiative On November Ballot
Florida voters will decide in November whether to legalize medical marijuana after the state Supreme Court on Monday approved an initiative to put the measure on the ballot. Florida's Republican Party leadership had opposed the wording of the ballot measure, saying it was too vague and misleading and that it would allow almost anyone to obtain marijuana for the slightest medical complaint (Cotterell, 1/27).

NPR: More Cities Mandate Paid Sick Leave
This month, Rhode Island became the third state to offer workers paid family leave. That's time off to care for a new baby or a loved one. Portland, Oregon, and Jersey City, New Jersey, are the latest in a small wave of cities mandating paid sick leave (Ludden, 1/28). 

Georgia Health News: State Moves Swiftly To Adjust Employee Plan
A state agency offered some financial relief to state employees and teachers Monday by approving changes in their health plan at a specially called board meeting. The sudden action by the Department of Community Health board follows a deluge of complaints from members of the State Health Benefit Plan, which also covers other school personnel, state retirees and dependents. The special meeting and new changes also came in the wake of Gov. Nathan Deal’s comments last week about the uproar. He said then that the 650,000 members of the health plan could see more choice of insurance providers for 2015 (Miller, 1/27).

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