KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Highlights: Ky. Malpractice Bill; DOJ Enters Whistleblower Case

A selection of health policy stories from Kentucky, Texas, Georgia, South Carolina, California, Colorado and Florida.

The Associated Press: Ky. Senate Passes Bill Creating Malpractice Panels
A panel of medical experts would review proposed medical malpractice claims against health care providers before they could be pursued in court under a bill the Kentucky Senate passed Wednesday. The party-line vote in the Republican-led Senate followed a contentious debate on an issue that has drawn powerful interest groups on both sides (Schreiner and Hodge, 2/19).

The Dallas Morning News: Texas Punishes First Clinic And Doctor Under New Abortion Law
For the first time under Texas' new abortion law, the state has penalized a clinic and a doctor for failing to meet requirements. The Department of State Health Services revoked the license of Affordable Women's Medical Center in Houston after finding that the clinic's only provider of abortions, Dr. Theodore M. Herring Jr., did not have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. In addition, the Texas Medical Board temporarily suspended Herring's medical license, pending further action. A provision of the new law, which took effect Nov. 1, requires physicians to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of an abortion clinic and to follow federal protocols when administering abortion-inducing medication (Martin, 2/19).

The Texas Tribune: Senate Hearing Will Assess Progress On Women's Health
The state Senate Health and Human Services Committee will hold a hearing Thursday to assess Texas' efforts to expand access to women's health services across the state. But abortion rights advocates say an essential issue has been left off the agenda -- the impact of strict abortion regulations that the Legislature passed last year (Aaronson, 2/19).

Politico Pro: DOJ Enters Whistleblower Case Against Hospitals
The Department of Justice is jumping into a whistleblower lawsuit against five hospitals suspected of Medicaid and Medicare fraud in Georgia and South Carolina. DOJ alleges the hospitals paid kickbacks to clinics serving low-income women in return for referrals to deliver their babies. Then the hospitals allegedly billed Medicaid programs in Georgia and South Carolina for the services provided to the patients, who were primarily Hispanic undocumented immigrants. Four of the hospitals — Atlanta Medical Center, North Fulton Regional Hospital and Spalding Regional Hospital in Georgia and Hilton Head Hospital in South Carolina — are owned by Tenet Healthcare Corp. Clearview Regional Medical Center is owned by Health Management Associates Inc. (Cunningham, 2/19).

Kaiser Health News: Dental Services Are Coming Back For California's Low-Income Adults
Across the state, many low-income California adults lack dental insurance or access to dental care, threatening their overall health, self-esteem and employability. Many end up with infected gums, decayed teeth and other complications that must be treated in emergency rooms -- at considerable cost to the government (Hernandez, 2/20).

Health News Colorado: Insurance Commissioner, Industry Reps, Consumers Tackle Cost Drivers
Colorado Insurance Commissioner Marguerite Salazar has convened her Health Care Cost Study Group. Salazar appointed industry representatives, health policy cost experts and consumers to the group, which began meeting last week. The Colorado resort region that includes Aspen, Vail and Garfield and Summit counties has the highest health insurance premiums in the nation, according to an analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Earlier this year, Salazar decided not to change Colorado’s geographic rating system for either this year or next. But she wants the study group to produce proposals for reducing health costs and premiums by May (McCrimmon, 2/19).

The Dallas Morning News: Cost Of Care Hit Texans Last Fall
Whether or not they had health insurance, a large number of Texans were struggling with the cost of care last fall, according to a survey released Wednesday. The feelings about affordability came on the eve of the federal government’s stumbling rollout of a health insurance marketplace. ... The September survey of nearly 1,600 Texas households found 27.9 percent of those without health insurance put off medical care last year because of the cost. Among Texans with health insurance, 14.4 percent said they stayed away because of affordability (Landers, 2/19).

Health News Florida: Telemedicine Ready For Legislative Reboot
Ernestine Marshall's every move is being watched: morning, noon and night. Motion-activated sensors are everywhere in her Tampa apartment: on the toilet, the front door, even the kitchen cabinet where she stores medications help manage her multiple sclerosis. … Marshall's experience is just one way technology that didn't exist a few years ago is changing how Americans are dealing with chronic conditions and acute disease (Shedden, 2/20).

Stateline: States Combat Overdose Deaths
Overdoses are the No. 1 accidental killer of Americans 25 to 64 years old, surpassing even traffic deaths. Now states are taking action to prevent some of those deaths, many of which are attributable to heroin and the illegal use of prescription pain medications. Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have passed "Good Samaritan" laws that grant limited immunity to drug users who seek help for someone who has overdosed, according to the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH), a nonpartisan research and advocacy group based in Washington, D.C. The same number have expanded access to the medication naloxone (also known by its brand name Narcan), which can quickly reverse the effects of opioid overdoses and restore breathing to a stricken person (Ollove, 2/20).

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