KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Highlights: Mixed Reaction To New Telehealth Guideline

A selection of health policy stories from California, Connecticut, Georgia, Florida and Kansas.

Modern Healthcare:  Newly Approved Telehealth Guideline Causes A Stir 
The Federation of State Medical Boards approved a model telehealth policy this weekend that's made some providers of these services happy and others, well, not so much, because of its emphasis on using video rather than audio technology for a first patient visit (Conn, 4/28).

Los Angeles Times: State To Provide $75 Million In Mental Health Grants
State Treasurer Bill Lockyer has announced the approval of $75.3 million in grants that aim to stabilize residents with severe mental illness before they land in jails or hospitals. The grants will go to 28 counties for new or expanded services. They will add 827 residential mental health beds and crisis "stabilization" beds, and pay for more than three dozen vehicles and five dozen staff members for mobile support teams, which often accompany local law enforcement to defuse tense situations and direct those in need to care. More than half of the funding -- $40.9 million -- will go to Los Angeles County, which plans 16 new residential crisis care facilities, each with room for 16 adult residents, including those who are also struggling with substance abuse (Romney, 4/28). 

The CT Mirror: The Basics: How The Nurse Practitioner Bill Could Change Health Care
The state House has given final approval to a controversial bill that would give nurse practitioners more independence, a measure that both supporters and opponents say could have a major effect on health care in Connecticut. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, whose administration proposed the measure, is expected to sign it. The proposal would allow nurse practitioners to practice independent of doctors after they’ve worked for at least three years in collaboration with a physician (Becker, 4/28).

Georgia Health News: South Behind Other Regions In Health, Report Says
Southerners have high rates of chronic disease such as diabetes and are more likely to be uninsured than people in other regions, a newly released report says. And nearly one-quarter of Southerners report they do not have a usual source of health care. That’s significantly higher than for adults in the Midwest and Northeast, though it’s similar to the rate for residents in the West. The Kaiser Foundation “issue brief” was prepared for a March meeting of health care stakeholders from the South and around the nation, held at the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta (Miller, 4/28).

The California Health Report: ACA Offers Critical Support For Foster Kids
Behind the first wave of pain came fear. It wasn’t just the agony of a shattered pelvis that terrified Jimmy Dion as he lay in the street that day last December. It was having no insurance. A driver had cut him off, and he’d swerved to miss her, but his handlebar caught in the wheel well of a truck. … And on the day of the accident, Dion had just turned 23, well past the age limit on the Medi-Cal health insurance that California extends to most youths who become wards of the state (Richard, 4/28).

The Miami Herald:  Compromise Elusive On HCA Trauma Centers
The Florida Senate approved its version of the trauma center legislation on Monday with a 33-3 vote. In addition to clearing the way for trauma centers at Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point, Blake Medical Center and Ocala Regional Medical Center to remain open, the measure creates a one-year $15,000 cap on trauma activation fees, a one-year moratorium on new trauma centers and creates an advisory committee to make recommendations for approving new trauma centers. The fee cap, moratorium and advisory committee were added after a Tampa Bay Times investigation revealed hospitals across the state were charging huge admission fees to trauma patients, and the highest charges were at HCA facilities (Mitchell, 4/28).

The Miami Herald:  South Florida Memory Centers Focus On Improving Early Alzheimer’s Symptoms
For a disease called “epidemic” by the Florida Department of Elder Affairs, that leaves much of the support in Miami-Dade County to memory centers and two state-designated memory disorder clinics -- the Wien Center and University of Miami’s Memory Disorders Center at the Miller School of Medicine. Memory centers offer free cognitive workups that can reveal reasons for memory changes other than Alzheimer’s, from benign tumors to small strokes or depression (Borns, 4/28).

Kansas Health Institute:  KanCare Companies Lost Money In First Year
The state’s three prime KanCare contractors each lost money in their first year managing health care for the 380,000 Kansas Medicaid enrollees, but received cash infusions from their parent companies that allowed them to meet their contract obligations and stay solvent. That’s according to information included in the draft of the first annual report on KanCare submitted by state officials to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The draft report was made public Friday afternoon as Gov. Sam Brownback was in Lenexa for a press conference describing his plan to reduce the waiting list for in-home Medicaid services using money from “KanCare dividends” the state has reaped (Shields, 4/28).

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