KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Ark. Court Reverses $1.2B Medicaid Ruling; Fla. Overhaulings Child Welfare

The New York Times: Arkansas Court Reverses $1.2 Billion Judgment Against Johnson & Johnson
The Arkansas Supreme Court reversed a $1.2 billion judgment against Johnson & Johnson on Thursday, finding that the state attorney general erred by suing under a law that applied to health care facilities, not drug companies. The judgment, one of the largest in history for a state fraud case, was imposed in 2012 after a jury concluded that Johnson & Johnson had improperly marketed and concealed the risks of Risperdal, an antipsychotic drug (Thomas, 3/2).

The Associated Press: Arkansas Court Tosses $1.2B Judgment Against J&J
The Arkansas Supreme Court tossed out a $1.2 billion judgment against Johnson & Johnson on Thursday, reversing a lower court verdict that found the drug maker engaged in fraudulent tactics when marketing the antipsychotic drug Risperdal. The high court ruled the state's Medicaid fraud law, which formed the basis of Arkansas' lawsuit, regulates health care facilities and that drug manufacturers, including Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary, Janssen Pharmaceutical Inc., don't fall under its scope (Bartels, 3/20).

The Wall Street Journal: Child-Abuse Deaths Prompt Lawmakers To Weigh Overhauls
In some cases, [Department of Children and Families] documents show the agency left kids with caregivers about whom it had logged multiple warning signs. The string of deaths triggered public outcry, plunged the state's child-welfare system into crisis and led to the resignation of the DCF secretary in July. Now, the Florida Legislature has made overhauling the system one of its top priorities in the session that began earlier this month (Campo-Flores, 3/20).

The Wall Street Journal: Arizona 'Abortion Pill' Rule Faces Challenge
A federal court next week is set to hear a challenge to a new Arizona regulation that would require so-called abortion pills to be administered under a protocol that abortion-rights activists say is outdated and overly restrictive (Phillips, 3/20).

St. Louis Public Radio: Building A Pipeline Of Doctors To Help The Shortage In Missouri's Rural Communities
For someone who was clueless about what he wanted to do after finishing high school, Luke Stephens has done quite well in life. He’s now Dr. Luke Stephens, with a degree in cell and molecular biology from Missouri State University in 2004, and a medical degree from the University of Missouri at Columbia. Stephens, who is in his early 30s, is a primary care doctor who specializes in rural medicine. He’s the product of a special University of Missouri program that trains more doctors to help Missouri plug some of the holes in its primary care system in rural communities (Joiner, 3/20).

The Seattle Times: $34 Million Saved In Effort To Cut Needless ER Visits
After a contentious beginning, the state Medicaid program and a coalition of doctors and hospitals together forged a plan that helped cut nearly $34 million from expensive, unnecessary emergency-room visits last year, both sides announced Thursday. The seven-point plan included connecting hospital emergency departments across the state so doctors can check if a patient is making multiple ER visits, perhaps getting duplicate scans and other tests, as they seek drugs or relief from a chronic condition better managed in a primary-care setting (Ostrom, 3/20).

Minnesota Public Radio: A Gap Opens In Rural Mental Health Care
A mental-health provider that served thousands of people in five counties shut down early this week, abruptly creating a gap in service to rural Minnesota. Riverwood Centers operated clinics in Milaca, Cambridge, Mora, Braham, Pine City and North Branch. Kevin Wojahn, Riverwood's former executive director, told MPR News that the organization ran out of money (3/20).

The CT Mirror: CT Lawmakers, Wary Of Changing Health Care Landscape, Consider Restrictions On For-Profit Hospitals
With four of Connecticut's 28 nonprofit hospitals facing potential acquisitions by a for-profit chain, legislators are under siege from competing interests. Hospital officials say the survival of some Connecticut hospitals depends on having the ability to convert to for-profits, something that requires a change in state law. Union leaders want sweeping protections for workers in case hospitals change hands. Some union leaders and consumer advocates want an outright ban on hospitals becoming for-profit. And so far, the proposals advancing through the legislature suggest the critics of for-profit health care have the upper hand (Becker, 3/21).

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