KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Roundup: UMass Bone Marrow Registry Practices Probed; Insurance Woes Hit Many Calif. Middle Income Families

News outlets reported on a variety of state developments.

NPR: Mass., N.H., Take Aim At Bone Marrow Registry
Bone marrow registries are usually noble efforts to find donors with the right genetic match to save the life of a terminally ill person, but one such program in New England is under investigation by attorneys general in two states (Greenberg, 12/17).

The Boston Globe/Worcester Telegram & Gazette: Officials Rip Health Chain's Aggressive Bone-Marrow Campaign
UMass Memorial Health Care Inc.'s use of pricey models in short skirts and spike heels to entice people to sign up for its bone marrow registry, while allegedly misleading consumers about the cost of testing, has drawn scrutiny of the hospital chain from authorities in New Hampshire (Caywood, 12/17).

McClatchy/The Sacramento Bee: More Middle Income Families Going Without Health Insurance
As more Americans lose health coverage because of unemployment, the latest snapshot of the uninsured reveals a grim picture: It's not just the poor and unemployed who now go without health insurance. About a third of California's uninsured had family incomes of more than $50,000 a year in 2009, according to the California HealthCare Foundation (Calvan, 12/17).

San Francisco Chronicle: Bleak Health Care Scenario On Retirees
A new report from the (San Francisco) controller's office shows the city has an unfunded health care liability of $4.36 billion. That means it'll cost that much to pay the promised health care benefits for every current employee and retiree -- and that number will keep growing as health care costs rise. By 2033, the tab will be a whopping $9.7 billion (Knight, Lagos, Coté and Gordon, 12/17).

Texas Tribune: Advocates Filing Suit Over Disabled In Nursing Homes
Disability rights advocates will file a class-action lawsuit on Monday, alleging that Texas leaders have violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by confining some 4,500 Texans with disabilities in nursing homes (Ramshaw, 12/16).

Connecticut Mirror: Community Health Centers To Play A Key Role In Health Care Reform
(Lawrence Cross, executive director of the Norwalk Community Health Center) sealed up this vision--spelled out in a 200-page grant application to the federal Department of Health and Human Services--in an envelope on Wednesday and sent it off to Washington. His application was one of at least seven that Connecticut's community health centers put in the mail this week. Like Cross's Norwalk facility, each health center hopes to tap into new federal money--up to $650,000 per facility annually for the next two years--that's available under the national health reform law. That law seeks to vastly expand the role of community health centers--federally funded, nonprofit clinics that provide care to low-income people and those in medically under-served areas. CHCs also get critical funding from state governments and private sources (Shesgreen, 12/16).

WBUR: Doctors Prepare For The Next Wave In Health Care
Some doctors across (Massachusetts) are changing the way they care for patients. They're getting ready for the move away from paying for every visit or medical test towards giving doctors a lump sum for patient care. It's a move to lower health care costs by paying doctors to keep patients healthy, not just treat them when they are sick (Bebinger, 12/17).

The Arizona Republic: Arizona Medical Marijuana Proposed Rules Released
The state health department released its first draft of medical-marijuana rules late Thursday, providing a glimpse at how the program may work in Arizona. The rules spell out who may qualify for medical marijuana, establish operating criteria for dispensaries and provide strict guidelines for doctors who may recommend marijuana (Lee, 12/16).

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