KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Highlights: Calif. Nurse Union In Contract Fight; Personhood Measure In Colo.; Md. Transgender Coverage

A selection of health policy stories from California, Colorado, Maryland, Kansas, Missouri, Washington state and Minnesota.

Kaiser Health News: California Nurses Union Braces For Contract Battle
But this is no church service, and nurses are not here to worship. The California Nurses Association is rousing its troops for battle. California’s powerful nurses’ union will begin bargaining next week with Kaiser Permanente on a new four-year contract for nurses at its Northern California hospitals. (Kaiser Health News is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.) Kaiser operates the largest hospital system in the state, by number of hospitals and number of hospital beds, and is the eighth largest health system in the country (Dembosky, 7/22).  

Denver Post: Rally Against Personhood Measure Held At Colorado Capitol
A ballot measure that would change wording in the Colorado Criminal Code and Wrongful Death Act to include unborn human beings drew opponents and supporters to the state Capitol on Tuesday, with both sides vehemently arguing the initiative's eventual endgame. The rally was sponsored by a wide-reaching coalition of political, medical and religious interests who decried Amendment 67 as an attempt to effectively ban abortions and a woman's ability to make her own health care decisions (Cotton, 7/22).

Baltimore Sun: Maryland Shifts Insurance Policy to Cover Transition-Related Care of Transgender Employees
In a reversal of state health care policy, transgender state employees in Maryland can now access gender reassignment surgery, hormone therapy and other transition-related care under their state-provided health insurance plans. The change quietly went into effect at the start of this month as the result of legal negotiations in a discrimination case brought against the state by Sailor Holobaugh, a 31-year-old clinical research assistant in neurology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore (Rector, 7/22).

Kansas City Public Media: Kansas Docs Say Plan For Transplant Waits Would Make Patients Sicker
For the past several years, the United Network for Organ Sharing, or UNOS, which coordinates transplants nationally, has been studying ways to address liver transplant disparities by changing the way donated livers are allocated and shifting some organs away from healthier patients and toward sicker ones. Today, most livers donated in Kansas and the western part of Missouri are used locally, with about 40 percent going to nearby areas of the Midwest and a few outside the region. UNOS is considering a change from this mostly local allocation strategy to a more regional, or even national, approach. Under some of the plans being studied, organs donated in Kansas City would be sent much more often to places as far away as Phoenix, Minneapolis and Salt Lake City, depending on where they're needed most (Smith, 7/22).

Seattle Times: Hospital System Stops Affiliation With Small Hospitals In Washington State 
PeaceHealth, a Catholic health-care system, has delayed indefinitely its planned affiliations with small hospitals in Snohomish and Skagit counties, citing higher-than-expected costs in the effort to roll out a medical information-technology system. Nancy Steiger, PeaceHealth CEO and chief mission officer for its Northwest network, said PeaceHealth could not make a final commitment at this time to Cascade Valley Hospital in Arlington or Skagit Regional Health in Mount Vernon. Just a few weeks ago,  PeaceHealth realized the heavy lifting to integrate systems with the two hospitals would come at the exact same time as the push to get the Epic medical information-technology system up and running in PeaceHealth’s hospitals around the region, Steiger said in an interview Tuesday (Ostrom, 7/22).

Minnesota Public Radio: Is Minn. Medical Technology Industry In Decline?
Once a bastion for the medical device industry, Minnesota may be losing its competitive edge. … The Daily Circuit looks at the health of our state's medical technology companies, and how changing industry dynamics may have motivated the proposed Medtronic-Covidien merger (7/23).

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