KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Highlights: Calif. Hospital Accused Of Patient Dumping; Wash. Mental Health Changes

Los Angeles Times: L.A. Accuses Glendale Adventist Of Patient Dumping On Skid Row 
Los Angeles City Atty. Mike Feuer has filed a lawsuit accusing Glendale Adventist Medical Center of dumping mentally ill and disabled homeless patients on L.A.'s skid row over the last four years. The six-page complaint, filed Wednesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, said the hospital improperly transported elderly and dependent patients to the downtown Los Angeles neighborhood, a 50-block area "known for extreme poverty, homelessness, rampant sale and use of illegal drugs and violent crime" (Holland, 8/22).

Associated Press: Washington Governor Works To Ease Mental Health Bed Shortage
Gov. Jay Inslee has approved spending as much as $30 million to start meeting a state Supreme Court order to add more psychiatric evaluation and treatment beds around the state, officials said Friday. In addition, state Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a motion Friday asking the high court to delay the effect of its decision by 120 days so the state can implement a plan to ensure alternative care is available. On Aug. 7, the Supreme Court ruled that the practice known as "psychiatric boarding," or holding mentally ill patients in emergency rooms, was unlawful. The state estimates the ruling applies to about 200 people. Right now, the state's understanding is that it has until Aug. 27 to move the patients (8/23).

Modern Healthcare: States Side With FTC Against Health System Acquiring Physician Practice
The attorneys general from 16 states have filed an amicus brief backing the Federal Trade Commission in its closely watched bid to undo an Idaho health system's acquisition of a physician practice. A U.S. district judge in Boise this year ordered St. Luke's Health System to divest Saltzer Medical Group. As providers across the country buy up physician practices to meet the goals of population health management, St. Luke's had tried to argue that the deal is necessary for it to meet the imperatives of health care reform (Kutscher, 8/22).

Los Angeles Times: Cedars-Sinai Reports Possible Breach Of Patients' Medical Data 
Medical records and other data may have been compromised for at least 500 patients at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, the hospital said Friday, after an employee's laptop computer was stolen. The laptop's hard drive may have had some combination of patient data, including information about lab testing, treatment and diagnosis, Cedars-Sinai said in a statement. Some files also contained patient Social Security numbers and other personal information (Garland, 8/22).

Miami Herald: State Seeks Harsher Penalty Against Miami Physician
In a rare move for the Florida Department of Health, agency officials say they intend to appeal a state Board of Medicine decision in the case of Miami physician Peter V. Choy — ordered in June to pay a $30,000 fine and serve a six-month suspension for falsifying a patient’s records after her death to conceal his misdiagnosis of her pancreatic cancer. State officials filed a notice of appeal in July, but the document does not reveal a basis for the action. Pamela Crain, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Health, said officials expect to file documents explaining the state’s legal argument by November. Crain said it’s rare for the Department of Health, which works closely with the medical board, to appeal the board’s final orders (Chang, 8/22).

Associated Press: Lawsuit Argues Medicaid Evaluations Hurt Disabled
Family members of developmentally disabled New Mexicans suing the state say a Medicaid-assessment system puts recipients of services at risk, the Albuquerque Journal reported Sunday. Attorneys for eight families asked a judge Wednesday to halt a new method for evaluating recipients to determine their level of services, which can include 24-hour residential care as well as occupational and speech therapy. More than 4,100 adults are enrolled in the state's developmentally disabled waiver program, known as the DD waiver (8/24).

Health News Colorado: Hopes For Health Cost Cuts High As Commission Launches
Colorado’s new Commission on Affordable Health Care began its work on Friday with grand plans to cut persistently rising health costs within three years. First, however, the group of 12 commissioners and five non-voting members, had to take care of the more basic work of deciding when to meet, who will organize the group, how to hire staff, when to hold meetings, how to launch a website and how much money to spend (Kerwin McCrimmon, 8/22).

The Hill: Issa Demands CMS Recoup Billions From NY
House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Cali.) is demanding that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recover billions in improper Medicaid payments from the state of New York. Issa and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), chairman of the committee’s regulatory subcommittee, wrote to the CMS Thursday urging it to investigate overpayments to the Empire State over the past few decades and recoup as much as possible (Al-Faruque, 8/22). 

WBUR: Even In Mass., Hundreds Of Young Central American Refugees Seek Care
Although the flow has slowed in recent weeks, Central American immigrants are showing up at the Chelsea health center in a steady stream. They reveal their harrowing stories to caregivers only slowly. “We do eventually get the whole story, but it may take a long time,” says pediatrician Kimberly Montez. “We try to do it in ways that don’t uncover things before we’re in a position to address them. We don’t want to pull all this trauma back up and then say, ‘OK, we’ll call you in a few weeks when we can get you a mental health counselor,'" (Knox, 8/22).

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