State Roundup: Calif. To Drop Hospital Report Cards
News outlets report on a variety of state health policy news.
Kaiser Health News: Calif. Hospital Report Cards Likely To Go Away
The project was considered a pioneering effort when it started in 2004, but Jan Emerson-Shea, a spokesperson for the California Hospital Association, says the report cards have outlived their usefulness. "Today there are numerous places consumers can get information on the quality of care delivered by hospitals," Emerson-Shea says. "Public reporting has very much come of age at this point in time." As a result, the California Hospital Association recently sent a letter to the California Hospital Assessment and Reporting Taskforce, which oversees the scorecards, announcing its intention to withdraw from the project (Varney, 12/4). This story is part of a partnership that includes Kaiser Health News, NPR and KQED.
The Wall Street Journal: Access To Doctors Varies Widely Across Neighborhoods
A new report that offers the most comprehensive snapshot of New Yorkers' access to primary-care services to date finds that the availability and use of medical services varies strikingly within neighborhoods across the five boroughs, particularly with primary care (Wang, 12/5).
Denver Post: Dentistry Practice Shut Down By Colorado Reopens As Nonprofit To Serve Nursing Homes
A businessman who brought dentistry to nursing homes managed to grow his company to 10,000 patients in 68 homes before the state shut him down for violating a key tenet in protecting doctor-patient relationships: Only dentists can own a dental practice. That 2010 "cease and desist" order from the state dental board didn't keep him closed for long, though. Within three months, Kenneth Kucera registered a new operation under a new name with the secretary of state's office. This time, he filed as a nonprofit, using an exemption in state law that lets a non-dentist own a dental practice (Brown, 12/4).
Modern Healthcare: Proposal Would Tap ACOs, Health Plans To Cover New York's Dual-Eligibles
Under a proposal to overhaul New York's safety-net financing, the state would contract with accountable care organizations or health plans for seniors who are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid. The proposal would affect roughly 700,000 New York seniors and would require a waiver from the CMS, said a work group that released its proposals for the state's ongoing task force to redesign Medicaid (Evans, 12/4).
The Baltimore Sun: Health Department Proposes Abortion Regulations
In response to a botched abortion last year that led to a semiconscious teenager being transported to a hospital in the back of a Chevy Malibu, the state health department has proposed the first regulations on Maryland's nearly 20-year-old abortion law. The rules announced Friday are meant to increase oversight of surgical abortion clinics, which are not currently held to the same standards as other outpatient surgery facilities (Kilar, 12/3).
Boston Globe: Shrinking Safety Net Meets Wider Toxic Risk
Programs to fight lead poisoning in Massachusetts have been slashed during the past two years because of squeezed state and federal budgets, and now Congress is poised to eliminate the remaining federal aid -- even as scientists last month concluded that the toxic metal can harm children at half the levels previously thought. The new cuts would hit Massachusetts especially hard because the state has some of the nation's oldest housing, much of it with dangerous levels of deteriorating lead paint. Children here are more likely to suffer lead poisoning than in all but five other states, according to the latest federal data (Abel, 12/5).
Minneapolis Star Tribune: Mayo Takes Patent Case To U.S. Supreme Court
The Mayo Clinic will arrive at the U.S. Supreme Court this week hoping to resolve a centuries-old argument -- can patent protection be applied to a medical or scientific idea? The point of contention for Mayo is a diagnostic test that allows doctors to measure how individuals absorb a particular type of medicine and use the results to immediately adjust dosages so they are most effective. A California medical laboratory bought the rights to the concept and successfully filed for a patent. The company claimed patent infringement in a lawsuit when Mayo tried to introduce a similar version of the test (Spencer, 12/4).
Georgia Health News: Clinical Drug Trials -- A Growth Industry In Georgia
Biopharmaceutical companies are conducting or have conducted more than 3,600 clinical trials of new drugs in the state, according to a new report from PhRMA, a trade group for the brand-name pharmaceutical industry. ... Despite the state's economic troubles in recent years, bioscience employment has remained steady in Georgia (Miller, 12/2).
The Connecticut Mirror: With Contracts In Limbo, Healthcare Advocate Urges Action By Insurers, Hospital Network
Healthcare Advocate Victoria Veltri has called on the parent company of two eastern Connecticut hospitals and three insurers to resolve their ongoing contract talks. ... On Thursday, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield notified members that its contract with Eastern Connecticut Health Network, which includes Manchester Memorial and Rockville General hospitals, is expiring Dec. 31. If the two sides don't reach a new agreement, Anthem members who get care at the hospitals would have to pay higher out-of-network rates (Levin Becker, 12/2).
KUHF (Houston): Hospital District Bursting At The Seams
Despite opening six new clinics in the past five years, the public health system can't keep up. ... Surveys have repeatedly shown that a third of adults in Harris County have no health insurance. For most of them, the Hospital District is the medical safety net. .... This is the first time the Hospital District has been able to quantify the extent of the problem (Feibel, 12/5).
New Hampshire Public Radio: Medicaid Tax Confusion Hits November Revenues
Up until this budget, the state essentially reimbursed hospitals the cost of what’s called the Medicaid Enhancement Tax. When lawmakers put the budget to bed in June, they ended that practice, which cost hospitals $120 million a year. A coalition of hospitals is now suing the state over those changes. In the meantime, the Medicaid Enhancement Tax bill has come due (Gorenstein, 12/2).