Roundup: Fla. Officials Probe Report On Disabled Children In Nursing Homes
News outlets report on a variety of health issues in California, Colorado, Florida, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Oregon.
Kaiser Health News: The Great Fluoride Debate In Portland
Over jeers and cheers from the audience, commissioners on the Portland, Ore., City Council voted Wednesday to add fluoride to the city's drinking water starting in 2014. Portland is the largest American city that doesn't add fluoride to its drinking water. But some groups have raised questions about the possible risks from fluoridation and oppose its use (Foden-Vencil, 9/12).
Miami Herald: State Denies Forcing Disabled Kids Into Nursing Homes
Florida healthcare administrators will visit hundreds of medically fragile children living in geriatric nursing homes, and speak with their parents, to determine whether families are being forced to abandon their youngsters in institutions, as federal civil rights lawyers are claiming. Almost a week after the U.S. Justice Department's Civil Rights Division released a grim report that accused the state of warehousing sick and disabled children in adult nursing homes, the leaders of two state health agencies insisted the state was in "full compliance" with federal laws that require governments to house and treat disabled people in community settings, whenever possible (Marbin Miller, 9/12).
The Associated Press: Fla. Health Officials Denounce Allegations
Florida health officials are sending staff to visit more than 200 disabled children living in nursing homes, days after federal investigators accused the state of unnecessarily sending medically needy kids to adult facilities. Florida Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Liz Dudek said she dispatched staff Tuesday to visit the nursing homes and will also meet with parents to make sure they feel the child is in the best place (Kennedy, 9/12).
The Associated Press: Florida Will Privatize Nearly 3,000 Prison Jobs
Florida is moving ahead with a plan to privatize nearly 3,000 (health care) jobs in the state's prisons despite a promise by one of the state's main unions to ask a court to block the move. A legislative panel on Wednesday approved a proposal by the administration of Gov. Rick Scott to spend nearly $58 million in order to privatize prison health care operations by January (Fineout, 9/12).
Miami Herald: Panel Okays Privatizing Inmate Health Care
A union for state workers is racing to sue Florida after lawmakers cleared the way Wednesday to privatize health care in prisons. ... The lawsuit could be filed as early as Thursday, said Doug Martin, spokesman for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, known as AFSCME. About 2,600 state workers who provide prescriptions, mental health and other medical services to prisoners find their jobs and benefits in limbo over the deal (Davis, 9/13).
Related KHN coverage: States Efforts To Outsource Prison Health Care Come Under Scrutiny
Minneapolis Star Tribune: Fairview Violated Federal Laws With Billing Practices
Strong-armed billing practices at the University of Minnesota Medical Center violated federal patient-protection laws, regulators have concluded after reviewing a range of incidents involving emergency room patients and others in fragile medical condition. The findings, which stem from Fairview's relationship with a Chicago-based consulting firm, put the hospital at risk of being terminated from Medicare and Medicaid, the ultimate penalty the federal government can impose. But a state official who is still investigating on behalf of the federal agency that runs Medicare said the Fairview-owned university hospital has ample time to correct its deficiencies and avoid sanctions (Kennedy, 9/13).
Crain's Business Insurance: Massachusetts Boosts Surcharges On Hospital Bills
Massachusetts regulators have slightly increased the surcharge on services received at hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers in the state. The surcharge, which applies to bills paid on or after Oct. 1, will be 1.87%, up from 1.75%. The surcharge increase, announced by the Massachusetts Division of Health Care Finance & Policy, is imposed on third-party claims administrators, health maintenance organizations, preferred provider organizations and self-insured employers that administer their own health care plans (Geisel, 9/12).
Kansas City Star/Wichita Eagle: Kansas Lawmakers Fume Over Official's Silence On Disability Waiting Lists
Kansas lawmakers bristled Wednesday over a top official's refusal to answer questions about the growing list of people with disabilities who are waiting for in-home or community-based services. Gary Haulmark, commissioner of community services and programs in the Department for Aging and Disability Services, said a state lawyer told him not to discuss the waiting lists because of pending litigation. The lists have led to a federal civil rights inquiry and the potential for the U.S. attorney's office to sue the state (Wistrom, 9/12).
Health Policy Solutions (a Colo. news service): Ill-Equipped College Students Flood Counseling Centers
(At) Colorado campuses and universities across the country, deans, researchers and behavioral health experts have been seeing spikes in recent years in visits to counselors and mental health facilities. Incoming students are arriving in poor emotional health aggravated by academic and financial pressures. … Dean's research and surveys from the American College Health Association have found that 75 percent of students reported experiencing stress; nearly half said they were dealing with anxiety; and 25 percent said they had been depressed in the last year (Kerwin McCrimmon, 9/12).
California Healthline: Legislative Help For Long-Term Care?
The SCAN Foundation today released results of a survey on long-term care readiness in California. It wasn't pretty: Roughly half of the poll respondents said they will need long-term care for a close family member within the next five years. About half of the poll respondents said they cannot afford even one month of nursing home care. Almost two-thirds of the registered voters in the poll said they're worried about being able to afford long-term care. A whopping 88% of those polled said legislators should make affordable long-term care a high or moderate priority (Gorn, 9/13).
Kansas Health Institute News: KHIE Board Turns Over Regulatory Duties To State
The board responsible for overseeing the digital exchange of Kansans' health records today unanimously approved transferring its duties to a state agency within a year, provided the Legislature acts to make the transfer legal. If the Legislature amends the law, as is now expected, the functions of the Kansas Health Information Exchange would be transferred to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment by October 2013 (Cauthon, 9/12).