KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Roundup: Mass. Closing A Mental Hospital; Adult Day Care In Calif.

News outlets report on a variety of state health care issues.

WBUR's CommonHealth blog: Mass. To Close Taunton State Hospital, Move Beds Elsewhere
The Department of Mental Health plans to close Taunton State Hospital, one of the six state-run psychiatric hospitals in Massachusetts by the end of this year. The move is part of a plan to redistribute the placement of patients with chronic and severe mental illness as a large new state hospital opens in Worcester this summer (Goldberg, 1/24). 

Boston Globe: State To Close Taunton Facility For Mentally Ill
But advocates for the mentally ill and officials from the nurses union decried the closing of the hospital. They pointed out that it is one of six remaining state mental health hospitals and that the system would have a net loss of 125 beds since fiscal 2010, when the state closed Westborough State Hospital (Abel, 1/24).

The Sacramento Bee: Sacramento County Case Over Mental Health Care Settled
Advocates who sued Sacramento County in 2010 to preserve continuity of care for mental health care recipients in the face of budget cuts announced a settlement in the case Monday. The agreement means about 5,000 adults with significant psychiatric disabilities can continue to get outpatient services from their existing contract providers … The county, facing a budget deficit, had sought to save money by opening mental health clinics staffed by its own employees (Kalb, 1/24).

The Dallas Morning News: Safety Monitors Find Numerous Problems At Parkland, Hospital Officials Say
Parkland Memorial Hospital officials offered the first public glimpse Tuesday of the broad scope of problems uncovered by federally imposed safety monitors who have combed through the county facility for about three months. Deficiencies were found throughout the public hospital — from food services to outpatient clinics to the emergency room and pharmacy — although the specific failures were not described(Jacobson and Moffeit, 1/24).

San Francisco Chronicle: PACE Program A New Approach To Senior Health Care
Juggling Maria Inez Gamez's medications and care became too difficult for her granddaughter and other family members ... They discovered San Francisco's On Lok Lifeways, where the 83-year-old woman could be supervised by professionals during the day and have her health needs managed at the same time. On Lok ... became the model for the Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly, or PACE ... [State budget woes,] in addition to growing interest from state and federal government to provide better and less costly care, have caused policymakers to take a closer look at programs like On Lok (Colliver, 1/25).

Related, earlier KHN story: Innovative Day-Care Program Seeks To Keep Frail, Low-Income Seniors In Their Homes and video: Elder Care: Picking Up The PACE (Jaffe, 12/21/10)

California Healthline: Judge Calls ADHC Settlement A Win-Win
A federal judge yesterday gave her official stamp of approval to last month's settlement of a lawsuit challenging the state's transition plan for adult day health care services. ... During yesterday's hearing, U.S. District Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong said the settlement outcome was actually better than it would have been if the case went to trial and DRC eventually won it (Gorn, 1/25). 

WBUR's CommonHealth blog: Insurers Shrink Hospital Pricing Gap
There's a big difference between what high cost and low cost hospitals are paid in Massachusetts even though the quality of care, according to several reports, is often the same. An ultrasound might cost $2500 at one hospital, for example, and $1000 at another. But there are several proposals on the table that would start to close the price gulf. Now the state's largest insurers say they are taking steps as well as they negotiate hospital contracts (Bebinger, 1/24). 

The Texas Tribune: Abuse Reports Spur Questioning of Texas' Hospital System
The revelation last year that the Texas state hospital system employed three doctors with a documented history of inappropriate behavior has lawmakers again investigating alleged abuse within the much-maligned system.  ... "Staff will [now] only provide individual treatment services that allow for direct observation by other staff," said Mike Maples, the state's assistant commissioner for mental health and substance abuse services (Philpott, 1/25).

California Watch: Disbanding Of Nursing Board Raises Questions About Public Protection
The state Board of Registered Nursing ceased to exist this year due to an October veto by Gov. Jerry Brown, and now stark disagreement is emerging over whether the public is adequately protected from nurses who need drug treatment or limits on their practice or to be stopped altogether (Jewett, 1/25). 

Georgia Health News: Georgia Tops Nation In Wait For HIV Drug Help
The number of people on the waiting list for the state's AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) stood at 1,348 on Jan. 19. Florida's waiting list is the second-longest at 1,109, according to figures compiled by the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors. ADAP serves HIV-infected people who have low or moderate incomes and no health insurance (Miller, 1/24).

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