KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Roundup: Budgets Cause Layoffs In Wash., End Of Calif. Adult Day Care

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

The Seattle Times: Widespread Layoffs Hit State Government
For the first time anyone can recall, state government employment has shrunk for two years in a row due to budget cuts, shedding nearly 4,700 full-time jobs since 2009. That's more than 7 percent of the workforce. State figures show the biggest job losses have occurred in King, Pierce and Thurston counties. … [The Department of Social and Health Services] has been hit harder than any other state agency in terms of the sheer number of positions cut — 2,400 full-time jobs since 2009, roughly 13 percent of its workforce, according to numbers from the governor's budget office. Agency officials say the workload for the remaining employees has increased as jobs have been cut, and that often translates into longer waits for people who need help (Garber, 8/22). 

The Texas Tribune: State Cuts Mean Fewer Residency Slots in Texas
Throughout the month of August, The Texas Tribune is featuring 31 ways Texans' lives will change come Sept. 1, the date most bills passed by the Legislature — including the dramatically reduced budget — take effect. ... lawmakers severely cut funding for some residency programs at a time when demand for doctors in Texas is ever-growing (8/22).

California Healthline: Letter Out, Senate ADHC Hearing Set for Thursday
The Department of Health Care Services has sent 26,000 notification letters to adult day health care program participants in California, notifying them that ADHC no longer will be a Medi-Cal benefit as of Dec. 1. Beneficiaries have until Oct. 1 to choose a managed care plan or opt to remain in a fee-for-service day center (Gorn, 8/22). 

The Associated Press/Houston Chronicle: Planned Parenthood Responds In Lawsuit
Attorneys for Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri asked a federal judge on Monday to require Kansas to pay the group quarterly with federal funds for non-abortion services. Planned Parenthood has filed suit to block a provision of the state budget aimed at preventing the organization from receiving any of the state's share of federal family planning dollars. Monday's filing in Wichita asks U.S. District J. Thomas Marten to require the state to make payments to the group as it has previously. The brief was filed in response to a request by the state that it pay Planned Parenthood monthly and only for services provided (Milburn, 8/22).  

Los Angeles Times: Hospital-Related Infections Drop Under California Initiative
Scores of California hospitals, under pressure to reduce infections that kill an estimated 12,000 patients every year, say they have managed to cut costs and save lives through an initiative that has nurses and doctors redoubling efforts to prevent deadly germs from taking root (Helfand, 8/23).

WBUR: Price List Could Be A Radical Medical Tool
A one-page list of 56 common medical tests and procedures could shake up the way doctors deliver care at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Why? Because there’s a price next to each item. Such lists are very unusual. Most doctors have no idea what they are spending when they order care for patients — and finding out is an eye-opening experience (Bebinger, 8/23). 

MinnPost: Political Ads Are Already Popping Up In Minnesota
Several groups have combined to spend more than $150,000 to oppose or support members of Minnesota's congressional delegation and their votes on issues from the debt limit to a Republican budget plan and President Obama's health-care reform law, which passed during the last Congress (Henry, 8/19). 

The Associated Press/Washington Post: So. Calif. Grocery Union Leaders To Resume Bargaining After Members OK Strike Authorization
Rick Icaza, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 770, said Monday that the weekend's vote by more than 90 percent of those who cast ballots to rebuff Vons', Ralphs' and Albertsons' health proposal show the chains how serious workers are about pushing for a better deal (8/22).

The Baltimore Sun: Hopkins Gets $30 Million To Study Personalized Cancer Medicine
Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center announced Monday that it has established a Center for Personalized Cancer Medicine with a $30 million gift from the Richmond, Va.-based Commonwealth Foundation for Cancer Research. The money will further Hopkins' research into technologies that can pinpoint genetic characteristics of a patient's cancer so therapies can be tailor-made (Cohn, 8/22).

The Boston Globe: Boros To Head Health Care Finance And Policy
The Patrick administration announced this afternoon that Áron Boros, director of federal finance for the state Medicaid office, will become commissioner of the Division of Health Care Finance and Policy. Boros’s job will be a big one. Massachusetts is on the brink of a tectonic shift in how hospitals and doctors are paid, moving from a system that pays per service provided to one focused on whole-patient care. Meanwhile, federal laws taking effect in the next three years could dramatically change how health systems are regulated (Conaboy, 8/22). 

The Associated Press/Fox: Illinois Pulls Health Care Licenses Of Sex Offenders
Illinois yanked the licenses 11 of health care workers Monday citing a new law that bars registered sex offenders and people convicted of violent felonies from working in the field. The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation released the names of the health professionals, including six doctors and five registered nurses, after giving them 20 days to alert the department of any overturned convictions. The law, which took effect over the weekend, allows the state to permanently revoke licenses without holding a hearing (8/22). 

Dallas Morning News: Methodist Health System Plans $135 Million Expansion At Two Dallas Hospitals
Methodist Health System will announce plans on Tuesday to spend $135 million to expand and renovate two southern Dallas County hospitals. The investment is noteworthy given the dearth of health care investments nationwide as hospitals brace for lower reimbursements under health care overhaul rules (Roberson, 8/22). 

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