KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Roundup: Okla. Caps ‘Non-Economic Damages’ In Lawsuits

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

Stateline: Republicans Reward Business With Lawsuit Limitations
With Republicans in control of the [Oklahoma] governorship and the Legislature for the first time ever, they swiftly passed a series of changes to the civil justice system. ... Lawmakers put a cap of $350,000 on the amount of money that plaintiffs can recoup for so-called "non-economic damages," such as the pain and suffering caused by medical malpractice, faulty products or other forms of professional negligence. ... At least 18 states have passed legislation in 2011 changing the rules of the civil justice system to favor businesses (Gramlich, 6/22). 

The Washington Post: DC Residents See AIDS As City's Biggest Health Problem
Despite the city's efforts to prevent the spread of the disease and make treatment available, HIV/AIDS tops the list as the District's most urgent health problem, according to a new survey by The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation. More than a third of city residents single out HIV/AIDS - first identified 30 years ago - as the city's biggest health concern. Nationally, cancer and obesity get far more mentions (Fears, Craighill and Arnsdorf, 6/20).

The Texas Tribune: The Last Seven Days: A Special Session Update
With the special session constitutionally limited to 30 days, lawmakers have just a week left to resolve the bills on the call - and a lot of loose ends to wrap up. ... Bill: HB 5 would allow Texas to join with other states in a so-called "health care compact," in which state leaders would ask Congress to grant them control of the purse strings and authority to operate Medicare and Medicaid. ... Bill: HB 13 would allow Texas to petition the Obama administration for a block grant to operate the Medicaid program, which insures poor children, the disabled and impoverished adults (Grissom, Ramshaw et al., 6/22). 

Dallas Morning News: Abortion Battle In Legislature Threatens Health Care Savings Bill
Abortion-rights opponents in the House have threatened to scuttle a comprehensive health care savings bill if negotiators don't add prohibitions against abortions at public hospitals in cases of severe fetal abnormality. Rep. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, said House-Senate negotiators added "horrible language" to the special session's big health care bill last week, arguing that a provision ... "allows for the killing of disabled babies." A conference committee, in weakening a House ban on state funding of public hospitals that perform elective abortions, voted to permit abortions if the fetus has "a severe and irreversible abnormality that is incompatible with life after birth." The House's ban allowed just one exception, if the woman's life was endangered (Garrett, 6/20).

California Healthline: Insurers, Physicians At Odds Over Paper Trail
[SB 866] would require insurers to adopt a standard form, and it would give them a deadline of two business days to respond to medication authorization requests (Gorn, 6/21). 

The Lund Report (Oregon): Healthcare Legislative Roundup
The Oregon Legislature approved numerous bills this week related to healthcare. And Governor John Kitzhaber has begun to sign many into law. ... House Bill 2397 creates a loan forgiveness program for primary care practitioners in the Office of Rural Health. ... Senate Bill 433 expands the eligibility of state medical assistance to all low-income and uninsured women diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer. ... House Bill 2366 directs the Oregon Health Authority to develop a strategic plan for recruiting primary care providers, which includes collaborating with numerous stakeholder groups (Waldroupe, 6/20). 

WBUR's CommonHealth blog: MA Collects $65 Million In Fines From Uninsured Under Health Law
The mandate was included in the health reform law to compel healthy residents, and others who didn't have health insurance, to purchase it. As fines rose from $219 in 2007 to $1212 this year, money collected in fines dropped, which is the way the mandate was supposed to work, says Health Connector director Glen Shor. "Everything we've seen about health reform in Massachusetts is that more and more people are entering into the ranks of the insured,"he said. "It's no surprise to see penalties going down." The $65 million helps fund subsidized coverage for low-and moderate-income residents (Zimmerman and Bebinger, 6/21). 

WBUR's CommonHealth blog: Payment Reform: Panacea Or Debacle? A View From Middle Massachusetts
I'm by no means saying Dr. Wayne Glazier is perfectly representative of Massachusetts doctors. But he's president of a middling-large group of 180 doctors in the middle of the state - the Central Massachusetts Independent Physicians' Association. And he has about five years of experience - some positive, some not - with the sort of risk-sharing global payments that the Patrick administration is now proposing as the centerpiece of the next phase of health care reform here. ... the dominant message I take from Dr. Glazier is one of concern (Goldberg, 6/21). 

The Boston Globe: Fallon Clinic, Atrius Accept Extra Scrutiny To Merge
Fallon Clinic and Atrius Health, two of the state's largest doctor groups, said yesterday that they will join forces, creating a huge doctor-run medical practice that will serve nearly a million Massachusetts patients but also be subject to a new level of oversight by the state. The two medical providers agreed to give Attorney General Martha Coakley the power to review the group's contracts with health insurers and even put pressure on Atrius if its prices jump significantly as a result of the merger (Conaboy, 6/22). 

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