KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

State Highlights: Mumps Outbreak In Denver; In New York, Boosting Health Workers’ Minimum Wage Tied To Medicaid Rates

News outlets report on health issues in Colorado, New York, Ohio, Illinois, Maryland, Missouri, Vermont, Connecticut, Washington, Minnesota and Puerto Rico.

The Denver Post: Mumps Outbreak Reported By Denver, State Officials; 6 Cases ID'd
A mumps outbreak has prompted alerts to healthcare providers across Colorado, with at least four cases confirmed in Denver and two other probable cases under investigation, authorities said Wednesday. "We usually see about 2.5 cases per year (in the city)," said Dr. Heather Young, an infectious disease physician at Denver Health Medical Center who serves as the hospital's epidemiologist. "This is certainly an increase over what we would usually see." (Paul, 2/24)

The Associated Press: NY Home Care Agencies Urge Medicaid Hike For Higher Wage
Providers of home health care in New York say most of their services are reimbursed through Medicaid and they would need increases to meet Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposal to gradually raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. The Association of Health Care Providers, representing more than 350 licensed home care agencies, says there are hundreds of thousands of home care aides who earn between $10 and $11.50 an hour. The group says the proposed wage hike would cost agencies more than $1.1 billion the first two years. (2/26)

The Chicago Tribune: U. Of I. To Pay $10M Of $30M Medical Malpractice Settlement
The University of Illinois plans to pay $10 million of a proposed $30 million medical malpractice settlement involving a catastrophic brain injury to a Chicago-area toddler due to surgical complications, the Tribune has confirmed. The proposed settlement was reached last week just as a civil trial was about to start in a lawsuit alleging negligence against Dr. Mark Holterman, a pediatric surgeon. The lawsuit said Holterman performed 24 experimental surgeries on a baby who was born in November 2009 with a leak in his esophagus. In the final surgery performed in 2011, Holterman used a suturing device that severed the boy's pulmonary artery, according to the suit, which was brought by the child's mother, Ethel Chavez. (Sachdev, 2/25)

The Baltimore Sun: State Provides $750,000 To Help MedStar Health Move To New Columbia HQ
The Maryland Department of Commerce will provide MedStar Health with $750,000 in state aid plus tax credits to support the relocation of its headquarters in Columbia. MedStar Health, the state's largest health care provider, plans to move later this year to a new and more spacious headquarters just over four miles from its current offices. The 97,000-square-foot building is under construction at Little Patuxent and Snowden River parkways. Known as the Crescent property, it's being developed by the Howard Hughes Corp. (Cohn, 2/25)

St. Louis Public Radio: Breast Cancer Screenings Are Up, But New Guidelines Could Hurt Outreach
In the past six years, staffers at Family Care Health Center in St. Louis have doubled the number of women coming in for regular mammograms. It’s part of a region-wide push for “breast health navigators”: women who reach out to other women who aren’t getting mammograms and frequently don’t have health insurance. Then, they figure out how to get them in the door. (Bouscaren, 2/25)

The Associated Press: Husband Of Brittany Maynard Lobbies For NY Right-To-Die Bill
Dan Diaz has lobbied lawmakers across the country and gone on Oprah, all to fulfill a promise to his late wife, Brittany Maynard, who put a face on the debate over allowing terminally ill patients to seek life-ending drugs. On Thursday, Diaz was in Albany to tell Maynard’s story again, this time to New York lawmakers considering a right-to-die bill. Maynard attracted national attention in 2014 when, at age 29, she moved to Oregon to legally end her life after she was diagnosed with a brain tumor and given six months to live. She died later that year. (Klepper, 2/25)

The Associated Press: Toxic Chemical In 5 Vermont Sites Near New York State
A toxic chemical found to have contaminated the water system of an upstate New York village has been found in five locations in the nearby Vermont community of North Bennington, Gov. Peter Shumlin and other top officials said Thursday. The contamination of the potentially cancer-causing chemical, known as PFOA, was found in water from private wells for three homes in North Bennington, a landscaping business and the non-potable water supply for a waste water treatment plant that were tested after Vermont officials heard news reports about the contamination found in nearby Hoosick Falls, New York. (Ring, 2/25)

The Associated Press: Sanford Health Pledges Up To $3M To Minnesota College
Dakotas-based Sanford Health is pledging up to $3 million to help a Minnesota college pay for a $45 million science complex. Sanford CEO Kelby Krabbenhoft is a 1980 graduate of Concordia College and also serves on the private liberal arts school's Board of Regents. Sanford Health will match 10 percent of donations to the school's capital campaign, up to $3 million. (2/25)

The Associated Press: Puerto Rico's Elite Linked To $10M Health Care Fraud Case
U.S. authorities say a group of people in Puerto Rico who made more than $100,000 a year received Medicaid coverage as part of a $10 million health care fraud scheme. U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodriguez says several artists, lawyers, government employees and a well-known model participated in the scheme. She says only those who make $24,000 or less qualify for Medicaid. (2/25)

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