KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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State Highlights: Ariz. Tops Federal Tally For Complaints Against Medical-Debt Collectors; Fla. Republicans Push To Undo Hospital Certificate-Of-Need Rule

Outlets report on news from Arizona, Florida, Michigan, New Hampshire, Louisiana, California, Georgia and Tennessee.

Arizona Republic: Complaints Mount Against Medical-Debt Collectors
The complaints offer a narrow glimpse into what can happen long after a patient leaves a doctor’s office or hospital and disputes or refuses payment of a bill. Hospitals and doctors often deal with unpaid bills. Some turn to debt collectors to get what the insurance company, the consumer or both refused to pay. (Alltucker, 4/18)

Miami Herald: House Republicans Push To Give Hospitals Greater Say In Expansion 
For four decades, hospitals wanting to expand or open new facilities have had to get the state to agree there’s a need for more healthcare in their community. It’s a rule that Republicans in the Florida House say creates unnecessary burdens on the free market. This week, they’ll be passing a bill to repeal it. (Auslen, 4/18)

Arizona Republic: CVS MinuteClinics To Relieve Stress On Phoenix VA, Open Doors To Many Veterans In Arizona
Veterans in the Phoenix VA Health Care System can now get immediate medical treatment for minor illnesses and injuries from CVS MinuteClinics under a pilot project announced Tuesday. The program will be open to about 120,000 veterans, enabling them to call VA triage nurses and, if their symptoms qualify, receive an appointment within two hours at one of the drugstore chain's 24 clinic outlets in central Arizona. (Wagner, 4/18)

New Hampshire Union Leader: Business Is Booming For Long Term Care Partners 
A Portsmouth company that fills a unique niche in the insurance market is confident its services will be in demand for years to come. Long Term Care Partners on Arboretum Drive is a third-party administrator of insurance services for federal employees. Under a seven-year contract regulated by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, LTC is responsible for the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program, which has about 275,000 enrollees and an eligible population of 4.4 million-plus federal employees, annuitants and qualified family members. LTC is also contracted to administer BENEFEDS, an exchange and service platform through which more than 2.5 million federal employees can manage their dental and vision coverage, with the choice of coverage from more than a dozen major national carriers. (Haas, 4/18)

New Orleans Times-Picayune: Registry Tracks New Orleans Elderly, Disabled For Evacuations 
New Orleans has a plan in place to help evacuate around 40,000 people who might not be able to get out on their own ahead of a hurricane. But during an evacuation, how does the city know where to find of the most vulnerable people, the elderly and disabled? Enter the Special Needs Registry, created to provide transportation and shelter for New Orleanians with special medical needs during emergencies such as a power outage, evacuation or hurricane. The registry keeps a database of information on around 4,400 people who will need extra help during an evacuation, and comes equipped with a small outreach team to update the records and annually. (Evans, 4/18)

California Healthline: As California Weighs Soda Warning Labels, Tax In Berkeley Shown To Dilute Sales
A new study of the soda tax in Berkeley, Calif., shows that residents are doing what public health experts had hoped — they’re ditching sugary drinks and opting for healthier beverages. The study, the largest to date of Berkeley’s soda tax, comes as California lawmakers this week again consider legislation to put a warning label on sweetened beverages — a bill that died in committee three times in three years. (Ibarra, 4/18)

Sacramento Bee: Disabled Placards For Thousands Of Dead Californians Part Of Program Abuse 
California’s Department of Motor Vehicles needs to significantly beef up efforts to prevent fraud and abuse in the state’s disabled person placard program, a new state audit recommends, noting that officials accept applications lacking required medical documentation, issue too many duplicates, and fail to cancel the placards of people who have died. Almost 3 million people had disabled placards or special license plates as of June 2016, according to Tuesday’s Bureau of State Audits report. (Miller, 4/18)

Georgia Health News: Fraudsters, Beware! Health IT Firm Launched In Georgia Is After You 
Companies in the industry provide a range of products and services, from electronic health records, medical billing and revenue management to diagnostics, preserving the security of information exchanges, and consumer health information... The revolution in patients’ medical records has accelerated the IT spurt, with physicians’ offices across the U.S. giving up folders full of written notes and turning to digital data. (Miller, 4/18)

Nashville Tennessean: For Stealing $1.5M From Children's Food Program, Tennessee Woman Gets 3 Months Prison
A La Vergne woman who stole $1.5 million from state programs that feed children in need was sentenced last week to three months in prison, records show. Federal sentencing guidelines recommended more than five years prison time, according to court records. The reason U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger handed LaShane Hayes the shorter term is unclear because several court documents are sealed, however other filings indicate Hayes wanted a probation sentence because of a medical condition. (Barchenger, 4/18)

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