KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

State Highlights: Feds Examine Calif. Health Plan Tax; New York’s Paperless Prescribing Requirement Takes Effect This Month

News outlets report on health issues in California, New York, Ohio, Illinois, Florida, Connecticut, Iowa and Massachusetts.

The Associated Press: As NY Demands Paperless Prescribing, Doctors Are Mixed
The scribbled, cryptic doctor's prescription is headed toward eradication in New York, where the nation's toughest paperless-prescribing requirement takes effect this month. Instead of handing patients slips of paper, physicians soon must electronically send orders directly to pharmacies for everything from antibiotics to cholesterol pills to painkillers, with some exceptions. Otherwise, prescribers face the possibility of fines, license loss or even jail. The requirement is meant to fight painkiller abuse, reduce errors and expand a practice that doctors and patients often find convenient. But physicians say digital scripts can present roadblocks for some patients and doctors shouldn't have to fear punishment over a prescription format. (3/19)

Kaiser Health News: California Insurance Marketplace Wants To Kick Out Poor-Performing Hospitals
California’s insurance exchange is threatening to cut hospitals from its networks for poor performance or high costs, a novel proposal that is drawing heavy fire from medical providers and insurers. The goal is to boost the overall quality of patient care and make coverage more affordable, said Peter Lee, executive director of the Covered California exchange. “The first few years were about getting people in the door for coverage,” said Lee, a key figure in the rollout of the federal health law. “We are now shifting our attention to changing the underlying delivery system to make it more cost effective and higher quality. We don’t want to throw anyone out, but we don’t want to pay for bad quality care either.” (Chad Terhune, 3/21)

Cleveland Plain Dealer: HealthSpan Strikes Deal With Lake Health To Preserve Access For Members East Of Cleveland
HealthSpan has struck an agreement with Lake Health Inc. to provide medical services to communities east of Cleveland where many of the insurer's medical offices are due to close at the end of the month. The agreement allows HealthSpan members to immediately make appointments at all Lake Health facilities and with more than 250 physicians who work for the health system in Northeast Ohio. (Ross, 3/18)

The Associated Press: Illinois Lawmaker Wants To Legalize Midwives Statewide
Mishra Keller skirted a state law when she chose to deliver her second child at home with the help of a midwife, given that the trained birthing professionals have been barred from practicing since 1987 in Illinois. Keller, a holistic health coach in Evanston, disagrees with the state's stance, saying that midwives are a "good resource." ''With the right training, they can help people have positive outcomes," Keller said. (Lisenby, 3/20)

The Washington Post's Wonkblog: In A Fight Between Nurses And Doctors, The Nurses Are Slowly Winning
Amid a flurry of legislation to pass in the final days of spring state legislative sessions last week, nurses won two more victories in a long war for independence. For decades, most of the country has required physician oversight for nurses to conduct certain procedures, and especially to prescribe drugs. But that’s slowly changing, as the nation’s health-care needs rise, and nurses fight for the right to practice everything they learned in school. (DePillis, 3/18)

The Associated Press: CSEA Challenge Increase In Thruway Retiree Health Payments
A union has sued [New York's] Thruway Authority challenging increased health care costs for about 1,500 retirees. CSEA says the authority told retirees in December that effective April 1 they would have to pay 6 percent more in personal contributions to their health care premiums. The union says that fails to honor the obligations to retirees covered by contracts between CSEA and the Thruway. (3/19)

The Orlando Sentinel: Scripps Receives $1.4M Grant To Study Breast Cancer
Scripps Florida scientists in Jupiter have received a $1.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense to study new ways to block breast cancer. Donald G. Phinney, Scripps scientist and acting chairman of the Department of Molecular Therapeutics, is the principal investigator on the new three-year grant. He said Scripps will be targeting a class of molecules known as microRNA that play a pivotal role in breast cancer. (Pounds, 3/18)

The Wall Street Journal: Connecticut Studies ‘Yes Means Yes’ Sexual Consent Policy
Connecticut is weighing whether to join a growing number of states that have required universities to adopt policies for sexual interactions known as affirmative-consent. A proposal before state legislators would create a so-called “yes-means-yes” standard that would be used when investigating sexual-assault complaints. The push comes as an alleged sexual-misconduct case has shaken up Yale University, in New Haven, with the captain of the men’s basketball team expelled after a campus committee ruled he had violated the school’s policies on sexual conduct. (De Avila, 3/18)

The Associated Press: Study Finds High Drug Abuse Rates For Kids Who Were Jailed
A study has found high rates of drug and alcohol abuse and dependency among some who went through Cook County's juvenile detention center. The Northwestern Medicine study found more than 90 percent of males and nearly 80 percent of females in the study were diagnosed with a "substance abuse disorder" at some point in their lives. The study was published Thursday in the American Journal of Public Health. (3/20)

The California Health Report: Crowding On Skid Row Creates A Breeding Ground For Illnesses
A downtown development boom has brought pricey lofts, condos, nightspots and galleries to the center of the city and pushed homeless people into skid row, an area of some 40 city blocks where tents, cardboard boxes and people sleeping in the open air still line the sidewalks. Even though shelters, soup kitchens and social service agencies dominate the neighborhood, there are more people than shelter beds, and many people who simply refuse to go inside. People live their lives on the street in close quarters where sanitation is spotty. (Urevich, 3/21)

The Sioux City Journal: Nun Returns To Sioux City To Carry Out Medical Mission
Sister Theresa Keller clicks the heels of her gray suede shoes together. "There's no place like home. There's no place like home," she says chuckling as she sits in her office tucked away at Siouxland Community Health Center. Plastered above a diploma on a wall are two posters featuring Glinda the Good Witch and Dorothy from the American film classic "The Wizard of Oz." After nearly 40 years away from home, Keller, an advanced registered nurse practitioner, returned last fall to Sioux City to live and work. (Butz, 3/20)

The Boston Globe: Marijuana Study Leader Is Against Legalization Push
For a year, state Senator Jason M. Lewis maintained strict neutrality as he studied marijuana legalization — interviewing 50-plus experts, scouring the research, and observing firsthand a state where it is legal. But now he is speaking out against the expected November referendum in Massachusetts. (Miller, 3/20)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.