KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

State Highlights: Fla. House Panel Approves Optometry Bill; In Minn., Lawmakers Continue Work, Debate On Measures To Stabilize Insurance Market

Outlets report on news from Florida, Minnesota, California, Texas and Virginia.

Orlando Sentinel: Florida Optometry Bill Clears House Subcommittee
It’s been dubbed the Eyeball Wars: Optometrists want to prescribe more medications and perform surgeries and ophthalmologists are standing firm against them. Optometrists gained some ground Wednesday when a House bill cleared the Health Quality Subcommittee with an 8-7 vote and headed to the House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee. (Miller, 3/15)

Pioneer Press: Lawmaker’s Absence Foils Chance For Upset DFL Victory In Health Coverage Debate 
Minnesota Democrats came agonizingly close to scoring an upset victory Wednesday night. During debate over a measure to try to stabilize the individual health insurance market, Democrats in the state Senate offered an amendment to add their preferred program: letting Minnesotans buy in to the state-run MinnesotaCare program. Senate Democrats have one fewer seat than do the majority Republicans, so they were expecting to lose. But then came a shock: Republican Sen. Scott Jensen of Chaska, a medical doctor, spoke out in favor of the DFL plan. It wasn’t perfect, Jensen said, but it might help bring care to residents of greater Minnesota who face dwindling insurance options. (Montgomery, 3/15)

Pioneer Press: Health Insurers: Reinsurance Money Would Lower Rates, Not Be A ‘Bail-Out’ 
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton says he’s interested in passing a “reinsurance” proposal to stabilize the state’s individual health insurance market — if he’s convinced it will actually work. “The insurance industry needs to come forward and tell us, if they get $300 million a year through reinsurance, what effect is that going to have? Are they doing to stay in the market, then? Are they going to lower their rates?” Dayton said last week. “We need to know what we’re getting for this very significant commitment of public funds.” (Montgomery, 3/15)

Sacramento Bee: Gavin Newsom Wants San Francisco Health Care Model For California 
Through focusing on regular checkups and preventative care, [Alice] Chen says overall health care costs have ticked down over the past decade, due in large part to the system’s ability to divert patients away from costly emergency room visits and catch health complications before they escalate to severe illness and disease. That concept is fundamental to Healthy San Francisco, the city’s universal health care program adopted a decade ago that covers everyone regardless of immigration status or ability to pay. (Hart, 3/16)

Texas Tribune: Child Welfare Workers Fear Legislative Push To Outsource Their Jobs
Under House Bill 6 — part of a sweeping plan to revamp Texas' child welfare system — the state would slowly create a "community-based care" model, which would allow contracted organizations to monitor children in foster care and adoptive homes and those who have been placed by the state into a relative's home. That would include making sure children are settling into their new homes and their health needs are being met. (Evans, 3/16)

Richmond Times Dispatch: Bostwick Laboratories Files For Bankruptcy Protection; Plans To Sell Business For $5.4 Million
Bostwick Laboratories filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization on Wednesday, two days after telling employees of its intentions to sell its business and assets through a court-supervised auction. Once one of the Richmond region’s fastest-growing companies, Bostwick Laboratories has estimated assets of between $1 million and $10 million and liabilities between $50 million and $100 million, according to the filing. (Demeria, 3/15)

Tampa Bay Times: Program Prompts Hernando Preschoolers To Eat Healthy 
The 94 preschoolers, ages 3 to 5, at Brooksville Head Start, another 146 at Spring Hill Head Start, plus a dozen at Butterfly Wings, a home-based day care in Spring Hill, have put into practice over the past year a quartet of lifestyle suggestions to earn 5210 Healthy Hernando Certification for their schools. The numerals refer to the four daily goals: eat five fruits and vegetables, spend no more than two hours on recreational screen time, engage in one hour of physical activity and consume zero sugary drinks. Based on a nationally recognized child obesity prevention program, 5210 Healthy Hernando was developed as a partnership of the Hernando County Health Department and Mid-Florida Community Services, which sponsors Head Start. (Gray, 3/15)

Texas Tribune: Texas Sues Feds — Including Rick Perry — Over Nuclear Waste Disposal
Texas is trying to take the federal government to task for failing to find a permanent disposal site for thousands of metric tons of radioactive waste piling up at nuclear reactor sites across the country. In a lawsuit filed Tuesday night, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton accuses U.S. agencies of violating federal law by failing to license a nuclear waste repository in Nevada — a plan delayed for decades amid a highly politicized fight. (Malewitz, 3/15)

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