KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

State Highlights: Fla. Lawmaker Says Clearing Backlog Of Rape Kits Is Top Priority; Advocates Heartened By Christie’s Drug Initiatives

News outlets report on health care developments in Florida, New Jersey, South Carolina, Connecticut, Michigan, North Carolina and Illinois.

The News Service Of Florida: Negron Questions FDLE On Backlog Of Rape Kits
The powerful chairman of a Senate committee that oversees the criminal-justice budget said Wednesday that Florida's backlog of thousands of untested rape kits is one of his top priorities. But Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, also made clear he isn't a fan of Florida Department of Law Enforcement proposals to outsource testing of the kits to clear the backlog. (Menzel, 1/14)

CQ Healthbeat: DOJ, FTC Support South Carolina Bill To Limit Certificate Of Need Law
The Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission are backing legislation in South Carolina that would limit the state’s certificate-of-need laws, a move that could ultimately lead to the state's repeal of a program started in 1971 to regulate health care providers on a state-by-state basis. Republican Governor Nikki R. Haley invited the two antitrust agencies to comment on a bill in the South Carolina House (H 3250) that would change existing laws that require new health care providers to be state-sanctioned before they can build new facilities. The agencies are concerned the laws not only force new entrants to await state sanctioning, but let existing companies try to solidify their market position by filing challenges to a potential rival's application. (Chamseddine, 1/14)

The Connecticut Mirror: Spending And Enrollment Up, But Medicaid Per-Person Cost Is Down
Connecticut’s Medicaid program is projected to cost the state and federal governments more than $6 billion this year, and it covers close to one in five state residents, a dramatic growth from a decade ago. But underneath the rising cost and enrollment trends, something else has been happening: The average per-person costs have been falling – particularly among those newly eligible for coverage under the federal health law. (Levin Becker, 1/15)

Mother Jones: Deadly Disease Strikes After Cost-Cutting Contaminated Flint's Water Supply
Residents in Flint, Michigan have been outraged since the discovery that their water is tainted with lead, a substance has irreversible neurological and developmental effects on children. The contamination came after the city of 100,000 changed water sources in April 2014, switching from Detroit's water system to the Flint River in an effort to cut costs. Yesterday brought even more bad news: Cases of Legionnaires' Disease have spiked in Genessee County since Flint, the largest city in the county, began using the river water. There have been 87 cases of the disease since June of 2014, ten of which have been fatal. According to the CDC, Legionnaires' disease is a pneumonia-like respiratory infection that can cause fevers, coughing, muscle aches, and, in severe cases, death. It grows in warm water, like that in hot tubs and fountains. (Lurie, 1/14)

Heartland Health Monitor: While Johnson County Has More Binge Drinking, Wyandotte County Has Bigger Challenge
When Kelli was growing up in Olathe in the 1970s, it was a quiet, clean community boasting single-family homes and good schools. And with state laws prohibiting alcohol sales on Sundays — in stores and by the glass — outsiders could have been forgiven if they found life there to be pretty straight-laced. “You just never know what goes on behind closed doors,” says Kelli, who asked that her last name not be used. Behind the bucolic suburban façade, the picture was different for Kelli. She describes her father as a highly successful CEO — and a high-functioning alcoholic. When she became an adult, Kelli tried to avoid falling into the same trap. (Smith, 1/14)

The Associated Press: NC Weighs Community Colleges Offering 4-Year Nursing Degree
North Carolina is confronting a chronic nursing shortage by considering whether its network of two-year community colleges should break with the past and offer four-year nursing degrees. The state's community college board could take the next step as early as Friday by launching a feasibility study into the pros and cons. Almost half the states in the country offer advanced nursing education at community colleges. (1/15)

The Chicago Tribune: CVS Clinics To Share Patient Records With University Of Chicago
CVS will share electronic patient data from its in-store health clinics with University of Chicago Medicine, under a deal announced Thursday. The deal is the latest attempt to ease concerns that patients will get lower-quality care when they substitute walk-in retail care like that practiced at CVS's 44 Chicago-area MinuteClinics for traditional primary medical care from a family doctor. (Janssen, 1/14)

The Detroit Free Press: Nurse Anesthetists Say Disrespect Led To Resistance
It has been nearly two weeks since Jessica Mast and 65 fellow nurse anesthetists were sedating patients and earning six-figure salaries in the St. John Providence Health System. Today, they remain out of their jobs since rejecting the nonprofit health system's plan to outsource them on Jan. 1 to PSJ Anesthesia, a new outside contractor run by a metro Detroit doctor. It was a rare act of defiance by a group of non-unionized employees against what has been a nationwide trend in the health care business. (Reindl, 1/14)

The Chicago Tribune: Caregiver Asks, 'What's Going To Happen To US?'
"What's going to happen to us?" the woman asked me with pleading eyes. She is one of 100 home health care assistants for Shay Health Care in Oak Forest [Ill.] who care for elderly people who live at home but need help with daily tasks such as getting dressed, bathing, even getting out of bed. It's likely that all 100 of them will lose their jobs at the end of the month because Shay has not been fully reimbursed by the state since July, and the agency's co-founder says she has taken out $800,000 in personal loans to keep that part of her business afloat. (Kadner, 1/14)

The Associated Press: Aids: OT Policy Will Hurt In-Home Care For Disabled
Disabled Illinois residents who depend on in-home help for daily needs will suffer once the state stops paying overtime for their caregivers beginning March 1, some home health care workers and their union say. Tens of thousands of employees who help people with disabilities live independently are eligible for time-and-a-half pay over 40 hours in a week, under a federal rule that took effect Jan. 1. But without a state budget in place to control spending, Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration says it can't afford the extra pay. (Lisenby, 1/14)

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