KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

State Highlights: Judge Delays N.H. Malpractice Insurance Payouts; Ga. Fails To Offer Protections To Personal Care Home Residents

Outlets report on news from New Hampshire, Georgia, Kansas, Texas, Florida, Missouri, Minnesota, Virginia, California, Illinois and Oregon.

NH Times Union: This Time, Insurance Payout Is $50 Million
Merrimack County Superior Court Judge Richard McNamara recently put the brakes on releasing $50 million in surpluses from the New Hampshire Medical Malpractice Joint Underwriting Association to 6,200 policyholders — even though all parties to this case were on board. That’s because nothing about this state-run group supplying malpractice insurance to doctors, hospitals and other health care providers for the past 40 years has been done quickly or without debate. In 2009, at the height of peak earnings and its position in the marketplace, the JUA’s surplus attracted the attention of former Gov. John Lynch. (Landrigan, 4/16)

The Augusta Chronicle: Personal Care Home Owners Or Employees Rarely Face Criminal Charges 
An investigation by The Augusta Chronicle found many examples just in Augusta where personal care home residents were left alone, went without food and medicine, and at least in one case was left in his own waste, locked inside a dark room. Georgia has criminal laws designed to protect at risk-adults – such as exploitation of an elderly or disabled adult, aggravated cruelty to an elderly adult, and abuse and neglect of an elderly or disabled person. Approximately 82 people are in prison serving time for these crimes. (Hodson, 4/15)

KCUR: Law Allowing States To Deny Planned Parenthood Funding Won’t Have Immediate Effect Locally 
The law signed on Thursday by President Trump allowing states to cut off family-planning funding to Planned Parenthood won’t have an immediate effect on the organization’s affiliates in Missouri and Kansas. That’s because Kansas barred Planned Parenthood from receiving Title X family planning funds several years ago – a move later upheld by a federal appeals court. And Title X funds continue to flow to Planned Parenthood’s affiliates in Missouri because the Missouri Family Health Council, not the state, is the recipient of the funds. The council in turn makes the funds available to Planned Parenthood. (Margolies, 4/14)

Politico Pro: Court Victories Don’t Restore Abortion Access In Texas 
The Supreme Court last June threw out restrictive Texas laws that had forced many clinics to close, leaving large regions of a vast state with no abortion providers at all. By and large, the clinics have not mustered the resources to reopen in a politically hostile, regulation-heavy environment. (Rayasam, 4/17)

Pioneer Press: Hennepin County Measles Outbreak Now Includes 8 Children 
A Hennepin County outbreak of childhood measles now includes eight cases, after five more cases were confirmed by the Minnesota Department of Health. The department said Friday that all eight cases are unvaccinated children between the ages of 1 and 4. Investigators are trying to trace the infections and protect others who may have been exposed. Seven of the confirmed cases are Somali-American children, and all but one have common contact. Six of the children were hospitalized. (4/14)

The Star Tribune: Five New Cases Of Measles Confirmed In Hennepin County 
Minnesota health officials have confirmed five new cases of measles in young children in Hennepin County, bringing the total number of cases in the outbreak to eight. All eight are unvaccinated children ranging in age from 1 to 4, the Minnesota Department of Health said in a Friday night news release. (Zamora, 4/15)

Richmond Times-Dispatch: Mental Health System Has Improved Since Tech, But Has A Long Way To Go, Experts Say 
Snook and several others agree that Virginia has been fairly adept at responding to crises — but they say lawmakers haven’t been as successful at addressing the mental health system’s underlying problems. Decades ago, Virginia shut down many of its state-run mental hospitals in response to a growing national trend but didn’t lay the groundwork for community-based care that would keep residents with mental illness from spiraling out of control. (Kleiner, 4/14)

Health News Florida: An Unknown Future For Military Caregivers Of Post-9/11 Veterans 
For the last decade, Patti Katter has managed her husband’s medical appointments, medications and rehabilitation. ... She learned to care for herself and found a job with a non-profit, Hope for the Warriors. She now works from home helping other military caregivers navigate the system. And she is a fellow with the Elizabeth Dole Foundation that advocates for military and veteran caregivers. (O'Brien, 4/14)

California Healthline: California Lawmakers Mull Improvements To Troubled Dental Program
California lawmakers are considering several bills to improve and expand access to Denti-Cal, the state’s troubled dental program for low-income people — including ones that would draw from the state’s new tobacco tax to boost dentists’ pay. Assembly Bill 753, introduced by Assemblywoman Anna Caballero (D-Salinas), would direct money from the state’s new tobacco tax to broaden access to Denti-Cal, which for years has been faulted in state and federal reports. The bill will be heard in the Assembly Committee on Health on Tuesday. (Ibarra, 4/17)

WBUR: California Tries Again To Move On Universal Health Care 
Many Californians are rallying around the idea of a single-payer health system, similar to those in Canada and parts of Europe. Efforts to establish universal health care in California have failed in the past. But with Republican leaders in Washington planning to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, voters are eager to try again. (Feibel, 4/14)

Chicago Tribune: Feds Subpoena Baxter Employee Over National Shortage Of IV Solutions 
The federal government has subpoenaed a Baxter International employee as part of a criminal investigation related to a nationwide shortage of intravenous saline solution, the Deerfield-based company revealed Friday. The subpoena asks for documents about the pricing, sale, manufacture and shortage of intravenous solutions, including saline solution, which is used in IVs to hydrate patients, and other injectable medications. It also seeks Baxter's communications with competitors over the issue, according to a regulatory filing. (Schencker, 4/14)

San Francisco Chronicle: Hawaii Accused Of Downplaying Parasite That Struck SF Couple 
Health officials in tourist-friendly Hawaii are defending themselves from criticism that they have for years downplayed the severity of a rare, brain-invading parasite that has infected dozens on the islands, including a San Francisco couple stricken by the disease on a recent honeymoon. A cluster of rat lungworm cases in Maui caught widespread attention last week when Eliza Lape of San Francisco and her husband, UC Berkeley journalism professor Ben Manilla, revealed they had become severely ill in January after they eloped on the island. (Lyons, 4/14)

Georgia Health News: Georgia Aims To Avoid Snags As It Launches Program For Public Benefits 
Georgia is rolling out an expensive eligibility determination system for Medicaid, food stamps and other public benefits, with officials hoping to avoid the massive problems with a similar set-up in Rhode Island, operated by the same vendor. The new computer system, delivered by Deloitte Consulting, has a price tag of $380 million, with all but $33 million paid for by the federal government under the Affordable Care Act. The rest comes from state money. (Miller, 4/14)

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