KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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State Highlights: Ky. Bill Would Require Ultrasound Before Abortion; Long ER Waits For Mental Illness Problem In Mass.

Outlets report on health news from Kentucky, Massachusetts, Iowa, Pennsylvania and Kansas.

Reuters: Kentucky Moves Toward Requiring Ultrasound Before Abortion
Kentucky's new Republican House majority took the first step on Thursday toward requiring women seeking an abortion to undergo an ultrasound, acting swiftly to capitalize on winning control of the chamber for the first time in almost a century. ... The bill requires a physician or qualified technician to perform the ultrasound and position the screen so the woman may view the images. The medical staff will be required to describe what the images show, including the size of the fetus and any organs or appendages visible. (Bittenbender, 1/5)

Des Moines Register: Iowa Agency To Pay $1 Million To Settle Medicaid Billing Allegations
An Iowa agency that cares for children with disabilities has agreed to pay $1 million to settle federal authorities’ allegation that it overcharged Medicaid. The agency, based in West Des Moines, was known as Ultimate Nursing Services when the disputed bills were filed from 2011 to 2013. It now uses the name of a related company, Universal Pediatrics. The company and its owner, Steven Tucker Anderson, were accused of improperly billing Medicaid, according to settlement documents released by federal prosecutors Thursday. (Leys, 1/5)

The Philadelphia Inquirer/ Pa. Makes New Picks For HealthChoices Medicaid Program
Two of the nation's largest health insurance companies, UnitedHealthcare and Aetna, have lost bids to manage Medicaid benefits in Pennsylvania under contracts worth a total of $12 billion over three years. The contracts, which cover physical health under Pennsylvania's HealthChoices program, were first awarded in April, but had to go through a second procurement process after Aetna, which last year won only one of the state's five zones, was granted a preliminary injunction blocking the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services from implementing its choices. (Brubaker, 1/5)

KCUR: Kansas Mental Health Advocates To Push For Psychiatric Advance Directives 
If someone you loved had a psychiatric emergency, would you know what to do?Because many people wouldn’t, Kansas mental health advocates are pushing for the state to recognize psychiatric advance directives to guide care for patients in crisis who are unable to communicate. Patients most often use advance directives to specify the treatments they want at the end of life, but people with mental illnesses could use a similar document to outline psychiatric crisis treatments, said Mike Burgess, a member of the Kansas Mental Health Coalition. The issue is new in Kansas, although some other states have laws on advance directives for mental health care. (Wingerter, 1/5)

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