State Highlights: Questions Emerge Over Loan Funds To Aid Care For Disabled In Colo.; Talks Between Allina Health, Nurses Move On Key Issue In Minn.
Outlets report on health news from Colorado, Minnesota, Georgia, Kansas, California, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
The Denver Post:
State Has No Idea If Loan Funds Are Spent Properly
Receipts for 98 loans totaling more than $660,000 from the Family Support Loan Fund — half of which are in default — are virtually nonexistent. As a result, officials with the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, which administers the loan program, do not know whether borrowers used the money properly or as promised. The department was able to produce receipts for only 10 loans when The Denver Post asked to review paperwork for all 98 active loans. And four of the project receipts the state provided appear to be for loans paid off years ago and not part of the 98. (Migoya, 7/25)
Minnesota Public Radio:
Allina Nurses Offer Deal On Health Insurance
There's been some movement on a key issue in contract talks between Allina Health and some 4,800 unionized nurses. In their last day of scheduled contract talks on Friday, nurses offered to eliminate two of their health insurance plans and increase out-of-pocket costs for remaining plans. In exchange, nurses want wages hikes of 4, 3 and 3 percent over three years, along with improved staffing and workplace safety. (Moylan, 7/22)
Grants Help Augusta University Train Advanced Nurses
Registered nurses who want to provide advanced care can get help with going back to school full time through two federal grants to the College of Nursing at Augusta University (in Georgia). The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced this week that its Health Resources and Services Administration was sending grants of $350,000 and $39,567 to the college to help train advanced practice nurses and nurse anesthetists, part of $4.6 million the agency was sending to agencies in the state. The programs are for training people who are already nurses to go back and get the advanced degrees. (Corwin, 7/21)
The Kansas City Star:
Lead Problem (If There Is One) Remains A Frustrating Mystery In Salina, Kan.
In the coming weeks, the [Kansas Department of Health and Environment] will send teams to the homes of the 32 children, ages 6 months to 15 years, whose blood tests showed levels of at least 5 micrograms per deciliter. Health officials consider that reading too high. Until the investigations are completed, the Saline County seat of Salina, population 48,000, will fret over the possibilities: Could the drinking water be poisonous, as residents of Flint, Mich., discovered? (Montgomery, 7/24)
The Denver Post:
Judge Temporarily Blocks Colorado Medical Marijuana Doctors’ Suspensions
A Denver judge on Friday temporarily blocked the suspensions of four doctors who were the first in the state to be punished for allegedly over-recommending high plant counts to medical marijuana patients. The doctors, though, won’t be allowed to make official medical marijuana recommendations until their disciplinary cases are resolved. (Ingold, 7/22)
The Mercury News:
Long-Delayed New Building At Valley Medical Center Set To Open In 2017
Santa Clara Valley Medical Center's new bed building is on track to be completed next June after years of delays and rising costs for which the recently reconciled county and Turner Construction Company both blamed each other. The building will open its doors to patients near the end of 2017, and officials from both sides were eager to put the difficulties behind them during a Friday media tour of the ongoing construction. (Knowles, 7/23)
Engaged Disabled Couple Would Lose Benefits If They Wed
The Scioto County couple is fighting for the right to marry without becoming impoverished or losing important Medicaid-funded services — trade-offs that many Americans with disabilities have long decried as unfair. Marriage affects various government-benefit policies and programs, including the $700-a-month Supplemental Security Income payment that Daniel, 53, relies on to round out her very modest earnings as a Project STIR (Steps Toward Independence and Responsibility) coordinator through the Scioto County Board of Developmental Disabilities. Adams, 43, a self-advocacy specialist through the board, said he receives about $1,100 a month in Social Security Disability Insurance. (Price, 7/24)
The Philadelphia Inquirer:
Health Centers Quickly Filling Up Space In Philly Area Malls
Retail and real estate experts say the trend is on the rise, especially among malls looking to fill space vacated by traditional retailers with new tenants to generate rental income and increase traffic....At ailing Class B and C malls, the conversion of vacated retail space to medical offices has already started. (Parmley, 7/24)