KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

State Highlights: Tenn. Bill To Allow Insurance Brokers To Charge Fee Moves Forward; Ga. Senate Approves Lead Testing Measure

Outlets report on news from Tennessee, Georgia, Michigan, Florida, Texas, Ohio and Arizona.

Nashville Tennessean: Health Insurance Brokers Get Closer To Being Able To Charge Fees
Legislation to allow insurance brokers to charge customers a fee in absence of a commission passed a vote on the House floor. The legislation creates a path for compensation for brokers who help customers find a health insurance plan. Until the fall, brokers received a commission from insurers selling individual plans but drastic changes to the health insurance market eliminated the payments. The legislation, HB0428 and SB0561, is a welcome move for Nashville broker Joe Graves, and his peers, who saw a source of income vanish. (Fletcher, 3/3)

Georgia Health News: State Senate Approves Bill To Test Schools’ Water For Lead Contamination 
The state Senate on Friday overwhelmingly approved a bill to require Georgia schools and child care centers to test for lead contamination in their water. The proposal, sponsored by Sen. Vincent Fort, an Atlanta Democrat, was passed by a 50-1 vote on Crossover Day. That’s the last day for a bill to move from one chamber of the Legislature to the other and thereby retain a path to becoming law this year. (Miller, 3/3)

Detroit Free Press: Mental Health Cuts Stir Fears In Macomb County
[Ron] Plewa's family is worried about what will happen to him as Macomb County undergoes what authorities say will be ultimately total nearly $30 million in Medicaid funding cuts from the state, which is in the process of redistributing the money. Wayne County is among the areas that will benefit from the redistribution, while Oakland County is expected to lose money as well, although Macomb is getting hit the hardest. If the state goes through with a projected $12.5-million cut in funding to Macomb County on April 1, that could mean less money for those who provide services to help Plewa with his daily tasks and allow him to continue his independence. It could force him to move to a more restrictive environment with his older parents or in a group home. (Hall, 3/5)

Gwinnett Daily Post: Senate Passes Unterman Bill To Address Nursing Licensure 
A bill sponsored by state Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford, to address a shortage of nurses in Georgia made its way across the Capitol to the House of Representatives this past week. Senate Bill 166, which was passed by the Senate on Tuesday, would allow registered nurses and licensed practical nurses use an enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact to hold one multistate license. Senate officials said this would make it possible for nurses to move across state lines quickly so they can help out in times of an emergency or disaster. (Yeomans, 3/4)

Orlando Sentinel: Nursing Home Inspection Reports Leave Gaps 
The leader of a national watchdog group, Brian Lee of Families For Better Care, calls the heavily censored reports — which cover inspections of nursing homes and assisted living facilities — “shocking.” He first noticed a difference in the amount of information withheld late last year... The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, which is responsible for the reports, denied that allegation, saying state officials are merely trying to “provide additional protection of personal health information” as required by federal privacy laws, which were bolstered in 2009. (Santich, 3/3)

Texas Tribune: Texas House Proposes Using $1.4 Billion From State Savings Account 
The chief budget writer in the Texas House on Friday proposed using $1.4 billion from the state’s savings account to pay bills coming due for a wide array of the state’s health and human services programs. The proposal from state Rep. John Zerwas, R-Richmond, would continue pay raises for Child Protective Services workers that state leaders ordered last year. It would also pay for renovations at the state’s aging mental health hospitals and state-supported living centers for people with disabilities. (Walters, 3/3)

Cleveland Plain Dealer: No Epidemic Of Cleveland Teen Suicides, Despite Study Saying Many Contemplate Ending Their Lives
About 20 percent of Cleveland school district high school students say they have attempted suicide, a rate that's among the highest in the nation and which offers an alarming look at how teens in the high-poverty city view their lives. It's also an incomplete and fuzzy look that doesn't include hard data that can paint a different picture. There's no epidemic of suicides among Cleveland teens, with the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner handling a total of five suicides by Cleveland teens from 2012 through 2016. (O'Donnell, 3/3)

Arizona Republic: 4 Arizona Kids Sickened After Multi-State Outbreak Of E. Coli In Soynut Butter
Arizona health officials are investigating four cases of E. coli infections in children under 5 years old that likely came from eating soynut butter-containing products from The SoyNut Butter Co. The cases reported in Maricopa and Coconino counties have been linked to day-care facilities, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services. All four children in Arizona that were sickened had to be hospitalized but have since recovered (Restrepo, 3/3)

The Associated Press: Medicare Fraud Trial Set For Doctor Tied To Menendez Probe
Many of the Medicare fraud charges against prominent Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen are complicated, but one is simple — federal prosecutors say he claimed reimbursement for treating both eyes of patients who have one prosthetic. Melgen is scheduled to go on trial Monday in West Palm Beach, facing 76 counts charging him with stealing up to $190 million from Medicare between 2004 and 2013. (Spencer, 3/5)

Columbus Dispatch: Mental-Health Advocates Enlist Local Clergy To Dispel Misconceptions
The National Alliance on Mental Illness - Franklin County and the Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Board of Franklin County are teaming up with faith leaders and clergy members to educate them so they can, in turn, educate church, synagogue, temple and mosque members... The board has been working with the faith community for more than 10 years, Dixon said, and it wants to support faith-based organizations and the work they do every day with the mental-health resources it can offer. ADAMH, for example, recently hosted a symposium on mental health, with a demonstration of acupuncture and other techniques for stress management given by health professionals. (King, 3/3)

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