KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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State Highlights: Tenn. Right-To-Die Battle Hits Courts; Audit Of Health Centers Raises Questions In N.J.

News outlets examine health care issues in Tennessee, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut, Louisiana, Vermont, Colorado, California and Texas.

The Tennessean: Battle Over Right To Die Headed To Nashville Courts
A civil rights activist who pledged to make right-to-die legislation his final fight filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging state law that prohibits assisted suicide. Attorney, businessman and political candidate John Jay Hooker, who is facing his own terminal diagnosis, is undeterred by the Tennessee General Assembly's choice to send the issue to summer study and is now asking a Davidson County Chancery Court judge to weigh the issue. He says the state law, which makes it a felony for a doctor or another person to assist in someone's death, violates the state constitution. (Barchenger, 5/19)

NJ Spotlight: State Auditor Raises Questions About Payments To Community Health Centers
Many millions of dollars in state payments for services provided by community health centers in New Jersey may not have been documented correctly, according to the state auditor. But a lawyer for the centers, which are known as federally qualified health centers (FQHCs), said the auditor was merely pointing out concerns that had been previously raised and were later rejected by federal judges.The Office of the State Auditor, which is part of the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services, issued a report last week finding that the FQHCs had billed for services under the Medicaid program using other healthcare providers’ information, and that they had received $9 million in payments that weren’t approved by the insurers who are paid by the state to manage healthcare for Medicaid recipients. (Kitchenman, 5/19)

Connecticut Mirror: The Doctor Is Online, And Lawmakers Are Prescribing Some Rules
Telemedicine — also referred to as telehealth — is expected to become a larger part of medical care as technology evolves, the emphasis on reducing health care costs grows and the demand for care outstrips the supply of medical providers, particularly in primary care. But regulation of the practice has lagged. (Levin Becker, 5/20)

St. Louis Public Radio: Seven Years In The Making, Missouri Bill To Cover Eating Disorders Await Signature
A bill awaiting the Missouri governor’s signature would add an extra layer of protection for people battling eating disorders: SB 145. The Affordable Care Act already requires insurance companies to cover treatment for eating disorders under a mental health parity law, but some patients reported they are still denied coverage because their Body Mass Index measurements were above a predetermined level. (Bouscaren, 5/19)

California Healthline: Scope Of Practice Bill Sent To Senate Floor
Optometrists could perform more medical duties than currently allowed in California under legislation passed on Monday by the Senate Appropriations Committee. ... The bill is designed to help address the dearth of primary care providers in California by allowing some of their duties to be taken up by optometrists who undergo special training for the tasks. (Gorn, 5/19)

The Texas Tribune: Texas House Backs Senate Bill Making Execution Drug Providers Secret
Legislation that would keep the names of execution drug providers secret is headed to the governor’s office after the Texas House gave final approval on Tuesday to a Senate measure. Senate Bill 1697, authored by state Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, and sponsored in the House by state Rep. John Smithee, R-Amarillo, would make information about anyone who participates in the execution procedure – including those who manufacture, supply, transport and administer execution drugs – confidential and unavailable through public records requests. (Hershaw, 5/19)

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