KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

State Highlights: Texas Takes Steps To Partially Restore Funds For Disabled Children; University Of Vermont Med School Adopts ‘Active Learning’

Outlets report on news from Texas, Vermont, Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, California, Illinois, Florida, Kansas, Ohio and Louisiana.

Texas Tribune: House Gives Early OK To Reversing Cuts To Disabled Children's Therapy Services
The Texas House gave tentative approval Thursday to a measure that would partially reverse a controversial cut to disabled children’s therapy services that was ordered by the 2015 Legislature. ... The $350 million funding cut outraged therapy providers and the families of children who receive their services, and a group of concerned Texans quickly filed a lawsuit seeking to block the cuts. (Wilson and Najmabadi, 8/3)

NPR: University Of Vermont To Phase Out Lectures In Med School
For students starting medical school, the first year can involve a lot of time in a lecture hall. There are hundreds of terms to master and pages upon pages of notes to take. But when the new class of medical students begins at the University of Vermont's Larner College of Medicine next week, a lot of that learning won't take place with a professor at a lectern. (Cornish and Gringlas, 8/3)

Texas Tribune: Texas House Approves More Abortion Reporting Requirements
Doctors performing abortions on minors would be required to report additional information to the state under a new measure given early approval by the Texas House Thursday. ... Under Murphy's House Bill 215, doctors would have to document how the minor obtained authorization to get an abortion. (Smith, 8/3)

Minnesota Public Radio: Minnesota Struggles To Catch Up As Minority Mental Health Needs Grow
Despite the state's growing racial and ethnic diversity and a yawning need for mental health services among people of color, Minnesota's health professions remain overwhelmingly white and seemingly walled off to diverse clients hoping to talk to providers who look like them. ... Minnesota and mental health officials don't deny there's a problem and say they're working on efforts to increase diversity, from exposing students of color to mental health careers to expanding college loan forgiveness program for providers who open practices in urban areas. (Sapong, 8/3)

Los Angeles Times: After A Rocky Start, USC Verdugo Hills Hospital Reports Better Health Under New Chief Executive
By the time Keith Hobbs, a 23-year employee at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, joined USC Verdugo Hills Hospital in Glendale as its chief executive, the once independent hospital had already spent more than two years under the Keck Medicine of USC banner. Along with the usual growing pains associated with an acquisition, Verdugo Hills Hospital had spent 2014-15 negotiating a new contract with unionized nurses who complained about staffing shortages as well as unsafe conditions and patient care. (Landa, 8/3)

Chicago Tribune: University Of Chicago Medicine Severs Ties With Medicaid Insurer IlliniCare
Thousands of low-income patients may have to scramble to find new doctors this month after University of Chicago Medicine became the latest major health system to break up with IlliniCare Health, an insurer that administers benefits for the state's Medicaid program. U. of C. Medicine follows Northwestern Medicine and Advocate Health Care in walking away from IlliniCare Health, one of 12 Medicaid managed care organizations in the state. Medicaid managed care organizations are insurers that handle benefits for Medicaid, a state- and federally funded health insurance program for the poor. (Schencker, 8/3)

Kaiser Health News: Florida Law Will Let Patients Get All Their Drug Renewals At The Same Time
For people who take multiple medications to manage chronic conditions, traipsing back and forth from the pharmacy to pick up pills can make it harder to stick to their doctors’ orders. But because insurers often don’t allow consumers to fill partial prescriptions to make  medication renewal dates align, patients sometimes have no choice but to frequently shuttle to the drug store for refills. (Andrews, 8/4)

KCUR: KU Cancer Center Fails In Quest For ‘Comprehensive” Status But Certification Renewed
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has denied the University of Kansas Cancer Center’s campaign for a much coveted “comprehensive” designation. But the center's certification as a nationally recognized center has been renewed for five years. "We were disappointed but not surprised to learn that we did not receive comprehensive status,” Dr. Roy Jensen, director of the KU Cancer Center, said in a statement. “On average, it takes an NCI-designated cancer center 15 years to achieve comprehensive status, and we received our NCI designation just five years ago.” (Margolies, 8/3)

Kansas City Star: KU Cancer Center Partnership With Children's Mercy Hospital Approved
The National Cancer Institute has denied the University of Kansas Cancer Center’s application to upgrade its NCI designation but approved the addition of Children’s Mercy Hospital to KU’s research consortium. Michael Artman, the chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at Children’s Mercy, said that means innovative cancer treatments like immunotherapy for more kids. (Marso, 8/3)

Columbus Dispatch: Ohio Fails On Cancer-Control Policies, Study Finds
Ohio has failed a recent evaluation by the Cancer Action Network of the American Cancer Society, meeting just three of the network’s nine public-policy goals aimed at reducing cancer diagnoses and deaths. The state was highly criticized in three areas: for not prohibiting minors from using tanning beds; for allocating just 10.3 percent of the federal government’s recommended funding level for tobacco-control programs; and for appropriating less than one-third of matching funds to a federal award for breast and cervical cancer screening programs. (Viviano, 8/3)

Columbus Dispatch: Legionella Cases Confirmed In Two Whitehall Nursing Home Residents
Two Whitehall nursing home residents were hospitalized last month with respiratory infections caused by legionella bacteria. The Manor at Whitehall is now working with Franklin County Public Health and a private contractor to determine whether the bacteria came from the water systems inside the 150-bed facility on Langley Avenue. (Widman Neese, 8/3)

California Healthline: Taking Stock Of California’s Big Week In Health Care
This has been a momentous week for health care in California.The Covered California exchange announced that its premiums will likely rise by an average of 12.5 percent statewide next year. On top of that, the exchange may add an average 12.4 percent surcharge to silver level plans if President Donald Trump stops funding critical subsidies that help reduce some consumers’ out-of-pocket expenses — or if uncertainty over their fate persists. (8/3)

Georgia Health News: Many Migrant Farmworkers Face Medical Challenges, Barriers To Care
The farmworkers who move through the region, harvesting and packing the produce, are at a higher risk for certain health problems — particularly diabetes and hypertension, says Judy Wold, clinical professor of nursing at Emory University, who directs a two-week program of health care services for farmworkers there during summers. The farmworkers also often face barriers to health care. (Simonton, 8/3)

Houston Chronicle: Texas Lawmakers Remain At Odds Over Retired Teacher Health Care Costs 
A bill that would stabilize health care costs for tens of thousands of Texas' retired teachers for the next two years sailed through the House on final reading Wednesday, although its future is far from certain in the Senate as the political drama between the two chambers intensifies. Lawmakers in both Republican-led chambers have said the state should bear some of the rising costs for premium, deductible and out-of-pocket health expenses facing the state's retired teachers, who are expecting to see their health care expenses soar in 2018. However, the two sides are at odds about how to pay for it. (Zelinski,  8/3)

KQED: Despite Marijuana Legalization, California’s Black Market Could Remain Huge
Legalizing marijuana, California voters were told last year, would create a “safe, legal and comprehensive system” allowing adults to consume the drug while keeping it out of the hands of children. ...But as state regulators prepare to begin offering licenses to marijuana businesses on Jan. 1, it turns out that a huge portion of the state’s weed is likely to remain on the black market. (Rosenhall, 8/4)

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