KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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State Highlights: Va. Deregulation Bill Advances; Puerto Rico’s Financial Problems Hit Health Care

News outlets report on health issues in Virginia, Puerto Rico, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Utah, New York and Pennsylvania.

The Richmond Times Dispatch: House Health Care Deregulation Bill Advances To Full Senate
A House bill that gives something to both sides on the health care deregulation debate advanced to the full Senate on Thursday with provisions to set up a charity care fund and a funding mechanism to offset some expected financial losses of hospitals. House Bill 350, sponsored by Del. Kathy J. Byron, R-Bedford, would remove MRI and CT scan imaging services and lithotripsy from under the decades-old state certificate of public need review system. (Smith, 3/3)

NPR: Puerto Rico's Growing Financial Crisis Threatens Health Care, Too
A nearly decade-long recession has taken a severe toll on the island's economy. Half of [San Jorge Children's Hospital's] patients are on Medicaid now, up from a fifth just a few years ago. And, for decades, the U.S. government has capped Medicaid reimbursements in Puerto Rico at a level far below what states receive. [Vice president of operations, Domingo Cruz Vivaldi] says that cap has forced his hospital and many others to cut services — he's had to close two wings and 40 rooms. He only managed to avoid staff layoffs, he says, by freezing 100 open positions — doctors, nurses, technicians and support personnel. And last year, when Puerto Rico ran out of money and couldn't make a $250 million payment to hospitals, San Jorge was forced to reduce hours and cut pay for all employees. (Allen, 3/3)

The Associated Press: New Hampshire Revamps Health Care Cost Comparison Site
New Hampshire consumers can now compare prices on dental care and prescription drugs in addition to medical procedures through a state government website designed to help them save money on health care costs. The New Hampshire Insurance Department has added features to its NH HealthCost online tool. The update announced Thursday includes information on 31 new medical procedures, including physical therapy and behavioral health, 16 dental procedures and 65 prescription drugs. (Ramer, 3/3)

The Associated Press: Mobile Dental Care Program Hits 30K Patient Visit Mark In SD
A mobile dental program operated by Delta Dental has reached a milestone after ... seeing its 30,000th patient visit. Delta Dental of South Dakota says its mobile dental program has given care to young patients in 78 communities since it began in 2004. The company says the value of the free care the mobile program has provided amounts to $14.5 million. (3/3)

The Associated Press: Utah Clinic Settles Suit After Inmate Missed Dialysis, Died
A University of Utah clinic has quietly settled a lawsuit with the family of an inmate who died after a dialysis provider didn't show up to give him treatment for two days. Attorney Robert Sykes said Thursday he can't reveal the details of the settlement reached last month due to a confidentiality agreement, but says Ramon C. Estrada's family is pleased. (3/3)

Reuters: New York State's 'Tampon Tax' Targeted In Class-Action Suit
New York state's "tampon tax" reflects a double standard that applies the sales tax to menstrual products used by women while exempting items typically used by men, such as Rogaine and condoms, according to a class-action lawsuit filed on Thursday. "It's a tax on women for being women. And that's wrong," said Ilann Maazel, a lawyer representing the five women who filed the class action in state Supreme Court in Manhattan. (Goldberg, 3/3)

The Philadelphia Inquirer: Penn Researchers: Try Twitter To Recruit Clinical Trial Volunteers
Recruiting enough adults to participate in clinical trials to test new medical treatments is often one of the biggest barriers researchers face. In fact, only about 5 percent of adult cancer patients participate in trials, which are essential to getting new drugs approved. Physicians at Penn, writing this week in the journal JAMA Oncology, think Twitter could be the solution. (Wood, 3/3)

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