KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Md.’s Rate-Setting Policies Explained; Palliative Care Rare In Ga.

This roundup of state hospital news also includes reports about a Mass. hospital company planning layoffs and the controversy over the proposed sale of a hospital in Denver.

NPR: Violence At Calif. Mental Hospitals: 'This Is The Norm'
Thousands of assaults occur each year at California's state psychiatric hospitals. Last October, a patient allegedly murdered a staffer at Napa State Hospital. Employees there demonstrated, demanding greater safety. Now, the protests have spread to Metropolitan State Hospital near Los Angeles ... Last year, staff members were attacked by patients more than 1,300 times - nearly double the number of assaults from the year before. Meanwhile, patients assaulted other patients at a rate of almost seven times a day (Jaffe, 7/21).

Atlanta Journal Constitution: Palliative Care Programs Rare In Georgia, Study Finds
Georgia hospitals lag behind the nation in offering palliative care, a range of services that help patients and families deal with devastating conditions and difficult treatments. A new University of Georgia study found that just 18 percent of Georgia hospitals have palliative care programs, even though research has shown that the services can extend lives and reduce health care expenses. Nationwide, about 60 percent of hospitals have a palliative care staff (Teegardin, 7/21).

The Boston Globe: Hospital Network Cutting 354 Positions
Baystate Health, the Springfield parent of Bay State Medical Center and two other Western Massachusetts hospitals, yesterday said it will shed 354 jobs, or about 3.5 percent of its 10,064-person payroll, to make up for a projected $25 million budget shortfall. The cutback comes as Baystate and other hospital networks across the state grapple with deepening cuts in Medicaid, the state program that insures low-income patients. Baystate estimates it lost $26.5 million last year -- more than its anticipated shortfall -- because of state underfunding of Medicaid (Weisman, 7/21). 

WBUR's CommonHealth blog: Q&A: Trillion-Dollar Maryland Wisdom On Setting Hospital Prices
Bob Murray estimates that if the American health system had been run the way he has helped run Maryland's over the last 25 years, the country could have saved close to two trillion dollars. ... This seems like a good time to ask about a unique model for using state regulation to hold down health costs: Maryland. Its independent Health Services Cost Review Commission has been setting price levels for its hospitals since 1971 (Goldberg, 7/20).

Denver Post: Colorado Nonprofit's Planned Sale Of Share In Hospitals To HCA Raises Doubts
The Colorado Health Foundation has no guarantee that medical giant HCA will keep open all of its hospitals after the foundation's $1.45 billion sale of its share of their joint venture, and the board is still bargaining for assurances that HCA will continue Medicaid care in the state's largest hospital system, documents show. Papers obtained by The Denver Post in an open-records request also show the foundation board questioned whether HCA managers would have new profit incentives and cost pressures after the Nashville, Tenn.-based hospital chain became publicly held again in March (Booth, 7/21).

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