KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Federal Officials Ask Judge To Order Upgrade Of Georgia’s Mental Health System; Va. Officials In Court Today On Suit Against Health Law

Atlanta Journal Constitution: "Talks to settle a federal investigation of Georgia's mental health system came down to a single meeting Wednesday." And, "the talks failed. Federal authorities immediately went to court, asking a judge to force Georgia to make substantial and potentially expensive improvements in its state psychiatric hospitals and in its community-based treatment services - the same measures state officials rejected during the negotiations. The U.S. Justice Department also wants the judge to take oversight of the state system from Georgia's newly formed mental health agency and put it into the hands of an outside monitor" (Judd, 7/1).

Richmond Times-Dispatch: "Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli today makes his case for keeping his lawsuit against President Barack Obama's federal health-care reform legislation alive and kicking. Cuccinelli and a team of deputy attorneys general will argue before U.S. District Court Judge Henry E. Hudson against a motion by lawyers for the Obama administration to dismiss Virginia's challenge to the legislation. Virginia is arguing that a provision that would force nearly every American to obtain health insurance by 2014, or pay a penalty, violates the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution by compelling Americans to engage in commerce." Twenty other states have teamed up with Florida in a similar lawsuit (Nolan, 7/1).

Tampa Bay Business Journal: "Florida ranked second in the nation for the number of residents lacking health insurance in 2009, according to a survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. The National Health Interview survey found that 19.3 percent of Floridians had no health coverage at the time of the survey, compared to a 15.4 percent national average. Only Texas was higher, at 24.6 percent. Since most people over the age of 65 years are on Medicare, the number of people in the market for insurance, but lacking it, was actually worse. The CDC reported that 23.2 percent of residents under the age of 65 were uninsured, compared to the 17.5 percent national average. Again, only Texas was worse" (Bandell, 6/30).

The Arizona Republic: "A new batch of medical residents begins training at hospitals across Arizona today, but getting enough to stay to offset the state's physician shortage remains a challenge. Despite efforts to expand residency programs and increase retention rates around Arizona hospitals, more than a third to nearly half of the medical residents ... are expected to leave eventually to practice elsewhere. … The estimated 2010 national ratio is about 299 physicians per 100,000 people but 213 state-licensed physicians per 100,000 for Arizona. In 2004, the ratio for Arizona was 207 per 100,000" (Lee, 7/1). 

Kansas Health Institute: "A new non-profit corporation will oversee the exchange of electronic health information in Kansas. ... It will be governed by a 17-member board of directors, most of whom will be named by the governor at a later date. The federal economic stimulus of 2009 included $34 billion in incentives for medical providers to maintain and use electronic health records for their patients. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act also called for creation of state or regional health information exchanges so the records could be easily transferred from one provider or treatment location to the next" (6/30).

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