KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Supreme Court To Hear Case On Overcrowding And Medical Needs Of Calif. Prisoners; Ohio State Employees Have Unusual Situation Covering Adult Children

The Los Angeles Times: "Agreeing to hear an appeal from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the U.S. Supreme Court said Monday it will decide whether the state can be forced to release 46,000 inmates - more than one-fourth of its prison population - to relieve overcrowding. The justices said they would hear the case in the fall and rule early next year.  … A special three-judge panel decided last year that the state's prisoners were being given inadequate medical and mental health care. Denying needed care to prisoners has been held to violate the 8th Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment. … The judges concluded the overcrowding was the "primary cause" of this violation, and they ordered the state to cap the population of its prisons at 137% of capacity" (Savage, 6/15).

The Christian Science Monitor: "Lawyers for a group of California inmates have been fighting for 20 years for improved medical and mental health care. Courts have ruled that the level of care in overcrowded California prisons violates the Constitution. But efforts at reform have stalled or failed as California prison populations have ballooned to roughly twice the system's design capacity" (Richey, 6/14). 

The Columbus Dispatch: "State employees who add adult children to their health policies will pay about $150 a month for a year. After that, the federal health-reform program will kick in and the costs will drop. State workers are subject to this one-year expense because of the timing of their health plans' renewal and competing laws. The Ohio dependent law, which covers adult children as old as 28, takes effect for health polices that renew after July 1, the same date the health-insurance policies for state workers renew. This law says employers can offer the coverage but don't have to pay for it. Federal law, which covers adult children as old as 26, affects policies that renew after Sept. 23. This law requires employers to pay the same portion of a policy for adult children as they do for other dependents" (Hoholik, 6/14). 

The Associated Press/Bloomberg Business Week: "California lawmakers have moved a step closer to securing $761 million in federal funds to provide health insurance to people with pre-existing conditions. A bill adopted by the state Assembly Monday would fund a high-risk insurance program for about 30,000 people who can't get coverage. It is one of about a dozen bills before the Legislature that would remake California's health care market to conform with federal reforms that President Obama signed into law earlier this year" (6/14).

Kansas Health Institute: "An October 2008 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, among others, has estimated that the United States will experience a shortage of as many as 44,000 primary care physicians by 2025, a result of an aging population and too few physicians who are choosing primary care over specialized medicine. At the same time, millions will enter the health care system as they gain access to health insurance, putting additional pressure on an already stressed structure. Hospitalists are considered a key player in the efforts to provide care for those patients and implement new quality standards that will be set as a result of the health care legislation that was signed into law earlier this year" (Green, 6/14).

Kansas Health Institute, in a separate article: "Hospitals in cities such as Wichita and Topeka are finding that hospitalist positions are becoming an important recruiting tool. … The flexible schedules remain the biggest draw for young physicians who fear long days and too much time away from family. … Having hospitalists on staff also helps with the recruiting of primary care physicians who are equally concerned about long hours and family time cut short, said Dr. Kent Palmberg, senior vice president and chief medical officer for Stormont-Vail HealthCare in Topeka" (Green, 6/14). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.