KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Free Health Clinic Planned For D.C. Area; University Of Kansas To Study Indian Health; Ga. Weighs Health Needs Of Older Prisoners

The Washington Post: "In the run-up to this week's giant free clinic in the District, Nicole Lamoureux, the lead organizer, could tell that hearts were racing, blood pressure was increasing and tension was rising. Calls from patients scheduling appointments were starting to pour into her office, but there weren't enough volunteer medical workers to see them. ... About 800 doctors, nurses and support staff members had volunteered by Sunday to test and prescribe treatment for about 1,200 people, most of whom are expected to come from the District, Virginia and Maryland, Lamoureux said. One thousand volunteers are needed for the city's first large-scale free clinic." Supporters of the event say such large-scale free clinics "haven't always been welcome in the District" and point out that one planned for last year was canceled after supporters learned that they would have to pay a $77,000 rental fee for the facility (Fears, 8/2).

Kansas Health Institute: "The University of Kansas Medical Center has been awarded a five-year, $7.5 million grant to study and address health disparities facing American Indians. Plans call for the medical center using the grant to start the Center for American Indian Community Health. ... In the United States, American Indians are more than four times as likely to die of diabetes and twice as likely to die from tobacco-related illnesses as the population at-large. ... American Indians have the lowest five-year survival rates for all major cancers and the lowest screening rates for breast and colorectal cancers. Their obesity rates, too, are among the highest in the nation" (Ranney, 7/30).

Chicago Examiner: Ill. Gov. Pat Quinn has signed legislation that "transforms the care Illinois delivers to frail nursing residents. ... The new law remakes the system of admission to nursing homes, ensuring that only those in need of 24-hour skilled care are admitted. The law also strengthens the screening process to prevent residents with violent criminal histories from being placed with vulnerable, older adults" (Ormsby, 7/30).

The Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle, on the aging of Georgia's prison population: "In 2000, just 3.5 percent of the state's 44,000 prisoners were 55 or older. Today, that percentage has doubled to 7 percent as the total prison population grew, too, by 10,000. Georgia has 27 inmates in their 80s, 218 in their 70s, and their numbers are a ripple compared with the tidal wave of prisoners sentenced to life as young adults under the two-strikes-and-you're-out legislation who are approaching middle age. Georgia's Constitution empowers the Board of Pardons and Paroles to release any prisoner older than 62 or a younger one who is entirely incapacitated. The definition of incapacitated, though, is subject to interpretation. ... Thirty-five states have similar provisions for a medical release, and six relaxed them in the past three years, according to Alison Lawrence, a policy specialist with the National Conference of State Legislatures. Compassion and costs are driving the trend" (Jones, 7/31).

WLOX (Biloxi, Miss.): "This month marks five years since Hurricane Katrina displaced thousands of South Mississippians, including many of those working in the medical profession. Healthcare officials said the result is a shortage of primary care doctors in our area. At Sunday's grand re-opening for Internal Medicine of Long Beach, healthcare workers talked about what it will take to get more physicians here" (Thomas, 8/1).

Albany (Ga.) Herald, on osteopathic doctors: "[M]any of the [doctors of osteopathic medicine] in Albany can provide patients with the same type of care as medical doctors in the area, if not more. ... The main difference between MDs and DOs is that doctors of osteopathic medicine receive extra training in the musculoskeletal system, which make up the muscles and bones of a person, and are specially trained to perform osteopathic manipulations on patients. ... [An] approach to general wellness has always been a core part of osteopathic medicine since its inception in 1874 with its founder, Andrew Taylor Still. ... Currently there are approximately 67,000 practicing DOs in the nation who receive their training at 25 osteopathic colleges in 28 locations in the United States" (Barker, 8/2).

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