State Roundup: Texas Planned Parenthood Hearing Contentious
A selection of health policy stories from Massachusetts, Texas, Idaho, Florida, California, Kansas, North Carolina, Georgia and Minnesota.
Stateline: A New Battleground In 'Right To Die' Debate
On Election Day, voters in the Bay State will consider whether to approve the "Death With Dignity Act," a measure that would make Massachusetts just the third state in the country to formally approve physician-assisted suicide. The proposal, identified as Question 2 on the ballot, is nearly identical to laws passed in Oregon in 1994 and in Washington in 2008. But the politics is very different. The looming vote has split the state’s medical community and mobilized opposition from the politically powerful Catholic Church (Grovum, 9/11).
The Associated Press/ABC News: Texas Hearing On Planned Parenthood Gets Emotional
State lawmakers, hospital system administrators and dozens of women urged Texas officials Tuesday not to sever funding to Planned Parenthood under a law barring state support for clinics affiliated with abortion providers. A smaller, but no less vocal, number of people opposing abortion turned out to applaud the move during an emotionally charged public hearing (Weissert, 9/11).
The Associated Press/Idaho Stateman: Idaho Could Save $380M With Medicaid Expansion
Idaho's taxpayers could save $380 million over six years by agreeing to expand Medicaid coverage for more low-income people under President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, according an analysis by the Spokesman-Review. Currently, costs of caring for Idaho's indigent population -- often poor, single men with no children who don't currently qualify for Medicaid -- are borne by counties and the state as part of Idaho's "Catastrophic Health Care Fund." The total bill is expected to top $60 million next year (9/10).
Kansas Health Institute News: KanCare Confidential
Johnson County commissioners have hit a wall in their effort to learn how much the three insurance companies that have signed contracts to run the Kansas Medicaid program will collect in profit or administrative fees. State officials told them they would not share the requested financial information because it was "proprietary and confidential," according to Maury Thompson, director of Johnson County Developmental Supports, a county agency that provides services to the disabled and which initiated the information request (Shields, 9/10).
Bloomberg: Florida Brain-Injury Center Fights Order To Move Patients
A Florida brain-injury facility accused of abusive and substandard practices is fighting a state order to move out scores of patients, saying regulators are overstepping their authority. The Florida Institute for Neurologic Rehabilitation, located 50 miles southeast of Tampa in rural Wauchula, told the state Friday that it would not begin the process of discharging any patients until a judge hears an appeal it filed on Aug. 28. ... The dispute stems from a surprise inspection last month by three state agencies (Armstrong, 9/10).
California Healthline: Oversight Commission: 'Descriptions Incomplete'
A state oversight commission found little to no substance in reports of programmatic misconduct in its initial report released yesterday on concerns raised over compliance with Mental Health Services Act program in California. "Basically, in the programs that were mentioned, the descriptions of those programs were incomplete," said Jennifer Whitney, chief of communications for the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission. ... Several recent news reports questioned 13 different programmatic elements that supposedly used MHSA funds for such things as yoga classes and a sweat lodge (Gorn, 9/11).
California Healthline: Pilot Program Helps Kids With Severe Diagnoses, Saves Money
The pilot program, Partners for Children -- a joint partnership of CHPCC and the state Department of Health Care Services -- brings care to the home for some children with serious illness. Keeping those children in the home environment not only increases quality of life for those children and their families, but also results in better outcomes for those children, according to a study recently released by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. The study also found significant cost savings associated with the pilot program (Gorn, 9/10).
Earlier, related KHN story: Palliative Care Can Help Children And Families Navigate Bewildering Medical Terrain (Kenen, 3/28/11)
Georgia Health News: Federal Drug Discount Program Under Scrutiny
A low-profile drug discount program is getting increased attention from a federal agency and members of Congress, including scrutiny of a South Georgia hospital's medication purchases. The 340B drug discount program allows hospitals and other safety-net organizations to get big discounts when buying medications for low-income patients. Several U.S. lawmakers, in letters to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), have sought to ensure that the program is serving the right patients. They have cited a Government Accountability Office report saying the drug program has "inadequate" oversight by HRSA (Miller, 9/10).
Minnesota Public Radio: Community Paramedic Ranks Begin To Grow In Minn.
Minnesota could have within several years several hundred practicing "community paramedics," a new designation of health care providers spawned by the shortage of doctors and nurses in rural parts of the state. Once certified, community paramedics can deal with a range of non-emergency health care needs that otherwise, for example, might send people unnecessarily to the emergency room and wind up costing more. Minnesota is the first state in the country to establish the new classification under law (Robertson, 9/11).
North Carolina Health News: NC Looks To The Future Of Health Information Technology
Tired of repeating the same history every time you go to a doctor’s office? A group gathered in Greensboro this week looks to make that a thing of the past. ... North Carolina has been slowly making progress on reaching the goals of computerizing health information and making that information accessible across the health care system. But realizing those promises is still a long way off. Getting closer to that goal is the purpose behind a two-day conference on health information technology in Greensboro (Hoban, 9/11).