KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Roundup: Genetic Testing On Campus, Texas Docs In Mass., And More

Associated Press/Arizona Republic: "A plan by the University of California, Berkeley to voluntarily test the DNA of incoming freshman has come under fire from critics who said the school was pushing an unproven technology on impressionable students. The university has said it will send test kits to 5,500 new students to analyze genes that help control the body's responses to alcohol, dairy products and folic acid" (Wohlsen, 5/21).

The Boston Globe: "A group of community hospitals in Southeastern Massachusetts has taken the unusual step of partnering with doctors from an out-of-state academic medical center to provide cancer treatment - instead of one of Boston's prestigious hospitals. Southcoast Health System - which includes hospitals in Fall River, New Bedford, and Wareham - has signed an affiliation agreement with doctors from MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, one of the nation's leading cancer hospitals, to help provide patient care, including advising the hospital on drug regimens, pain control, and chemotherapy safety and providing opinions on difficult cases" (Kowalczyk, 5/21).

Associated Press/Philadelphia Inquirer: "A New Jersey judge ruled Thursday that a new law requiring public employees to pay at least 1.5 percent of their salaries toward health insurance can go into effect Friday, as scheduled. Unions for police and firefighters had asked Superior Court Judge Linda Feinberg for a temporary restraining order that would have kept the law from taking effect - at least in some situations" (Mulvihill, 5/21).

Los Angeles Times: "Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposal for the University of California and its medical schools to manage healthcare for the state's prison inmates, including via the Internet, received significant criticism Thursday at a hearing before the university's regents. Leaders of the union that represents current prison doctors were the most vocal opponents, warning that UC medical staff would face frequently violent patients, higher-than-expected costs and malpractice lawsuits challenging long-distance online diagnoses" (Gordon, 5/21).

The Oklahoman: "Legislators are scheduled to vote today on a budget bill that would fund state government for the upcoming 2011 fiscal year based on an agreement announced Thursday by the Democratic governor and Republican legislative leaders. The $6.7 billion budget is dependent upon about $300 million in so-called revenue enhancements." Those would include $78 million from a new 1 percent fee that insurance companies will pay on health care claims. Those funds "will be put into an account with the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, which should be matched about 3-to-1 with federal funds" (McNutt, 5/21).

Associated Press/Las Vegas Sun: "South Carolina would cut spending for cancer screening, AIDS treatment and prevention and prescription drugs to cover a shortfall in state court and police funding under a proposal House members were reviewing Wednesday. A health care advocate said the proposal House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dan Cooper handed out would leave the state's poor without critical medication, and allow deadly cancers to go undetected" (5/21).

Associated Press/Bloomberg Businessweek: "State lawmakers could slow down or stall Gov. Bobby Jindal's plans to hire outside contractors to run some of Louisiana's inpatient psychiatric treatment facilities, under a bill that received House backing Thursday. The proposal by Rep. John Bel Edwards, D-Amite, would give lawmakers the ability to reject privatization contracts involving the state's mental hospitals. That includes two facilities the Jindal administration proposes to privatize in the upcoming budget year" (Deslatte, 5/20).

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