KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Roundup: Some N.Y. Hospitals Don’t Carry Malpractice Insurance

A selection of health policy stories from New York, Massachusetts, Mississippi, California, Georgia, Oregon and Colorado.

The New York Times: Troubled New York Hospitals Forgo Coverage For Malpractices
Several of the city's most troubled hospitals are partially or completely uninsured for malpractice, state records show, forgoing what is considered a standard safeguard across the country (Hartocollis, 7/15).

Boston Globe: Health Cost Bill May Not Attack Key Problem
As legislative leaders close in on a major health care cost-control bill, key efforts to attack one of the most-cited reasons for rising medical spending -- the market power of caregivers who demand high prices for their services -- appear to be in jeopardy. … Now, the impact of two major proposals in the House plan that are ­intended to level the playing field -- a one-time luxury tax on high-priced providers and restrictions on contract negotiations -- is in doubt after lobbying by hospitals (Kowalczyk, 7/15).

AP/WBUR: Mass. Lawmakers Face Scramble As Session Nears End
The two-year legislative session on Beacon Hill is heading into the homestretch. With formal sessions set to end on July 31, a number of major bills await final action by lawmakers. Atop that list is a health care cost containment measure. Both the House and Senate have passed versions of the bill that seeks to reduce health care expenditures by $150 billion to $160 billion over 15 years. A conference committee has been working to reconcile differences between the two versions (7/14).

The Associated Press: Judge Grants More Time To Miss. Abortion Clinic
The future of Mississippi's only clinic where women can get an abortion remains unclear after a federal judge's ruling in a closely watched court case. U.S. District Judge Daniel P. Jordan III ruled Friday that a strict abortion law passed by the Republican-controlled legislature can take effect, but he gave the clinic more time to comply with the law's requirements and said it won't face any criminal or civil penalties as it tries to do so (Pettus, 7/14).

Reuters: Judge Rules Mississippi Abortion Clinic Can Stay Open For Now
Mississippi's sole abortion clinic won a court battle on Friday to stay open while it challenges the constitutionality of a new state law requiring its doctors to have local hospital admitting privileges. The law, which abortion rights advocates say is a thinly veiled attempt to ban abortions in Mississippi, has threatened to make Mississippi the only U.S. state without such a facility (Le Coz, 7/13).

Politico Pro: Anti-Abortion State Activity Slows In 2012
When it comes to anti-abortion legislative activity in the states, 2012 is not the year that 2011 was. It’s not for lack of trying. A midyear analysis released this week by the Guttmacher Institute says 39 abortion restrictions had been signed into law as of July, down from 80 at this time last year. But 39 is still a lot -- aside from 2011, it’s more than any other year in history (Smith, 7/13).

Los Angeles Times: Imperial County Leads State In Treatment Of Children With Asthma
For children with asthma in California, there is no place worse than Imperial County. They are far more likely than children in any other county to end up in the emergency room or hospitalized. Kids go the ER for asthma at a rate three times higher than the state's average, according to the Department of Public Health (Gorman, 7/16).

Los Angeles Times: UC Riverside Makes Rare Second Attempt To Add Medical School
UC Riverside's long-held dream to have a full medical school was badly battered last year when the state refused to pay for it and then national accreditors wouldn't allow it to open. Those denials were a blow to the UC system's proud tradition of adding campuses and programs to serve a growing state (Gordon, 7/15).

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Corrections Chief: Decriminalize Mental Illness
One of every six inmates in state prisons is mentally ill, and the man who locks them up says that's too many. "I think it's about time to decriminalize mental illness," said Georgia Corrections Commissioner Brian Owens. Owens, adding his voice to those calling for sweeping reform in the state's criminal justice system, acknowledges that many mentally ill inmates are dangerous and should remain locked up. But he also points out that hundreds, perhaps thousands, do no represent a threat to the public and should be in treatment, not prison (Rankin and Teegardin, 7/15).

KQED: Millions In Health Care District Deals Involve Firms With Ties To Officials
A financial review of more than 20 health care districts in California found millions of dollars in transactions involving companies and nonprofits with ties to top district officials. The findings raise questions about the adequacy of state and local scrutiny of the taxpayer-funded districts, which operate nursing homes and hospitals, distribute grants to health programs and manage their own real estate portfolios. The elected boards that run California health care districts oversee more than $4 billion annually in public and private funds from sources including state and local taxpayers, investments, real estate holdings and, in some cases, hospital revenues (Gollan/Mieszkowski, 7/13).

The Oregonian: Oregon's Healthy Kids Program At Three Years Shows Mixed Record While Signing Up Uninsured Children
Three years ago, Oregon lawmakers approved the Healthy Kids program. It offers health coverage to all children, funded by a 1-percent tax on commercial insurance. That tax expires next year just as the biggest federal health care changes in generations will be rolling out nationwide for adults and children alike. Healthy Kids director Cathy Kaufmann says the program serves as a model for the changes ahead. And that her office remains key to the state's goals (Budnick, 7/14).

California Watch: Alameda County Takes On Drug Companies Over Medication Disposal
Alameda County is poised to make drug companies pay for the safe collection and disposal of residents' unused medications. The measure would apply to prescription drugs like penicillin as well as tightly controlled substances like OxyContin. Supporters say the ordinance would help prevent overdoses and accidental poisonings and reduce water pollution -- claims the pharmaceutical industry insists are not true (Mieszkowski, 7/16).

Boston Globe: Glen Shor Is Working To Prove Universal Health Care Can Succeed
Lots of politicians might like to claim credit for implementing universal health care in Massachusetts (including Mitt Romney, er, sometimes). But after the photo ops are done, it's the state's insurance exchange -- the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority -- that will determine whether it's successful or not. No one knows that pressure more than Glen Shor, involved with the agency virtually since its beginning six years ago, first as Deval Patrick's point person on health care and, since June 2010, as the authority’s executive director (Blanding, 7/15).

Health Policy Solutions (a Colo. news service)/I-News Network: Diabetes Epidemic Largely Ignored By Coloradans
One in eight Coloradans likely will have diabetes by 2030, according to new estimates from the Colorado Health Institute, and the epidemic will cost the state an estimated $8.3 billion a year. … Few Coloradans seem to share Lindley’s sense of urgency, however. Polls of the 1,000 Coloradans participating in Gov. John Hickenlooper’s TBD Colorado initiative have found that proposed remedies for the obesity epidemic sweeping the state receive precious little support. Among 10 public policies to consider implementing in the next two years, anti-obesity measures ranked lowest. Healthy food choices for students were backed by fewer than 7 percent of TBD participants, while physical education in schools was supported by only 6 percent (Brennan, 7/13).

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.