KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Highlights: Calif. Judges Warn Gov. Over Prison Care

A selection of health policy stories from California, Georgia, Virginia, Oregon and Colorado.

Bloomberg: Boomers Push Doctor-Assisted Dying In End-Of-Life Revolt
Claudia Burzichelli doesn't want to die like her dad. … In states across the country, including New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont, graying baby boomers have been lobbying lawmakers in recent months at hearings, in letters and by phone, pushing to make it legal for doctors to prescribe life-ending drugs to terminally ill patients. Advocates and opponents say there is more support this year than in past attempts with five states considering such legislation (Pettypiece, 4/11).

Los Angeles Times: Judges Threaten Gov. Jerry Brown With Contempt Of Court
The order arrived amid escalating tension between Brown and the judges, who have handled a series of cases involving California prisons, and is a setback for the governor. In January, Brown declared the prison crisis over and launched a legal and public relations crusade to end court oversight of inmate health care, which has been in place since 2006, calling it unnecessarily costly and otherwise burdensome (Megerian, 4/11).

Los Angeles Times: LA Country Cites 16 'Maternity Hotel' Owners
Following a flurry of complaints, Los Angeles County inspectors have cited 16 "maternity hotel" owners for illegally operating boardinghouses in residential zones. The facilities, all in Rowland Heights or Hacienda Heights, will ultimately be shut down, county officials said. No major health or safety issues were found at the hotels, where women from Asia stay to give birth to U.S. citizen babies (Chang, 4/11).

Georgia Health News: Schools Urged To Plan More Exercise For Kids
State officials are urging Georgia school superintendents to consider adopting a daily 30-minute period of physical activity for elementary school students. A letter sent this week by state school Superintendent John Barge and by Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, commissioner of the state Department of Public Health, cites the obesity epidemic as the impetus for the voluntary “Power Up for 30” program (Miller, 4/11).

Richmond Times-Dispatch: VCU Dentists And Nurse Practitioners Collaborate On Patient Care
Dominiquea Rosario sees a dentist regularly for debilitating jaw pain, but at her last two dental appointments at Virginia Commonwealth University she also saw a nurse practitioner who checked her blood sugar and blood pressure. In a new practice model, dentists and nurse practitioners at VCU are teaming up to see patients together, with goals of increasing access to care, better understanding the connection between oral health issues and disease elsewhere in the body and lowering health care costs (Smith, 4/12).  

The Lund Report: Dembrow Pitches Oregon Universal Health Care Study
The Affordable Care Act will roll out next year, and Oregon has instituted its own pioneering health care delivery reforms through coordinated care organizations. But Rep. Michael Dembrow, D-Portland, believes these reforms will not go nearly far enough to drive down the health care costs and make health care affordable for everyone. He and other liberal Democrats would like to go beyond the federal health insurance reforms and get rid of private health insurance once and for all, replacing it with a single-payer government health insurance similar to Medicare that would provide coverage to everyone from cradle-to-grave (Gray, 4/12).

California Watch: Lawmakers Mull Next Steps For Developmental Centers
State lawmakers weighed today whether to appoint an inspector general to oversee state centers for the developmentally disabled and close a center in Sonoma where patients suffered the worst instances of abuse, neglect and sexual assaults. During a daylong hearing, members of a Senate budget subcommittee on health and human services heard testimony from state officials and advocates for the developmentally disabled but did not indicate what action they might take (Harris, 4/11).

Oregonian: Essential Health Clinic: How It Collapsed After Spending Hundreds Of Thousands On Growth
The doctors volunteered. Most of the drugs were donated. The clinic space was free. And yet Essential Health Clinic -- which provided free urgent care to thousands of uninsured people in Washington County for 12 years -- abruptly shut its doors in Hillsboro and Tigard last month. Founder and interim executive director Sue Neal said it was a simple case of a nonprofit that didn't get funding (Nirappil, 4/11).

Health Policy Solutions (a Colo. news service): Attacks From Left And Right Undermine Gun Bill On Mental Health
As [Colo. State Rep. Beth] McCann has fought for a bill on guns and mental health, it turns out that forces on both the left and right colluded to undermine the effort. Gun-rights advocates in Colorado disagreed sharply with the NRA and didn’t want any lists of gun owners whether they had suffered mental illnesses or not. Civil libertarians objected to a lack of due process that could allow seizures of guns from innocent people. And advocates for people experiencing mental illnesses worried that the proposed bill would further stigmatize people in need of care and could frighten them away from seeking treatment (Kerwin McCrimmon, 4/11).

California Healthline: In-Home Support Services 8% Cut Approved
The Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Health and Human Services yesterday approved the settlement over cuts to In-Home Supportive Services. The agreement reduces the severity of the cut from the original 20% proposal to its current 8% cutback. … The original 20% IHSS cuts were triggered by lower-than-projected budget numbers at the end of 2011. A lawsuit filed by Service Employees International Union and Disability Rights California challenged the trigger reduction. A federal judge issued a temporary restraining order to halt it. Last month, the two sides worked out a compromise settlement. The agreement calls for an 8% cut in service hours this year, and a 7% cut in hours next year. It affects about 370,000 Californians, mostly seniors, who receive IHSS care (Gorn, 4/11).

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