State Highlights: Calif. Bill Would Fine Big Employers with Employees on Medi-Cal
A selection of health care policy stories from California, New York, the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Arizona and Minnesota.
Los Angeles Times: California Bill Would Fine Big Firms Whose Workers Get Medi-Cal
For years, politicians and labor unions have pilloried Wal-Mart and other large employers for paying workers so little that many qualify for government health insurance at taxpayers' expense. Now critics fear the public will get stuck with an even bigger tab as California and other states expand Medicaid as part of the federal health care law. That has California lawmakers taking aim at the world's largest retailer and other big firms. Legislators, backed by unions, consumer groups and doctors, are calling for fines that could reach about $6,000 per full-time employee who ends up on Medi-Cal, the state Medicaid program for the poor and others (Terhune, 5/31).
The Wall Street Journal: Abortion Bill Sets Up Fight In N.Y. Senate
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo plans to introduce contentious abortion legislation on Tuesday, and his aides and women's rights groups have identified Republican state senators whom they will pressure to support it, according to people familiar with the matter (Orden, 6/2).
Kaiser Health News: Capsules: D.C. Approves Two New Proton Therapy Centers
After months of heated debate, two of Washington's biggest hospital systems won approval Friday to build proton treatment facilities that will cost a total of $153 million despite questions about whether the treatment is any more effective than less expensive options (Gold, 5/31).
Kaiser Health News: Boston Marathon Survivor Has Long Road Ahead
Marc Fucarile reached a huge milestone this week: He was one of the last two Boston Marathon survivors to be released from the hospital. Fucarile spent 45 days in Massachusetts General Hospital, and he hopes someday to return to work with a roofing company (Bebinger, 5/31).
Arizona Republic: Mesa Tax Would Help Hospitals With Rising Costs
It’s not the kind of sign that's welcome in a city staking much of its economic future on health care. In stark red letters, the words "hospital closed" mark what was, until several weeks ago, Arizona Regional Medical Center in Mesa. The hospital on the fringe of Mesa's downtown folded in April, hemorrhaging red ink because too many of its patients could not pay their bills. Now, the City Council is on the verge of approving a funding mechanism to help Mesa’s other hospitals recover some of those costs. It’s called an “access to care” tax. But it’s a tax in name only, and only hospitals will pay. After Monday’s expected council approval, Mesa’s hospitals will pay the city $461.91 for every patient they discharge through Dec. 31. Mesa will turn the money over to the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, and that will make the participating hospitals eligible for federal reimbursement equal to twice the amount of the tax they paid (Nelson, 6/1).
Sacramento Bee: California Coalition Seeks To Eliminate Cap On Pain-And-Suffering Damages
A West Sacramento billboard featuring an infant who died from whooping cough marks a formal declaration of war by groups targeting elimination of a cap on pain-and-suffering damages in medical negligence suits. Consumer Attorneys of California, representing trial lawyers, paid $6,635 to install the billboard. It is part of a coalition committed to spending $1 million in pushing to eliminate the $250,000 cap, said Eric Bailey, spokesman for trial lawyers (Sanders, 6/2).
California Healthline: Health Insurers Owed $271 Million
State officials this week said the Healthy Families program owes $271 million in services already provided by its network of 20 health care insurers and the program needs legislative help to fix the problem. Healthy Families' overall shortfall is projected to be $366 million for the year, a deficit caused by expiration of the managed care organization tax in December. Last week, the Senate budget subcommittee on Health and Human Services delayed a vote on the MCO tax (Hart, 5/31).
The Associated Press/MPR News: Minn. High Court Creates 'Loss Of Chance' Doctrine
A Minnesota Supreme Court decision in the case of a little girl with cancer says state law allows a patient to seek damages if a doctor's negligence causes that patient's chances of recovery or survival to be reduced -- a significant shift in the way Minnesota has looked at malpractice claims in the past. But dissenting judges warned that the decision overrules longstanding precedent and will unfairly hold doctors liable for harm that may never materialize (5/31).