KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Highlights: N.Y. Hospital Struggles To Reopen Post-Sandy

A selection of health policy stories from New York, Georgia, Florida, Maine, Oregon and Missouri.

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Suburban N.Y. Hospital Damaged By Superstorm Sandy Struggles To Reopen
Officials at the last hospital still closed because of damage from Superstorm Sandy are no longer predicting when they will be able to reopen. The Long Beach Medical Center, located on a waterfront channel just east of New York City, suffered heavy flooding damage in the October storm, requiring at least $56 million in repairs, hospital officials said (6/5).

Georgia Health News: Aetna Regional Chief Sees 'Dynamic' Times Ahead
Aetna's newly named head of its Southeast region said the company plans to launch accountable care organizations in the Georgia and Florida markets in coming months. Those networks, promoted in the 2010 health reform law (the Affordable Care Act), are combinations of physicians, hospitals and insurers that seek to deliver high-quality, efficient medical care. Mark LaBorde, an Emory University graduate who worked for Aetna in Georgia for 13 years, also said Wednesday that the company's acquisition of Coventry will bring the combined companies' membership to more than 700,000 in Georgia (Miller, 6/5).

Medscape: Physician-Assisted Suicide Voted Down In Maine
The Maine House of Representatives overwhelming defeated a bill on May 31 that would have made the state the fourth in the nation to explicitly legalize physician-assisted suicide. The vote was 95 to 43 to squelch the measure. The idea of allowing physicians to help the terminally ill die on their own terms has gone before voters and lawmakers over the past 12 months with mixed results. Voters in Massachusetts last November rejected a physician-assisted suicide proposal in a referendum while Vermont lawmakers approved a similar measure on May 13 (Lowes, 6/5).

Lund Report: Public Health Budget Calls For $4 Million In Tobacco Dollars For Prevention
The Joint Ways & Means Subcommittee on Human Services voted Tuesday to approve a preliminary budget for the Oregon Health Authority’s Public Health Division, putting up $4 million from the tobacco master settlement agreement for prevention. If the figure goes forward as the Legislature enacts the budget, this would be the first time Oregon dedicated tobacco settlement dollars directly to tobacco prevention programs, but the $4 million figure is a steep drop from the $12 million asked for earlier this session by Rep. Carolyn Tomei, D-Milwaukie, and public health advocates such as Tobacco-Free Oregon.

St. Louis Beacon: Reports Link Health Disparities Among Blacks, Hispanics To Education, Economics, Lifestyle
Eduardo Crespi says he puts in long hours promoting healthy habits among blacks and Latinos in the Columbia and Joplin regions of Missouri. … The reports on medical conditions among blacks and Hispanics show that health care disparities persist in minority communities across the state, triggering generally higher rates of illness, injury and death than among Missouri's whites (Joiner, 6/5).

Health News Florida: Pharmacists, Doctors Ignore Database
Only one-third of pharmacists and 10 percent of doctors are using Florida's prescription drug database, and that's a serious problem, federal officials told the state Board of Pharmacy on Tuesday. A consumer member of the board has been working hard to get the board to require such a check, but he didn't get anywhere on Tuesday at the board's meeting in Miami (Lamendola, 6/5).

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