KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Highlights: Maine To Permit Rx Drugs From Canada

A selection of health policy stories from Maine, Oregon, Georgia, Minnesota, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Washington, Missouri and California.

NPR: Maine Once Again Allows Mail-Order Canadian Drugs To Cut Costs
For the first time in several years, a state has acted to allow its citizens to purchase prescription drugs by mail from other countries. The idea is to take advantage of those nations' lower prices, which can be half the cost of those at American pharmacies (Rovner, 6/27).

The Lund Report: Senate Sends Hospital And Nursing Home Assessment Tax To Kitzhaber
The Senate passed the hospital and long-term care assessment tax Wednesday, ensuring that Oregon will be able to raise $1.4 billion from the federal government over the next two years to fund health and human services, including the state's Medicaid program. The hospital assessment was renewed and expanded for just two years, while the long-term care facility, or nursing home assessment, will run through 2020 (Gray 6/27).

Georgia Health News: Nurses Say State Shortchanges Licensing Board
Georgia nurses are concerned that lack of funding for their state licensing board will create problems in protecting patients from an impaired, unlicensed or dangerous nurse. A new law that goes into effect Monday will require nurses to report suspected professional violations to the Georgia Board of Nursing (Kanne 6/27).

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Views Clash At Hearing On Minnesota Childhood Vaccinations
State Health Department has proposed expanding the list of required childhood shots. Opponents say the risks are too high. In testimony that was often personal and sometimes passionate, dozens of parents turned out Thursday for a hearing on a state proposal to expand the number of required vaccinations for Minnesota children (Griffin, 6/27).

CT Mirror: State Launches Website To Promote Long-Term Care Options, Jobs
The state has launched a website and media campaign to increase awareness about the choices Connecticut residents have for receiving long-term care and the career options for caregivers. The campaign, called My Place CT, is part of an effort to expand the ability of seniors and people with disabilities to live in communities, rather than institutional settings like nursing homes (Becker, 6/27). 

Boston Globe: AIDS Action, Fenway Health Forge New Partnership
Two of Boston's landmark AIDS organizations are joining forces, announcing Thursday a "strategic partnership" between Fenway Health and AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts that leaders say will improve care at a time when people are living longer with the virus, while bolstering the stability of services amid shrinking federal and state funding. … Under the new partnership, approved by the boards of both organizations, Fenway Health and AIDS Action will unite to become one corporate structure but each will retain its nonprofit status, name, and mission (Lazar, 6/27).

Oregonian: Small Oregon Insurer Drops Plans To Offer 2014 Individual Policies
Just a day after learning its state-approved premium will be 35 percent less than the firm requested, Portland-based FamilyCare Health Plans is dropping its plan to expand into the individual market next year. FamilyCare will not offer health insurance to people who buy their own insurance and are not on Medicare, says the firm's Jeff Heatherington. "It doesn't fit our business model," he said. The move is not based on the premium cut, he added. In fact, FamilyCare had hoped the state would cut the firm's rates, after seeing some of the lower rates requested by competitors in the individual market (Budnick, 6/27).

Boston Globe: Psychiatric Patients Neglected In Quincy
State inspectors found filthy conditions and patients left unattended on Quincy Medical Center’s psychiatric ward for seniors, prompting regulators to temporarily prohibit admissions to the unit last month while the hospital fired at least two managers. Inspectors made a surprise visit May 23, responding to concerns about the geriatric unit at the hospital, owned by Steward Health Care (Conaboy, 6/28).

Seattle Times: Mental-Health Program Shuts Down Operations In Normandy Park
A controversial, for-profit mental-health-treatment program is shutting down its operation in a suburb south of Seattle after struggling financially and failing to be licensed by the state. Hanbleceya informed its clients several weeks ago that they had until Sunday to find new living arrangements. The Seattle Times reported last July that the company had opened a clinic in Normandy Park Towne Center, bought three homes and rented two others in Normandy Park, then secretly placed mentally ill and drug-addicted clients in the homes with no state oversight (Willmsen, 6/27).

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Mercy Health Abandons Arkansas Hospital Deal
Facing stiff resistance from the Federal Trade Commission, the Vatican and community leaders, Mercy Health has abandoned its efforts to sell its hospital in Hot Springs, Ark., to a for-profit health system. The announcement, issued Thursday by Chesterfield-based Mercy Health and Franklin, Tenn.-based Capella Health Care Inc., comes after a lengthy FTC investigation and several months of talks with Catholic officials (Doyle, 6/28).

California Healthline: Pharmacists Can Be Part Of Health Reform
The No. 1 challenge for pharmacists, according to one expert, is inclusion in the health care reform discussion. … A bill in the state Legislature, SB 493 by Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina), would expand the scope of practice of pharmacists by allowing them to screen people for diabetes, for instance. Hernandez addressed yesterday's convention of the California Society of Health-System Pharmacists, but didn't mention his specific bill, which is currently stuck in committee (Gorn, 6/27).

California Healthline: Retail Clinic Growth Sparks New Partnership In San Diego
The growth of retail clinics is fostering new partnerships and in some cases new forms of cooperation rather than -- or in addition to -- competition. San Diego's Sharp HealthCare and MinuteClinic, the retail health care division of drug store chain CVS Caremark, have teamed up to expand primary care access around San Diego. The move is partly in anticipation of full implementation of the Affordable Care Act on Jan. 1, 2014 (Zamosky, 6/27).

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