KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Highlights: Calif. Insurers, Lawmakers Fight Over Premium Disclosure

California Healthline: Insurers, Legislators Clash Over Premium Disclosure Bill
Despite opposition from insurers, the Assembly Committee on Health last week approved a bill designed to lower health insurance premiums by requiring plans to disclose more information about their rates. SB 746 by Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) would require insurers selling coverage to employers with 50 or more employees to provide more detailed information about how and why they raise health insurance rates. Leno said the bill was prompted by a recent dust-up between San Francisco unions and Kaiser Permanente. Union officials asked Kaiser for data and reasons for rate increases. Leno indicated he has not been satisfied with the insurer's response (Hart, 7/11).

Boston Globe: For-Profit Hospitals Put To Test In Mass.
The pending return of health care giant Tenet Healthcare Corp. to Massachusetts has the potential to shake up the state's hospitals and doctors networks, which are already rapidly consolidating. The for-profit system, which owns 49 hospitals in 11 states, will enter a marketplace much changed from the one it left in 2004, when the chain sold Saint Vincent Hospital in Worcester and the MetroWest Medical Center hospitals in Framingham and Natick to Vanguard Health Systems Inc. for $126.7 million (Weisman, 7/12).

CT Mirror: Malloy Sides With Unions, Vetoes Bill Key To Waterbury Hospital Deal
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy vetoed a bill Thursday that was opposed by health care unions seeking leverage in the proposed acquisition of financially struggling Waterbury Hospital by a major national for-profit company, Vanguard Health Systems of Tennessee. The veto of the bill, which would have given Vanguard the governance structure it says is necessary to operate in a state unfamilar with for-profit hospitals, cast uncertainty over the acquisition strongly supported by Waterbury Mayor Neil O'Leary as a means to retain a major employer (Pazniokas, 7/11).

Los Angeles Times: Probe Of California's Prison-Based Mental Health Facilities Ordered
Citing evidence of doctor shortages, treatment delays and "denial of basic necessities, including clean underwear," a federal judge on Thursday ordered an in-depth probe of conditions at prison-based mental health facilities run by the California Department of State Hospitals. U.S. District Judge Lawrence K. Karlton has been overseeing mandated improvements of care for mentally ill prisoners throughout California, treatment that the courts 18 years ago deemed so substandard as to be unconstitutional (Romney and St. John, 7/12).

Detroit Free Press: Kevyn Orr Floats Plan To End Health Care For Early Police, Fire Retirees
Representatives of city unions and pensioners met Thursday with members of emergency manager Kevyn Orr's restructuring team to begin talks on drastic changes to health care for current and retired workers. One proposal floated was the elimination of health care coverage for some firefighters and police officers who retire early (Helms, 7/11).

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: State Supreme Court Says Surrogate Birth Contract Enforceable
For the first time in Wisconsin, the Supreme Court found Thursday that a woman's agreement to give birth to a baby for a man and his wife is an enforceable contract, except for a provision that would terminate the birth mother's parental rights. The ruling could ease the process of surrogate births in Wisconsin, though it doesn't mean the Menomonee Falls parents of the child in this case will be able to deny some role for the birth mother, formerly a close friend of the couple. But the court recognizes its limits in addressing the sometimes challenging and confounding questions at issue: "We respectfully urge the Legislature to consider enacting legislation regarding surrogacy," the decision reads (Vielmetti, 7/12).

Oregonian: Oregonians Pay On Average 10 Times More For Top-Selling Brand Name Drugs
Oregonians have paid on average 10 times more for top-selling prescription drugs because of deals between drug manufacturers to delay production of generics. The 20 top prescription drugs that paid off their rivals to keep generics off the market resulted in average delays of five years that left patients paying up to 33 times as much for brand names, according to a report released Thursday from the Oregon State Public Interest Group and Community Catalyst. The drugs listed include some common prescriptions: Lipitor, Tamoxifen and Cipro (Karlamangla, 7/11).

The Lund Report: Global Budget Could Mitigate 'Perverse Incentive' For Child Abuse Intervention
Visits to the Children's Center in Oregon City usually start with a call to the child abuse hot line -- and end with the gift of a quilt and a teddy bear. If the Department of Human Services or a law enforcement officer determines after follow-up that a child should be seen, the child, along with a parent or other caregiver, visits the center, which is one of 21 like it in the state (McCurdy, 7/11).

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