KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Highlights: Minn. Improves Hospital Safety

A selection of health policy news from Minnesota, Georgia, Kansas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Iowa and Virginia.

Pioneer Press: Minnesota: Hospitals Make Some Gains Reducing ‘Adverse Events’
State officials and hospital leaders in Minnesota are claiming success in a 10-year effort to reduce bed sores, medication errors and more than two dozen other adverse events that can harm patients as they're being treated in medical centers. The number of deaths and disabilities that can be linked to the adverse events -- which include everything from burns and device malfunctions to operations on the wrong body part -- continue to trend downward, according to reports being released Thursday by the Minnesota Department of Health (Snowbeck, 1/23).

Minnesota Public Radio: Patient Hospital Safety Improves, But Falls Remain A Problem
The number of deaths and harmful events linked to preventable hospital errors has largely declined in the past decade, according to a new report from the Minnesota Department of Health. Department officials, who have tracked so-called "adverse health events" since 2003, called the trend encouraging. Still, the pace of progress has been slower than many health care leaders would like (Benson, 1/23).

The Star Tribune: Hospitals Report Fewer Preventable Mistakes
Efforts to eliminate preventable hospital errors in Minnesota have taken on the appearance of the old arcade game Whac-A-Mole. Just as the state’s hospitals reduce deaths or disabilities attributed to one type of mistake, another pops up. In the latest adverse-event report, released Thursday, Minnesota’s hospitals showed substantial progress in reducing the number of painful and disabling pressure ulcers that patients suffer because of immobility in hospital beds. They also reduced the number of surgical errors such as procedures on the wrong body part. But increases in patient deaths or disabilities because of falls or medication errors countered the progress in other areas (Olson, 1/23).

The Associated Press: Pennsylvania Gets 2015 Extension On CHIP-to-Medicaid Switch
About 30,000 low-income families whose kids are covered by Pennsylvania’s health insurance program for children have until 2015 to switch them to Medicaid, Gov. Tom Corbett’s administration said Wednesday. The deadline for states had been 2014, but Corbett’s office said the extra time for Pennsylvania families to switch their children from the Children’s Health Insurance Program was allowed by the federal government (Levy, 1/22).

The Associated Press: Defending Kansas Abortion Laws Top $1M
Kansas has paid private law firms slightly more than $1 million to defend anti-abortion laws enacted during the past three years, the attorney general's office confirmed Wednesday. Kansas has enacted a raft of new restrictions since Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, a strong abortion opponent, took office in January 2011. Abortion providers have responded with multiple federal and state lawsuits (Hanna, 1/22).

The Associated Press: Ohio Dems’ 2014 Ticket To Highlight Women’s Health
Ohio Democrats seeking statewide office this fall on Wednesday coupled criticism of Republican-backed abortion restrictions with a pledge to make women's health issues a priority in the 2014 campaign. The party's full 2014 slate appeared together for the first time to accept endorsements from Planned Parenthood (Smyth, 1/22).

Georgia Health News: Rise Of The ACO: Emory, Blue Cross Team Up 
A partnership of health care heavyweights was created Wednesday as Emory Healthcare and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia announced a collaboration to improve quality and contain costs. The two entities will form an “accountable care organization” that will seek to enhance the care experienced by patients in the Atlanta region. ACOs are networks of hospitals and doctors -- and sometimes insurers -- that arose as a central feature of the federal health reform law of 2010, also known as the Affordable Care Act (Miller, 1/22).

The Baltimore Sun: Health Disparities Costing Black, Hispanic Men, Study Says
Black and Hispanic men are shouldering more medical costs because of health inequalities and they, their families and society are suffering from the burden, according to a new study from Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health. Health disparities among African American men and Hispanic men cost the economy more than $450 billion between 2006 and 2009, the study found. Black men incurred about three quarters of the costs (1/22).

Des Moines Register: Wellmark Adds Physicians Groups To Cost-Effective Care Pacts
Iowa’s largest health insurer has started signing up large doctors groups to a new kind of contract that will reward them for providing cost-effective care. Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield has signed Accountable Care Organization contracts this month with the Iowa Clinic, based in West Des Moines, the McFarland Clinic of Ames and Family Health Care of Siouxland, based in the Sioux City area (Leys, 1/22).

The Richmond Times-Dispatch: Mental-Health Proposal Would Allow 24-Hour Detention For Evaluation
Legislation to allow people to be held involuntarily for up to 24 hours for emergency psychiatric evaluation is on its way to a Senate committee over the objections of Virginia sheriffs. The legislation, sponsored by Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, D-Bath, also would mandate creation of a Web-based psychiatric bed registry and require the state to intervene if local emergency workers are unable to find appropriate beds for people who pose a danger to themselves or others. A Senate Education and Health subcommittee voted 3-2 on Wednesday to endorse the measure, which incorporates legislation sponsored by four other senators to improve the state’s system of responding to mental health crises (Martz, 1/23).

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