KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Highlights: 700 Nurses Needed In Calif. County; Nursing Home Funding In Maine

A selection of health policy stories from California, Missouri, Maine, Michigan, North Carolina, Texas and Georgia.

Los Angeles Times: Official Says County Health System Needs 700 New Nurses To Boost Care
Los Angeles County health officials said Wednesday that they need to hire more than 700 new nurses to shore up and sustain the county's medical system in the new Obamacare world. The Department of Health Services presented a report to the Board of Supervisors on a hiring plan that was included in the county's proposed budget released last month (Karlamangla, 5/14).

Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader/USA Today: Mo. Lawmakers Pass 3-Day Abortion Wait Period
Missouri could become only the third state requiring women to wait 72 hours to have an abortion under legislation passed Wednesday night. Following a tense debate, the state House voted 111-39 to send House Bill 1307 the abortion measure to Gov. Jay Nixon. Lawmakers ensured the passage of the legislation earlier this week when Senate Democrats cut a deal with Republicans to stop filibustering the bill in exchange for stopping other controversial bills (Shormanb, 5/15). 

The Associated Press:  Maine Gov. Says Nursing Home Funding Need Critical
Maine Gov. Paul LePage said Wednesday that the state's nursing homes are at risk because of the Legislature's failure to fully fund them and pledged to find the money to ensure that they won't be forced to close their doors. Lawmakers adjourned earlier this month, but the debate over the nursing home funding goes on, with LePage threatening to haul the Democratic-led Legislature back for a special session to resolve the issue (5/14).

Los Angeles Times: Study Of California Hospitals Shows A Third Of Patients Have Diabetes
The disproportionate numbers of diabetic patients -- overall, only 11.6 percent of Californians in that age group have diabetes -- have resulted in significant added hospital expenses, study authors said. The average cost of hospitalization for a person with diabetes was about $2,200 more than that for a person without the disorder, said study lead author Ying-Ying Meng, a researcher at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research (Brown, 5/15).

The Detroit Free Press:  Seven Metro Detroit Providers Charged In National Take Takedown On Medicare Fraud 
Medicare fraud continues to run rampant in metro Detroit, where seven defendants were charged Tuesday in a nationwide takedown of health care schemes -- joining dozens of others who have been indicted in recent years for scamming the government out of millions of dollars for bogus medical claims. Among those is Oakland County patient recruiter Richard Shannon, 41, who was sentenced Tuesday to seven-plus years in prison for his role in a nearly $14.5-million Medicare fraud scheme. His crimes included recruiting poor Medicare beneficiaries from housing projects and soup kitchens, obtaining their patient information in exchange for cash and promises of pain pills prescribed by doctors who were also part of the scheme. Shannon, who was convicted in a jury trial, also paid Medicare beneficiaries to sign blank documents for physical therapy services that were never provided or medically unnecessary (Baldas, 5/14).

North Carolina Health News:  McCrory’s Health Care Budget Contains Many Health Trims, Small Additions
On the same day lawmakers at the General Assembly started their work for the short legislative session, Gov. Pat McCrory presented his budget adjustments for the 2014-15 fiscal year. In a plan that McCrory said covers the Medicaid shortfall while also giving raises to teachers and state employees, the governor proposed a total budget outlay of $20.9 billion for the coming year; $5.01 billion of that covers funding for the Department of Health and Human Services. But though the plan covers the entire cost of the state’s Medicaid outlay, has a $168 million surplus and adds $50 million to a reserve fund, it teases more revenue out of hospitals, asks mental health managed care organizations to send money back to the state and moves money to create more slots for 4-year-olds to enter the Pre-K program (Hoban, 5/15).

North Carolina Health News: Naloxone ‘Saves’ Help Drop Rate Of Overdose Deaths In N.C. 
Advocates of the harm-reduction approach to drug abuse say that since a law went into effect last year, dozens of lives have been saved by administration of the opiate antidote naloxone (Hoban, 5/14).

The Houston Chronicle: Women’s Health Main Theme Of Wendy Davis Campaign Stop
The Democratic nominees for governor and lieutenant governor -- state Sens. Wendy Davis and Leticia Van de Putte -- appeared together in Houston Tuesday at a sold out Annie’s List luncheon, where both women delivered keynote speeches and painted their Republican political opponents as good, old boys who have championed policies harmful to women and minorities. “It’s clear from the Republicans’ War on Women that they feel entitled to speak for women, but they don’t even bother to listen to us in the first place,” Van de Putte told a Galleria hotel ballroom packed with more than 800 attendees, mostly women. ... The San Antonio Democrat bashed her likely opponent this November, state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, for authoring a bill – now law – requiring women to get ultrasounds before having an abortion (Collier, 5/13).

Georgia Health News: ACA Likely To Dominate Race For Insurance Post
With crowded, high-profile contests for a U.S. Senate seat and the governorship, most Georgia voters are not focused on who’s running for the state insurance commissioner post. The party primaries are May 20, but early in-person voting began on April 28. Once the nominees are chosen, the insurance commissioner race is expected to attract more voter interest. The general election is set for Nov. 4 (Stafford, 5/14).

The San Francisco Chronicle: Campos Tries Again To Plug Loophole In S.F. Health Care Law
As San Francisco Supervisor David Campos tries yet again to close a loophole in the city's universal health care ordinance that has allowed employers to take back tens of millions of dollars earmarked for workers' health care, he will point to residents such as Brent Sanchez. Sanchez, a 38-year-old Tenderloin resident, works more than 40 hours a week bartending and serving food at Tacolicious and Daniel Patterson Group restaurants. The companies he works for -- and by extension, the customers he serves -- are all paying into a fund that is supposed to help him get medical care when he needs it. But Sanchez said he's never touched that money, because it's never been enough to help him buy full health insurance (Lagos, 5/14).

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