KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Highlights: Conn. Patients To Get ‘Facility Fee’ Notice

A selection of health policy stories from California, Connecticut, Missouri, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Texas, Kansas and Michigan.

Los Angeles Times: L.A.County Board Said Unaware Of U.S. Focus On Mentally Ill Inmates
Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said board members and their staffs were not privy to communications sent by the U.S. Justice Department to Sheriff's Department and county mental health officials regarding ongoing problems until September. That's when county officials received a letter announcing a federal civil-rights investigation of the jail system (Sewell, 6/10).

Los Angeles Times: San Quentin Plans Psychiatric Hospital For Death Row Inmates
The court-appointed monitor of mental health care in California's prison system reported to judges Tuesday that about three dozen men on death row are so mentally ill that they require inpatient care, with 24-hour nursing. For now, they are being treated in their cells, but the state plans to have a hospital setting ready for them by November, according to documents filed Tuesday in federal court (St. John, 6/10). 

The CT Mirror: Patients Will Get Notices About 'Facility Fees' Starting In October
Starting in October, patients will receive advance notification if they will face extra charges for getting outpatient care at hospital-owned facilities, under a bill Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed into law. Medical practices owned by hospitals can charge patients facility fees, which are separate from doctor bills. Many patients who received them have said they didn’t know they would be charged the fees, which can amount to hundreds or thousands of dollars. Hospitals say the fees reflect the higher costs and standards that hospital-based practices face. The new law doesn’t stop hospitals from charging facility fees (Becker, 6/10).

The Associated Press: California Hispanics Worry About Long-term Care
When it comes to planning for old age, Hispanics in California worry much more than whites about their ability to pay for care they may need and the prospect that they will be left alone without family and friends. Yet, Hispanics are also more reticent to discuss plans for long-term care with their families, a new poll indicated. Fewer than one in five California Hispanics have discussed with a loved one the type of living assistance they would want, compared with nearly half of whites, according to the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll (Freking and Hamilton, 6/10).

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Health Care Hiring Hits Lull In St. Louis 
For years, stories about the St. Louis job market always mentioned the steady hiring in health care. The medical sector has grown by more than 25 percent over the past decade, and at times during the recession of 2008 and 2009 it was just about the only part of the local economy that was expanding. Sometime last year, though, the hiring stopped. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the St. Louis area’s health care industry employed 2,700 fewer people in April 2014 than it did a year earlier. The year-over-year comparison has been negative for every month since October (Nicklaus, 6/10).

Modern Healthcare:  Some States Begin Implementing ACA’s Medicaid Stop-Smoking Provisions 
North Carolina has become the latest state to formally implement a provision of the health care reform law requiring state Medicaid programs to cover drugs used for smoking cessation both in their traditional and managed-care programs. A number of states still haven't formally adopted the provision in their state Medicaid plans. But Medicaid officials in most states say they support the coverage provision and were already covering the drugs (Dickson, 6/10).

Kaiser Health News: Mass. Inches Toward Health Insurance For All
When Massachusetts passed its landmark health coverage law under Gov. Mitt Romney in 2006, no one claimed the state would get to zero, as in 0 percent of residents who are uninsured. But numbers out this week suggest Massachusetts is very close (Bebinger, 6/10).

Texas Tribune: 2 Abortion Docs Settle Suit Over Revoked Privileges
Two Texas abortion doctors who filed a lawsuit against a Dallas hospital after losing their admitting privileges have settled their case with the hospital, which will reinstate their privileges. In April, Lamar Robinson, owner of Abortion Advantage, and Jasbir Ahluwalia, the medical director of Routh Street Women’s Clinic, said they received letters from University General Hospital in Dallas revoking their admitting privileges at the hospital after anti-abortion protesters targeted the hospital. In the settlement, University General Hospital was “restrained from directly or indirectly” revoking the doctors’ admitting privileges because of their “willingness to participate in an abortion procedure” at another facility (Aaronson and Ura, 6/10).

Kansas Health Institute News Service:  Kansas Prepares For New Federal Assisted Living And Nursing Home Rules 
Providers of home- and community-based (HCBS) Medicaid services and their state overseers are preparing for a raft of new federal rules that are intended to assure that the people who receive the services have more say in how they are helped and that their living conditions are “non-institutional.” The regulations could have major consequences for many beneficiaries and the businesses and organizations that help them, particularly for some senior care providers who operate assisted living facilities attached to or in near proximity to nursing homes (Shields, 6/10).

Detroit Free Press:  State’s Health Budget Trims Funding For Infant Mortality
Harper and Hutzel hospitals lost out on $6.5 million in state money to help fund their infant mortality and high-risk pregnancy programs in Detroit, when the Department of Community Health budget was approved by a conference committee today without the funding. In addition, the Department of Human Services saw $287.6 million in cuts to the money it’s spending on public assistance for poor Michiganders as the economy recovers and more people reach the 48-month limit for benefits and are kicked off welfare rolls (Gray and Erb, 6/10).

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