KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Highlights: Suit Over Transgender Medicaid Coverage In N.Y.; Calif. Nursing Home Inspections

The Associated Press: New York Sued Over Transgender Medicaid Coverage 
A lawsuit filed Thursday against New York state seeks Medicaid coverage for transgender people seeking what they consider to be life-saving health treatments, including gender change procedures. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Manhattan against the state health commissioner, seeks class-action status on behalf of people seeking hormone therapy and sex reassignment surgery (Neumeister, 6/19).

Kaiser Health News: Review Finds Flawed Management Of Nursing Home Inspections In Los Angeles County
Los Angeles County public health staff repeatedly failed to follow state policies on nursing home inspections, leading to improper closure of cases and incomplete and delayed investigations, according to a report issued by the California Department of Public Health. After reviewing a sampling of 136 cases received since 2009, the state health department found that LA. County officials did not properly prioritize or track investigations. The county faces a backlog of hundreds of nursing home safety complaints (Gorman, 6/20).

Los Angeles Times: L.A. County's Olive View Hospital Settles Patient Dumping Case 
A Los Angeles County hospital in Sylmar has agreed to pay $40,750 to settle federal allegations of patient dumping. Attorneys with the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services alleged that Olive View-UCLA Medical Center failed to properly screen a patient to determine if he had an emergency medical condition (Sewell, 6/19).

The Texas Tribune/New York Times: Questions On Treatment Of Mentally Ill By State 
The sheriff of the state's largest county is peeved with the Texas Department of State Health Services, the agency that runs the state's mental health hospitals. The agency is not offering the care that it is required to provide, the Harris County sheriff, Adrian Garcia, said. Given proper treatment, the sheriff argues, some patients would not be committing the crimes of which they are accused. Instead, they end up in Harris County’s jails, where they are a health care and financial burden to the county. Sheriff Garcia has allies, and might even get some help (Ramsey, 6/19).

Stateline: Right-to-Try for The Terminally Ill
Withholding experimental drugs from the most gravely ill has fueled several states to pass so-called “right-to-try” legislation that would make these drugs available without Food and Drug Administration approval to terminally ill patients with no other options. Some critics of the years-long FDA drug approval process, with its requirement for multiple clinical trials, contend that it is much longer than it should be, thereby keeping some promising drugs from those who might benefit, particularly those, like Austin, with time running out. The Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development says it normally takes 5½ to 10½ years for a drug to receive FDA approval (Ollove, 6/19).

The CT Mirror: IRS, Hartford Police Conducting Criminal Investigation On Access Health Data Breach
The Internal Revenue Service and Hartford police are conducting a criminal investigation of the data breach involving information on clients of Connecticut’s health insurance exchange. But an exchange official said Thursday that the cause was most likely a mistake by a call center worker. The breach occurred two weeks ago after a worker at the exchange’s call center put notepads containing callers’ names, birth dates and Social Security numbers into a backpack and left the call center. The backpack was later discovered outside a Hartford deli, where the worker had been waiting for a ride. He told officials with Maximus, the company that runs the call center, that he’d accidentally left without the bag (Becker, 6/19).  

The Sacramento Bee: Sacramento Region Scrambles To Confront New 'Dental Care Crisis'
The last in a long line of Northern California hospitals abruptly announced last week it will discontinue dental surgery programs, igniting a scramble by community health leaders to solve what they termed yet another "dental care crisis" in Sacramento County. Sutter Medical Center is just the latest health system to shut down its dental surgery program over concern for the bottom line. Sutter’s decision leaves the region with no hospital willing to brave financial losses in order to serve such vulnerable patients as severely autistic adults who must undergo costly anesthesia to endure dental work (Craft, 6/19).

Texas Tribune: Report Shows Texas Lagging In Long-Term Care Quality 
Texas ranks third-worst in the nation on quality of long-term care for elderly and disabled people, according to a new AARP report released Thursday -- five days before a state commission convenes for a public hearing on the Department of Aging and Disability Services. The report scores states and the District of Columbia in five categories of services for elderly people and those with disabilities, and Texas' rankings are all over the board. The state ranks among the top 10 in the country for affordability and access. But it places 49th for quality of care and quality of life — a category including factors like staff turnover in nursing homes (Okun, 6/19).

Denver Post: Birth Control Issue Ignites In Colorado’s U.S. Senate Contest 
The battle over birth control in Colorado's U.S. Senate race exploded Thursday when Congressman Cory Gardner accused Democrats of not wanting to make contraceptives available over the counter. He unloaded on his opponent, U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, accusing him and Democratic leaders of using the issue as a "wedge to divide our state" rather then pushing to make the pill available at pharmacies. The left fired back, attacking Gardner's record as a state lawmaker and a two-term Republican congressman on women's issues (Bartels and Matthews, 6/20).

MinnPost: One Mother's Fraught Journey Through Minnesota’s Mental Health System 
Kathleen Bischel Beddow knew there was something wrong with her "beautiful boy" -- something that others would not or could not see. ... The Beddows’ son was 14 years old when he finally got a diagnosis of Asperger’s. (Now the family could understand his flat affect, his rigid behaviors, his agitation, his inexhaustible arguments, his seeming arrogance.) And he was 17 years old when he had brain surgery to remove all of his right temporal lobe, the focal point of his seizures and where a tumor was discovered postoperatively. After the surgery, though he no longer had seizures, his rage ramped up unabated (Williams, 6/19).

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