KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Highlights: Va. Lt. Gov. Juggles Politics And Pediatrics

A selection of health policy news from Virginia, Maryland, Florida, New York, Wisconsin, Washington state, New Jersey and Kansas.

The Washington Post: Ralph Northam, Va.’s Low-Key Lieutenant Governor, Juggles Politics And Pediatrics
Ralph S. Northam read Noah’s electroencephalogram and sent the 7-year-old home from the hospital with a dose of powerful anti-seizure medication and instructions to return for more tests. Northam’s work as a doctor is a far cry from his other day job, presiding over the Virginia Senate, where he welcomes visitors to Mr. Jefferson’s Capitol and enforces the chamber’s arcane rules. Most Virginians don’t know that the lieutenant governor spends much of his time treating sick children as a pediatric neurologist. More to the point, most Virginians don’t know who the lieutenant governor is (Portnoy, 7/27).

The Baltimore Sun: Maryland Hospitals Aren’t Reporting All Errors and Complications, Experts Say
While hospitals are supposed to report serious medical errors to state regulators, the mostly confidential system still doesn't capture all of those happening in the Maryland facilities, patient safety experts and regulators acknowledge. Confusion over reporting rules and fear of legal or financial repercussions can thwart disclosure, they say. Details about even the most severe and deadly mistakes, called "adverse events," only become public if someone sues, or if regulators catch a hospital failing to report and launch an inquiry, the results of which are subject to open records laws (Cohn, 7/26).

Reuters: U.S. Appeals Court Backs Florida Law In Barring Docs From Asking Patients About Gun Ownership
A U.S. appeals court ruled on Friday in favor of a Florida law that bars doctors from asking patients about gun ownership, overturning a decision in the so-called "Docs v. Glocks" case by a lower court that had struck it down. Florida's Republican-led legislature passed the law after a north Florida couple complained that a doctor asked them if they had guns, and refused to see them after they declined to answer. A federal judge ruled the law unconstitutional in 2012, and the state swiftly appealed a panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 vote, vacated the federal judge's ruling and described the law as a "legitimate regulation" of professional conduct that simply codified good medical care. Any restrictions it places on physicians' speech was entirely incidental, the appeals court said, since it "was intended to protect patient privacy and curtail abuses of the physician-patient relationship" (7/25).

NPR: New York Debates Whether Housing Counts As Health Care
Brenda Rosen, the director of Common Ground, the organization that manages the building, says The Brook offers a full range of services to keep its residents healthy: social workers, security, a doctor and even an event planner. And while these services don't come without a cost -- an apartment at The Brook runs at about $24,000 a year -- Rosen says they are cheaper than the estimated $56,000 per year that the city spends on the emergency room visits, and stays at shelters and jails, where many people with severe mental illness end up (Aronczyk, 7/28).

The Associated Press: Relatives Run Health Clinic In Madison
Dr. Schenck received his doctorate in 1978 and finished his residency in 1981. He briefly latched on with a practice in Orange before coming to Culpeper to practice, where he was tasked with opening the Culpeper Nursing Home and Rehab. He also set up and ran his practice at the Wilderness Medical Center in Locust Grove from 1982 until 2002. A hospitalist at Culpeper Regional Hospital from 2002 until 2006, he and his wife Lisa -- his registered nurse -- both moved to the Madison practice in 2008 (7/27).

Seattle Times: Becker Slams Insurance Office Report's 'Selective Use Of Facts'
State Sen. Randi Becker, R-Eatonville and chair of the Senate Health Care committee, isn’t going to let go of Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler’s tangle with his administrative-law judge, who was placed on leave in May after accusing her supervisor at the insurance office of trying to influence her on insurance cases she adjudicates. Becker, who has been displeased with Kreidler’s office in the past, slammed the investigator’s “selective use of facts,” but said it was “no surprise” (Ostrom, 7/25).

Bloomberg: Christie Call To Cool Abortion Talk Follows Curbs In N.J. 
Chris Christie, who last week prodded Republicans to drop anti-abortion rhetoric to appeal to more voters, has steadily weakened access to the procedure in New Jersey. Even with a Democratic-controlled legislature committed to reproductive rights, the second-term governor’s annual funding cuts for women’s health services have prompted at least six clinics to close since 2010, according to lawmakers. Christie, a possible White House contender in 2016, told Republican leaders in Colorado on July 25 that they need to recast how they promote their views on social issues without altering their positions. The first New Jersey governor to publicly declare himself against abortion since the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling says he favored the right until he heard his unborn daughter’s heartbeat. Voters whose most important issue is abortion would “look at his record of action,” she said (Young, 7/28). 

The Associated Press: Kansas City Area Clinic to Offer HIV Drug
A Kansas City, Kansas, clinic is offering a medication used to prevent infection in people at high risk of getting the AIDS virus. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration two years ago approved the HIV drug, Truvada, for HIV prevention. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidelines in May recommending that doctors offer Truvada to people at substantial risk of HIV infection, such as those in a sexual relationship with someone who is HIV-positive, The Kansas City Star reported (7/26).

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