State Highlights: Kaiser Permanente Agrees To $4 Million Fine
A selection of health policy stories from New York, California, the District of Columbia, North Carolina and Georgia.
The New York Times: At Surgery Clinic, Rush To Save Joan Rivers’s Life
Since the comedian’s death on Thursday, much has been said about her outspoken, madcap life, but there has been very little discussion of what exactly happened in the medical office where she lost consciousness, or the drama of the all-hands-on-deck attempt to save her life. The death is being investigated by the State Health Department and the city’s medical examiner. Her treatment at the clinic, Yorkville Endoscopy, a for-profit center, has drawn attention to a flourishing model of medical treatment, outpatient surgery centers, which have been licensed by the state to replace hospital operating rooms for minor procedures (Hartocollis and Goodman, 9/9).
Sacramento Bee: Kaiser To Pay $4 Million Fine Over Access To Mental Health Services
Health care giant Kaiser Permanente has agreed to pay a $4 million fine to California’s overseer of managed health care following an 18-month battle with state officials over whether Kaiser blocked patients from timely access to mental health services. The development came as a surprise to Kaiser mental health clinicians and others who were prepared to testify this week in an appeals hearing for Kaiser’s challenge to the state Department of Managed Health Care and the fault it found in Kaiser’s provision of mental health care services. Among the problems identified in a March 2013 report by the department were long waitlists to see a mental health professional, duplicate sets of records with contradictory information about how long patients had to wait for an appointment and “inaccurate educational materials” for patients discouraging them from seeking medically necessary care (Craft, 9/9). (Neither the Kaiser Family Foundation nor Kaiser Health News is affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.)
The Washington Post: David Catania’s Aggressive Approach To D.C. Health Care Hints At Potential Mayoral Style
These days, the big issue is education, but Catania (I-At Large) burnished his reputation over the past decade in a different realm: as chairman of the council’s Health Committee. During numerous battles in that post, he earned criticism as a micromanager and a hothead more interested in satisfying his own ego than moving the city forward. But he also spearheaded a number of initiatives that left a measurable impact on the District, including insurance coverage and HIV/AIDS care (DeBonis, 9/9).
The Associated Press: Chiropractor Pleads Guilty To Health Care Fraud
A chiropractor who practiced in southeast Washington has pleaded guilty to signing fake prescriptions for services to be provided by D.C. Medicaid in exchange for cash (9/9).
Denver Post: Coalition For Homeless Opens New Health Care Facility In Denver
Denver's homeless can now get treated for vision and dental problems, as well as physical and mental maladies, at a new one-stop health care facility that is believed to be the only one of its kind in the country. The Stout Street Health Center, built and operated by the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, provides a level of integrated care to the homeless that is unique, said John Parvensky, coalition president. A physician who sees a patient with mental issues or other problems that require attention can get that person help right away at the center at 2130 Stout St. Mental and physical health care, substance-abuse treatment services, dental and vision care, a pharmacy, and social services are all available at the five-story building. The top three floors are lined with apartments for 78 formerly homeless households (McGhee, 9/9).
Charlotte Observer: Carolinas HealthCare Looks To Cut $110M In 2015 Budget
Carolinas HealthCare System has eliminated more than 100 management positions -- including two jobs that paid a total of $110 million in expenses from next year’s budget, hospital officials announced Tuesday. Cutbacks are necessary, in part, because of federal and state budget cuts in Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement for seniors, low-income and disabled patients, CEO Michael Tarwater said. That includes refusal by North Carolina and South Carolina lawmakers to expand Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act (Garloch, 9/9).
Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Georgia Regents OK Higher Health Care Costs For University Workers
Members of the University System of Georgia’s health insurance plans will likely see some of the highest cost increases ever next year as the system moves to control the climbing cost of health care (Davis, 9/10).
Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Rate Hike To Benefit Nursing Home Operations
Georgia’s politically connected nursing home industry stands to gain an extra $26 million a year in taxpayer funding from an obscure rate change approved by lawmakers, although many of those same lawmakers now say they don’t remember how it got into the state budget (Salzer, 9/9).