State Highlights: Report: Hospitals Ill-Prepared For Sandy; Iowa Supreme Court Lets Teleabortion Go On While It Decides
A selection of health policy stories from New Jersey, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Illinois, California and Wisconsin.
The Associated Press: Hospitals Struggled During Sandy, Report Says
When Superstorm Sandy slammed into the Northeast nearly two years ago, hospitals found themselves dealing with surges in patients, lost power supplies and employees who couldn’t get to work -- problems that a new federal report finds they were not prepared to handle (Mulvihill, 9/17).
Des Moines Register: Iowa Supreme Court Allows Telemed-Abortion System To Continue
The Iowa Supreme Court decided Tuesday to let Planned Parenthood of the Heartland continue using its controversial video-conferencing method for dispensing abortion pills -- for the time being. The justices granted a last-minute stay of the Iowa Board of Medicine's 2013 decision to effectively ban use of the system. ... Planned Parenthood is appealing a Polk County district judge's ruling that would effectively shut down the system, which is the first of its kind in the nation (Leys, 9/16).
Kansas Health Institute News Service: Kansas Insurance Commissioner Favors Democrat To Succeed Her
The trend of Kansas Republicans crossing party lines to support Democrats running against GOP conservatives now has reached the insurance commissioner’s race. Republican incumbent Sandy Praeger, who’s not running for re-election after three terms, endorsed Democrat Dennis Anderson on Tuesday at a campaign event staged at Brewster Place, a Topeka retirement community. Praeger, a moderate Republican who bucked the party line in supporting the federal health reform law, is among more than 100 current and former GOP office holders who have endorsed Paul Davis, the Democrat challenging Republican Gov. Sam Brownback (McLean, 9/16).
The Associated Press: Doctor Pleads Guilty To Cancer Treatment Fraud
A Detroit-area cancer doctor accused of putting people through unnecessary treatments and then billing insurers for millions of dollars pleaded guilty to fraud Tuesday, admitting that he knew his patients often didn’t need chemotherapy (White, 9/16).
Chicago Sun-Times: Emanuel Defends 40-percent Hike In City Retiree Health Premiums
Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday defended his decision to save $27 million in 2015 by raising monthly health-insurance premiums by an average of 40 percent for 25,000 city retirees -- even after a precedent-setting Illinois Supreme Court ruling that could tip the scales against the city. But what about the Illinois Supreme Court ruling in July that could signal defeat in a similar case filed by city retirees? The state’s highest court ruled then that subsidized health care premiums for state employees are protected under the Illinois Constitution and that the General Assembly was "precluded from diminishing or impairing” that benefit (Spielman, 9/16).
Sacramento Bee: Most Californians Lack Knowledge About Plans’ Mental Health Benefits
Less than 40 percent of Californians realize that health insurance plans generally cover mental health treatment as well as other types of medical care, according to a new Field Poll that found a lack of knowledge about mental health assistance and varying levels of willingness to seek it. Conducted on behalf of the nonprofit California HealthCare Foundation, the poll found that more than eight in 10 Californians believe that treatment can help people with mental illnesses lead productive and healthy lives. But only 38 percent of people realize that the federal Affordable Care Act generally requires most health insurance to include mental health, alcohol and drug treatment benefits. And almost one in five Californians say they wouldn’t use such services even if they were covered by insurance (Miller, 9/17).
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: Report Warns Against Cutting More Acute Care Beds At Mental Health Complex
Milwaukee County should not eliminate any more beds for its acutely ill at the Mental Health Complex until more community support is established, according to a report released Tuesday. The current capacity of 60 is necessary to meet the demands of severely ill patients — many of them poor and without private health insurance, said authors of the report commissioned by the county's Behavioral Health Division. The system is at "a tipping point," the authors wrote. The study, conducted by Boston-based consultants in tandem with the Public Policy Forum, comes as Milwaukee County is considering what to do with its public psychiatric complex on W. Watertown Plank Road in Wauwatosa (Kissinger, 9/16).