State Highlights: Mental Health Issues Put 34K On N.Y. No-Guns List
A selection of health policy stories from New York, Ohio, California, Tennessee, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina and Maryland.
The New York Times: Mental Health Issues Put 34,500 On New York’s No-Guns List
A newly created database of New Yorkers deemed too mentally unstable to carry firearms has grown to roughly 34,500 names, a previously undisclosed figure that has raised concerns among some mental health advocates that too many people have been categorized as dangerous. The database, established in the aftermath of the mass shooting in 2012 at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., and maintained by the state Division of Criminal Justice Services, is the result of the Safe Act. ... The law, better known for its ban on assault weapons, compels licensed mental health professionals in New York to report to the authorities any patient “likely to engage in conduct that would result in serious harm to self or others" (Hartocollis, 10/19).
Chillicothe Gazatte/USA Today: Medicare Patients Pay More At Rural Hospitals
ECGs and nine other frequently provided outpatient services cost from two to six times more for Medicare patients at the nation's rural, critical access hospitals compared to other hospitals, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Inspector General (Balmert, 10/20).
The New York Times: Doctor’s Letter Spells End of Job For Pregnant Employee
This month marks the first anniversary of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which was signed into law by former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg on Oct. 2, 2013. The law, which went into effect in January, represents a big step forward for working women. It requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers -- such as providing rest and water breaks, modified work schedules and light duty -- so long as the accommodations don’t cause undue hardship for the employer. Makes sense, right? It’s actually critical, particularly for low-income women who sometimes get pushed out of their jobs -- and into poverty -- when they become pregnant (Swarns, 10/17).
San Jose Mercury News: New Anti-Prop. 45 TV Ad Misleads Viewers
Proposition 45 would allow California's elected insurance commissioner to regulate health plan rates for 6 million Californians with individual policies or who get their insurance as employees of small businesses. The No on 45 campaign recently released a 30-second television ad, now running in major media markets (Seipel, 10/19).
The Tennessean: Children Left In TennCare Lurch
When Tennessee abdicated responsibility for Medicaid applications to the federal government, foster children got locked out. Adoption agencies had no way to seek coverage after TennCare made state residents apply through healthcare.gov, a website designed for families to shop for health insurance. The website has no computer equivalent to the state social workers once tasked with making sure children didn't go without medical coverage (Wilemon, 10/20).
Kansas Health Institute News Service: Advocates Ready Another Push For Mid-level Dental Providers
Advocates of licensure for mid-level dental providers have been stymied in Kansas for five years. They say the need for dental care remains high, especially in the state's rural areas, and they're pushing for legislative movement next session. Members of the Kansas Dental Project coalition met this week in Topeka to discuss the issue and hear from Steve Coen, president and chief executive officer of the Kansas Health Foundation, and Brenda Sharpe, president and CEO of the REACH Healthcare Foundation. Both groups are part of the Kansas Dental Project (Marso, 10/17).
Bloomberg: Purdue Says Kentucky Suit Over OxyContin Could Be Painful
Purdue, which makes the best-selling painkiller OxyContin, has never gone to trial on a case of OxyContin abuse. It has won dismissals in more than 400 personal-injury lawsuits related to the drug. And while it has settled some product-liability cases related to OxyContin under secret terms, Purdue has defeated more than 10 efforts to wage class-actions against it. In this remote county courthouse in southeast Kentucky, the company faces a potential legal reckoning that its own chief financial officer called “crippling.” Purdue has already lost initial procedural decisions that may force it to go to trial with its “arms tied behind its back,” the company said in pretrial arguments (Armstrong, 10/20).
The Associated Press: Democrat Slams Plan Giving State Medicare Control
Democrat Dennis Anderson Friday criticized an interstate health care compact that would give Kansas control of Medicare within its borders, while his Republican opponent Ken Selzer backed the idea as a way to get the program out of the federal government during a face-to-face encounter in the race for state insurance commissioner. The compact measure passed by the Kansas Legislature and signed by Gov. Sam Brownback in April would allow member states to set their own health care policies while retaining federal health care dollars and give participating states the ability to exempt themselves from other federal rules in addition to the health overhaul's regulations. It hinges, however, on congressional approval, and for that to happen, Republicans would need to gain control of the U.S. Senate in November (Hegeman, 10/17).
Charlotte Observer: Charlotte ER Case Shows Challenges Of Patient Satisfaction
Miserable and desperate, Denise Schafer sought help at the Carolinas Medical Center-Pineville emergency room one Saturday in June. Four days earlier, she had swallowed something that seemed to have sharp edges and lodged in her throat. Doctors at the Pineville hospital eventually found, and removed, the cause of Schafer’s pain. But it was only after a long, frustrating day in the ER and the serendipitous appearance of a ham sandwich. Schafer and Lenore Foote, a friend who drove her to the ER, later complained to hospital officials – and then to the Observer – about their experience. … As the American health care system undergoes massive change, hospital systems across the country have begun talking more about “patient-centered care.” In the Charlotte area, Carolinas HealthCare System and Novant Health tout their scores on patient satisfaction surveys. And they’ve created jobs with titles such as “patient experience officer” (Garloch, 10/18).
Baltimore Sun: State Proposes Reforms To Group Home Oversight
Maryland's top health official announced Sunday that his agency is reforming the way the state regulates group homes for disabled foster children. In a report sent Sunday to Maryland lawmakers and The Baltimore Sun, the state health department identified five steps it is taking to improve coordination among the multiple agencies that supervise group homes, increase scrutiny of contractors' finances and appoint an employee to implement and oversee the enhancements. The announcement follows investigations by The Sun that detailed significant problems with the state's two largest contractors for such care, including reports of abuse and management issues. Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, Maryland's health secretary, also announced the formation of a task force that has been charged with recommending more improvements by January for services to all disabled adults (Donovan, 10/19).
Baltimore Sun: Shuttered Health Clinics Plan Relaunch
Founded in 1970 to treat people in Baltimore who are uninsured and underinsured, People's closed five clinics at the end of June as debts piled up, including more than $900,000 owed to the IRS. The clinics' $2.4 million annual federal grant — which helped pay the cost for treating uninsured patients — was suspended, and Anne Arundel County's government yanked a grant that was intended for a planned clinic in Severn. Now People's Community Health Centers has formally changed its corporate name to MedHealth of Maryland (Wood, 10/18).