State Roundup: Fla. Groups Ask Gov. For Essential Benefits Hearings
A selection of health policy stories from Massachusetts, Florida, Ohio, Texas, Colorado and Washington state.
Medscape: Ban On Industry-Provided Meals To Docs Lifted In Massachusetts
In a reversal of a law passed 4 years ago, physicians in Massachusetts will now be allowed to accept "modest" meals and refreshments provided by pharmaceutical or medical device companies. When he approved the state budget, Gov. Deval Patrick last month repealed part of the Massachusetts Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Gift Ban and Disclosure Law that banned such meals to physicians and other health professionals. The meals for physicians must happen "in a venue and manner conducive to informational communication," essentially outside the physician's office, the new law says (Crane, 8/10).
Health News Florida: Groups Ask Scott To Hold Hearings On Health Benefits
A coalition of Affordable Care Act supporters is asking Gov. Rick Scott to hold hearings on the issue of which health benefits should be covered on all insurance policies to be offered as of 2014. The federal government allows each state to design the minimum-benefit package, called "Essential Health Benefits," as long as such items as preventive care, childbirth and hospitalization are included. In a letter released today, the groups say that if Florida continues to ignore the law, the federal government will determine which benefits citizens in the state will be able to choose when the coverage takes effect (8/10).
The Associated Press: Tea Party Evolves, Achieves State Policy Victories
Tea party activists in Georgia helped kill a proposed sales tax increase that would have raised billions of dollars for transportation projects. In Pennsylvania, tea partyers pushed to have taxpayers send public school children to private schools. In Ohio, they drove a referendum to block state health insurance mandates. Activists in Ohio forced the ballot initiative on health care by gathering more than 400,000 signatures and hiring consultants to get 100,000 more. Chris Littleton, a former tea party organizer, led the effort without the tea party label. The measure prevailed 2-to-1, he said, partly because the tea party name didn't drive debate (Barrow, 8/12).
The Texas Tribune: Looking To Mexico For Alternative To Abortion Clinics
In this Roman Catholic stronghold, where abortion is deeply stigmatized, reproductive health providers tell stories of women going to pharmacies across the border in Mexico, in search of a drug they hope will terminate unwanted pregnancies. But the providers say that the pharmacies, which are largely unregulated, often fail to give proper instructions for the drug, misoprostol, and that it does not always give the women the result they seek (8/12).
The Denver Post: Colorado CREATE Program Helps Health Care Students Fill Gap In Care
CREATE Health Scholars, part of an initiative funded by the Colorado Health Foundation, already has aided about 140 over the past three summers. It's not so much that there is a statewide shortage of health care professionals -- it's that a relatively small percentage of them practice in rural areas, said Amy Downs, senior director for policy and analysis for the Colorado Health Institute (Simpson, 8/12).
The Seattle Times: Cancer-Screening Program Reaches Out To Pacific Islander Women
Wearing a black T-shirt that reads, "I am on the clock: end breast cancer by Jan. 1, 2020," Fa'amaile Frost spends Monday afternoons at the Filipino Community Center in Seattle urging women to schedule regular mammograms and Pap smears. Frost, who works with International Community Health Services (ICHS), reaches out to Pacific Islander women -- often skeptical or unaware of the importance of these tests — at her physical-activity and diabetes-awareness classes, and in churches and community centers. If they agree, she refers them to free or low-cost providers. Frost is Samoan, and in sharing a similar cultural thread, she's able to gain the women's trust (Araya, 8/12).