KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Roundup: Medical Malpractice Ideas Part Of Mass. Cost Control Law

A selection of health policy stories from Massachusetts, California, Oregon, Missouri, Minnesota and Michigan.

WBUR: Doctors, Lawyers Work Together On Med-Mal Reform
It may not seem like big news, but if you've followed the long-running, stubborn and mostly dug-in debate over reforming medical malpractice in the U.S., you know that when doctors and lawyers issue a joint news release, something is really going on. ... Formally, it's called "Disclosure, Apology and Offer" and it's a key provision of the new state health cost law. Massachusetts doctors and lawyers have agreed to work side by side on this less hostile (and potentially cost-saving) approach to dealing with medical errors and malpractice. It essentially boils down to disclosing mistakes, apologizing to the patient and family when appropriate and offering compensation as a way to avoid litigation when possible (Zimmerman, 8/7).

California Healthline: California's LIHP A Big Success
The Low Income Health Program, launched 20 months ago, already has more than 400,000 Californians signed up. Health care experts gathered in Sacramento yesterday to discuss one of the successes in California's health reform effort. … Only five states have formed a "Bridge to Reform" program like LIHP and none of them on the scale of California's effort, according to Diana Dooley, secretary of California's Health and Human Services Agency (Gorn, 8/8).

HealthyCal: Agency Offers In-Home, Palliative Care To Children
While there are many agencies that provide in-home help for adults with temporary, chronic and terminal illnesses, Margy Mayfield saw a gap in those services for children on the Central Coast. In the seven years since Coastal Kids Home Care was founded in Salinas, Mayfield said she still sees a too few services for children. … She and a partner decided to start Coastal Kids to dedicate themselves to offering all the services children might need at home, from helping new parents with complications from a premature birth to children requiring palliative care for a terminal illness. …They serve 500 to 600 families annually and make about 4,500 patient visits (Flores, 8/7).

The Oregonian: One In Three Oregon Third-Graders Have Tooth Decay
According to the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, one in three third-grade students in Oregon have untreated tooth decay. ... At Oregon Health Authority, health unit manager Shanie Mason said many factors contribute to Oregon's high rate of tooth decay among children. "We don't prioritize it as an issue. There are a lot of dental issues in the state," Mason said. "It becomes a silent epidemic" (Ortiz, 8/7).

St. Louis Beacon: Group Wants Elderly To Talk About End-Of-Life Medical Care While Still Healthy
John G. Carney thinks it's time for Missourians to have more conversations about two issues they'd probably rather not discuss -- death and dying. He's president and CEO of Kansas City's Center for Practical Bioethics, which is running a pilot program in which the elderly spell out in more detail the kinds of medical interventions they want or don't want once they are seriously ill or near death (Joiner, 8/7).

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Blue Cross: Fighting Obesity Is Just A Walk In The Parking Lot
So you always thought the best parking spot was in the front row? Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota wants you to move back. Way back. The state's largest health insurer is taking over a handful of outlier parking spaces at shopping malls across Minnesota this month to encourage people to sneak in a few extra footsteps on the way inside (Crosby, 8/7).

Detroit Free Press: Same-Sex Couples Testify Against End Of Health Care Benefits
Kalamazoo resident Barbara Jean Ramber says she fears losing two things: her health care benefits and her eyesight. A new Michigan law could cost her both, Ramber testified Tuesday in U.S. District Court. She was among more than 60 people packed into Judge David Lawson's courtroom for arguments in a lawsuit filed on behalf of schoolteachers, city and county workers and their domestic partners who will lose their health insurance as a result of a new law prohibiting certain public employers from offering health care benefits to unmarried couples, including same-sex couples (Baldas, 8/8).

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