KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Texas Grapples With Medical Malpractice Reform While Illinois Addresses Employer Health Care Costs

Texas Tribune: "As a federal judge considers the constitutionality of Texas' 2003 medical malpractice reform - and Gov. Rick Perry campaigns for more lawsuit restrictions - the Texas Supreme Court has narrowly ruled that hospital injuries seemingly unrelated to doctor error can still fall under the state's stringent medical malpractice caps. The case centers on Irving Marks, who fell while recuperating from back surgery at Houston's St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital in 2000. Marks alleged that a broken footboard on his hospital bed led to his fall and that he should be entitled to sue St. Luke's for unlimited damages with a so-called 'premises liability' claim. … The 5-4 high court ruling late last month reversed a 2009 high court decision that Marks' claims did not fall under medical malpractice law because the bed was not integral to his medical care. Under the new ruling, the court disqualified Marks for damages because he did not get a timely expert report, required in a medical malpractice case, on the broken bed" (Ramshaw, 9/22).

Los Angeles Times: "A bruising turf battle that pits City of Hope National Medical Center against the organization that provides most of its doctors has created a rift at the prestigious cancer treatment and research complex northeast of Los Angeles. The controversy - centering on a reorganization of hospital operations - has yielded dueling lawsuits, a doctors' 'loss of confidence' vote against chief executive Dr. Michael A. Friedman and public pleas for support to lawmakers and patients. Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich warned in a letter to City of Hope that the raging quarrel 'has escalated beyond a simple contract negotiation and now threatens the research and patient care upon which so many of us depend'" (McDonnell, 9/22).

The (Ill.) State Journal-Register: "Gov. Pat Quinn has pledged to not to increase retiree health care costs for the duration of the state's contract with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, according to a memo by a union official. The contract doesn't end until June 30, 2012, 18 months after the next governor takes office, but Quinn's pledge is not in writing, nor is it linked with a controversial no-layoff deal the governor plans to sign with the AFSCME" (Wetterich, 9/21).

Jackson (Miss.) Clarion Ledger: "Some 6,000 Mississippians with mental illnesses may lose access to their medications because of grant cuts to the state's community mental health centers. The Department of Mental Health cut the grants on the heels of a recent Medicaid-match payment agreement between the agency and the centers. They agreed, after months of negotiations, to split the cost 50-50 for drawing down federal Medicaid dollar" (Parker, 9/22).

The (Portland, Maine) Press Herald: "Sharp differences emerged over health care, taxes and spending when the five gubernatorial candidates on Maine's November ballot met Tuesday morning at a forum sponsored by the Maine Association of Area Agencies on Aging"(Monroe, 9/22).

Lexington Herald Leader: "A statewide task force has been formed to combat health care fraud, the state's U.S. Attorneys announced. The group, which held its first meeting Tuesday in Frankfort, includes representatives of local, state and federal agencies, as well as private health insurers. They will share information, identify trends and discuss investigations, according to a news release. An estimated $68 billion a year is taken from the nation's health care industry through fraud, which contributes to the rising cost of health care" (Ward, 9/22).

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.