KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

California Examines ‘Never Events’ At Hospitals; La. Seeks Funding For Primary Care Clinics; Texas Trims Children’s Health Program

San Francisco Chronicle: "Drill bits, screws, sponges, clamps, needles, catheters, electrodes. These are some of the things accidentally left inside patients after surgery at California hospitals. These instances are referred to as 'never' events, meaning they are never supposed to happen. But even though they are reported in a small percentage of surgeries, they occur with alarming regularity." Surgical equipment left inside patients after procedures represents the second-most-common preventable adverse, following bed sores. "In the latest fiscal year, California hospitals reported 197 cases of 'retained foreign objects' for a total of 350 incidents over the past two years. ... In 29 of the cases involving a retained foreign object, the state deemed the problems serious enough to issue fines, according to public health officials" (Colliver, 6/2).

The New Orleans Times-Picayune: "Seeking a long-term financing stream for the New Orleans-area network of primary care clinics that blossomed after Hurricane Katrina, state health officials are asking federal Medicaid authorities to let the state redirect money that now goes to help cover uninsured patients' hospital care. In exchange, the state is proposing to require all participating clinics -- there are now more than 90 sites run by 25 organizations, from universities to Daughters of Charity and other not-for-profits -- to meet best-practice standards for primary care 'medical homes,' while the network would track patient data to assess the system's financial efficiency and health outcomes. The approach would build on a $100 million federal dispersal that has given the clinics more than $30 million annually since 2007, with the purpose obvious in its name: Primary Care Access and Stabilization Grant. That money runs out in September" (Barrow, 6/2).

Monroe (La.) News Star: The state legislature's "session ends June 21 but the last several days are set aside for conference committees to iron out differences in House and Senate versions of bills. Health care funding is an area of concern to Sen. Sherri Cheek, R-Keithville. And Lydia Jackson, D-Shreveport."Alan Levine, secretary of the state Department of Health and Hospitals, "said the new federal health care system is going to greatly increase the number of people who are Medicaid eligible, which causes major funding problems for the state to meet its necessary match and for health care providers. … Dr. Fred Cerise, head of the LSU system, said LSU's hospitals were in serious trouble and he expected to have to close six of the 10 facilities until [Gov. Bobby] Jindal administration altered the proposed budget to allocate funds to them. But the House committee took half of the money, he said, so now he's looking at closing the four least-utilized of the state's charity hospitals" (Hasten, 6/2).

The Austin American-Statesman: "Facing a $15 billion to $18 billion budget shortfall in 2012-13, state leaders ordered a round of budget cuts this year that trimmed $3.5 million from" Children with Special Health Care Needs, a state program that "serves children with a variety of health problems as well as people of any age who have cystic fibrosis" and has 950 kids on the waiting list.  "Advocates for children and low-income Texans worry that such cuts foreshadow additional painful trims to health and human services programs" (MacLaggan and Alexander, 6/1).

The New York Times: "To save $3.1 million, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has proposed eliminating nursing positions, which are provided by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, at schools with an enrollment of 300 students or fewer. ... According to preliminary estimates by the mayor, the move would affect 146 schools, though that number may be adjusted downward if schools get exemptions for specific children's health needs. No unionized nurses would be laid off. But the president of the United Federation of Nurses and Epidemiologists says the cuts will affect 182 schools, including 132 private schools and 50 public schools. And Henry Fortier, associate superintendent for public policy and government programs for the New York Archdiocese, says the number is greater still, contending that the proposal threatens nursing positions at 177 Catholic schools alone" (Anderson, 6/1).

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