KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Health-Care Coverage Program For Kids Ends in Ariz.; Florida Medicaid Patient Information May Be At Risk

Health News Florida: Are AHCA Computers Open To Mischief?
A new audit criticizes the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration and a contractor for failing to properly control access to computer systems that include sensitive information about Medicaid beneficiaries (Saunders, 12/17).

The Wall Street Journal: Health Studies Cited For Transplant Cuts Put Under The Knife
Cash-strapped Arizona has drawn national scrutiny for its decision to drop Medicaid coverage for some organ transplants as the state tries to plug a $1 billion gap in its health-care budget for next year (Bialik, 12/18).

The Arizona Republic: Program Providing Health-Care Coverage For Children Ends
When KidsCare ended in June, it cut in half the annual salary Valarie can earn while still qualifying for AHCCS (Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System). The child of a single parent qualified for KidsCare if the parent made between $14,570 and $29,140 a year before taxes. But now, the parent must make less than $14,580 a year for the child to qualify for AHCCCS (Lee, 12/18).

The Baltimore Sun: Local Universities Address Nursing Shortage
Driven by two trends - the graying of the profession and a bedeviling national nursing shortage - Baltimore-area colleges and universities are expanding programs to not only train the next generation of nurses but address a looming shortage in their own faculty ranks. New, accelerated graduate programs at schools such as the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing and Stevenson University have been formed recently to make it more convenient for current nurses to obtain advanced degrees, and hopefully use those newly acquired skills to train other nurses (Walker, 12/19).

The Boston Globe: Smokers Need Not Apply
Under a new policy believed to be the first of its kind for a hospital in Massachusetts, Anna Jaques Hospital in Newburyport last month began testing prospective employees for nicotine use. Those who fail the screening can forget about a job. The hospital's new hiring policy is part of a national trend as a growing number of private companies, citing concerns about the health and productivity of their employees as well as spiraling health insurance costs, strive to influence workers personal habits (Buote, 12/19).

The Texas Tribune: Lawsuit: Disabled Wrongfully Housed In Nursing Homes
Thousands of Texans with severe mental and physical disabilities, many of them young adults, are confined in nursing homes with no access to rehabilitative care, according to a lawsuit being filed in U.S. district court today (Ramshaw, 12/20).

The Texas Tribune: Injured ER Patients Can't Find Attorneys, Blame Tort Reform
The tort reform state lawmakers passed in 2003 - the most sweeping in the country - made it more difficult for patients to win damages in any health care setting, but none more so than emergency rooms. The new law capped medical liability for noneconomic damages at $250,000 per health care provider, with a maximum award of $750,000 (Ramshaw, 12/19).

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