State News: Calif., Ind. Hospitals Cope With Law’s Effects
The Texas Tribune: Federal Health Reform Clear Antagonist At House Hearing
[A]t today's meeting of the House Select Committee on State Sovereignty, Republican lawmakers laid out a dozen bills - and a handful of different strategies - to prevent implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in Texas, and allow the state to operate Medicaid its own way. ... One bill proposed today, state Rep. Leo Berman's HB 297, R-Tyler, would make it a criminal penalty for anyone to try to implement federal health reform in the state. The bill would "make the federal act invalid in the state of Texas," Berman said. Four bills and two constitutional amendments would ban the individual mandate, the tenet of federal health reform that requires Texans to have health insurance (Ramshaw, 3/17).
The Texas Tribune: Lawmakers Push for Changes to Hospital Hiring Law
The House County Affairs Committee today heard heated testimony on a number of bills targeting hospitals' ability to hire physicians. Currently, law does not allow hospitals to hire doctors directly. Instead, doctors must set up an individual practice.
Lawmakers laid out a number of different bills that would remove the corporate practice law from individual hospital districts, citing the need for doctors in rural areas in Texas. ... Supporters of the current law say it keeps doctors' medical judgment free of interference from the hospital, which have to worry about their bottom lines (Gonzalez, 3/17).
Related, earlier KHN story: Hospitals Lure Doctors Away From Private Practice (Gold, 10/13)
California Healthline: California's Hospital Systems Try To Be Accountable
Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has now promised that HHS will formally propose its ACO model by the end of March. The government's ACO definition is important -- it will not only outline how providers can tap into new payment incentives, but also provide key legal guidance for organizations as they construct partnerships that brush up against antitrust laws. ... Three of the California's largest hospital systems are steaming ahead with transformations intended to help them seize new opportunities -- or avoid rising challenges -- in the post-reform landscape (Diamond, 3/16).
Modern Healthcare: Reform Law Spurs Merger Plans In Indiana
The parent organizations of two northern Indiana hospitals plan to merge under a new company, citing the need to provide a greater level of integrated delivery under the national healthcare reform law. Officials with Elkhart (Ind.) General Healthcare System and Memorial Health System, South Bend, said they have entered a memorandum of understanding expected to lead to a binding agreement and a done deal by the end of the year (Blesch, 3/17).
WBUR's CommonHealth Blog: Blue Cross Foundation's Eight Lessons Of MA Reform
A report from the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation called "Lessons From the Implementation of Massachusetts Health Reform." ... Let me try to sum it up without using words like "implementation:" You have to keep learning as you go. You have to get broad buy-in, really spread the word - especially to the uninsured - and support a "health safety net" because even near-universal insurance coverage doesn't mean everybody gets the care they need. And then, once you get just about everybody insured, you still have to face the much harder problem of cutting costs (Goldberg, 3/17).
The Associated Press: Ariz. Senate Rejects Illegal Immigration Bills
Arizona legislators took a timeout from illegal immigration with the Senate easily defeating five related bills, reflecting little appetite for an issue that made the state the focus of national debate and protest last year. Majority Republicans were split Thursday in their votes on the defeated bills, which included two measures intended to force a U.S. Supreme Court ruling against automatic citizenship for U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants. ... One of the rejected bills would have required hospitals to contact federal immigration officials or local law enforcement if people being treated lack insurance and can't demonstrate legal status (3/18).
Connecticut Mirror: State Could Lose Another Four Nursing Homes With 472 Beds
A court-appointed receiver has recommended closing four nursing homes that have been in state receivership since January, arguing in court documents that they face financial barriers to operating and meeting required care standards. The homes ... were previously part of the troubled Haven Healthcare chain and were sold after Haven declared bankruptcy. ... The homes, which predominantly care for patients covered by Medicaid, would not be able to generate enough income to cover their operating expenses even if rent, management fees, capital improvements, wage and benefit increases and inflation were not included, she wrote (Becker, 3/17).
The Wall Street Journal: Calpers Probe Touches Medco
A broad corruption probe involving the California Public Employees' Retirement System has touched the pension fund's pharmacy-benefits manager-Medco Health Solutions Inc.-which Calpers this week dropped from contention for a new contract amid investigations into possible impropriety (Wisenberg Brin, 3/18).
The Kansas City Star: Four Abortion Bill Under Consideration In Kansas Legislature
Among the four abortion-related bills being heard in the committee is one that includes restrictions that would make abortions illegal after 22 weeks of gestation, the age at which a fetus could survive outside of the womb. ... Another bill, HB 2035, would require minors to obtain parental consent before an abortion and change the term "fetus" to "unborn child" (Foster, 3/17).
Minnesota Public Radio: Health Care, Education Drive Rochester's Rapid Growth
Between 2000 and 2010, Census data show the city experienced some of the fastest growth in the state. ... Rochester's educational sector, as well as its unparalleled health care industry, have been the centerpiece of the city's growth in the last decade. And at the center of that is the Mayo Clinic. ... Between 2000 and 2009, Rochester saw more than 11,000 jobs added to the community. Most of those were health care related, and many of those were at Mayo (Baier, 3/18).
Minnesota Public Radio: Tribal Leaders Say Prescription Drug Abuse Is Epidemic
[T]ribal leaders say abuse of prescription drugs has become an epidemic that plagues their communities. The Red Lake and White Earth Ojibwe bands have both declared public health emergencies to draw attention to the problem. ... Prescription pain killers are fast becoming the drug of choice on the reservation. From 2007 to 2008, the number of people treated for drug addiction tripled ... More recent numbers aren't available, but staff members at the Chemical Health program say they believe treatment admissions may have doubled again in each of the past two years. Those numbers don't include tribal members who underwent treatment off the reservation (Robertson, 3/18).