KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Roundup: Storms’ Impact On Health Care; Calif. Election Results

A selection of health care stories from various states around the country.

The New York Times: Seeking A Cure For Troubled Hospitals In Brooklyn
Only a few private hospitals have survived in neighborhoods like Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brownsville and Bushwick to serve poor patients like them. Now all are in such dire financial shape that a small group of veteran health care planners appointed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is debating last-ditch measures to save them (Bernstein, 11/9).

The Associated Press/MSN: Lawmakers Hear About Mental Health Post-Irene 
The closing of the Vermont State Hospital because of flooding from a tropical storm has made hospital emergency rooms around the state ground zero for people in psychiatric crisis ... lawmakers were told Wednesday.  ... [Emergency room personnel]say they have been under increasing stress from encounters with the mentally ill since the state hospital in Waterbury was closed by flooding from Tropical Storm Irene on Aug. 28 (Gram, 11/9).

The Connecticut Mirror: Storm Panel Told Of Challenges Faced By People With Disabilities
When the power went out at her home in Cromwell, Nanfi Lubogo used her cell phone to access the town's website to find information on shelters. ... for Lubogo, the challenge was particularly acute. Her 12-year-old daughter relies each night on a sleep apnea machine that uses electricity, and takes medication that must be refrigerated. ... "There's no one system that is statewide that people should know to go to," Lubogo told members of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's Two Storm Panel Wednesday (Levin Becker, 11/9). 

Medscape: Oregon Medicaid Dental Cuts Sent Patients To Emergency Departments
Oregon Medicaid patients who lost their dental benefits resorted to medical facilities for dental care, researchers report in the November issue of the American Journal of Public Health. In contrast, a matched cohort of patients who kept their benefits were less likely to visit medical settings for dental care as time went on (Harrison, 11/9).

Stateline: San Francisco Voters Approve Pension Cutbacks
A year ago, San Francisco was the only one of nine California cities and counties to defeat a ballot measure trimming retirement benefits, largely because of union opposition. After that vote, Lee, the Board of Supervisors, the chamber of commerce, labor leaders and city employees worked together on a comprehensive package of pension cuts and higher worker contributions to put before voters in the November 8 election. The plan also requires city employees to contribute to the health care coverage they receive when they retire (Fehr, 11/10). 

California Healthline: Health Insurance Rate Regulation May Be On November Ballot
The contentious issue of regulating California's health care insurance industry is back. After AB 52 by Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles) and Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) was shelved at the end of the last legislative session, that looked like the final word on the prospect of regulating health insurance rates (Gorn, 11/10). 

San Francisco Chronicle: Calif. Health Insurance Initiative Drive Started
By early January, Consumer Watchdog expects to be able to start collecting the more than 500,000 signatures it needs to get the proposed measure on the November 2012 ballot…. Health insurers and other opponents wasted no time in criticizing the proposed measure, calling it "deeply flawed" and a "gimmick" (Colliver, 11/10).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Workforce Shortages To Strain Certain California Communities
Medical workforce shortages will disproportionately strain certain communities in California, as at least 4 million more people receive coverage in coming years through the 2010 federal health law, a new report finds (Marcy, 11/9).

Health News Florida: Which Cities Have Happy Patients?
Pensacola has the most-satisfied hospital patients in Florida, according to an analysis of Medicare data. But if you guess Miami has the least satisfied -- just based on the other problems of Florida's largest population center -- you'd be wrong. The least-satisfied hospital patients in Florida, according to surveys, are in Ocala and Fort Myers (Gentry, 11/9). 

Related, earlier KHN story: When TLC Doesn't Satisfy Patients, Elite Hospitals May Pay A Price (Rau, 11/7). 

Georgia Health News: Health Grant Change May Hurt Some Counties
Several Georgia counties could lose at least 40 percent of their state grant-in-aid money for public health under a new formula being rolled out this year. ... The state grant-in-aid formula is changing this year after being frozen since 1970. The formula was revised to reflect three components: a county's population, the number of people living in poverty, and the county’s overall poverty rate (Miller, 11/9). 

Georgia Health News: Researcher Looks At Roots Of Health Disparities (Video)
Cardiovascular disease causes 20 percent of all deaths in Georgia, but it's responsible for 30 percent of deaths of black Georgians ... Those disparities motivated Dr. Jonathan Murrow to return to northeast Georgia to do research that could improve health in the state (Toledo, 11/9).

Denver Post: Study: Health Tax Would Cost Colorado Jobs
A health insurance tax would cost Colorado 2,500 jobs within the decade, all in small businesses, and add up to $1 billion in lost sales, according to a study released today by the National Federation of Independent Business Research Foundation (11/9).

Denver Post: Report: Colorado Hospitals Have $18.8 Billion Economic Impact
The Colorado Hospital Association commissioned the report to study the employment stability of the healthcare sector and the impact hospitals have had during the economic downturn. The study, conducted by Colorado State University, found hospitals in the state employed nearly 72,000 people last year and that spending by the facilities and their workforce created another 61,400 jobs (Migoya, 11/9).

Bangor Daily News: LePage: Cut Welfare and MaineCare Or We’ll Have To Cut Education
Gov. Paul LePage told members of the Higher Education Council on Wednesday that if lawmakers do not reduce Medicaid and welfare benefits, education funding will need to be cut to bring the state budget into balance. ... LePage urged the leaders of the state's colleges and universities, public and private, to encourage their lawmakers to support his proposals to reduce Medicaid, called MaineCare in this state, and welfare spending (Leary, 11/9).

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