State Roundup: N.Y.’s Drug Rx Bill Passes Unanimously
A selection of state health policy news from Georgia, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Virginia, Maryland, Kansas and Florida.
The Associated Press/The Wall Street Journal: N.Y. Lawmakers OK Electronic Drug Prescription Bill
New York lawmakers unanimously approved legislation Monday that will require doctors to issue drug prescriptions electronically within three years, meanwhile establishing tighter restrictions on painkillers and other addictive drugs on the state list of controlled substances (6/11).
[Albany] Times Union: Drug Oversight Gets Unanimous OK
[The measure] will lead to the creation of a real-time database that gives physicians information on a patient's prescription history before prescribing the most powerful and addictive drugs, and requires pharmacists to provide information for that purpose. The system is meant to sniff out fraud and abuse such as "doctor-shopping," in which an addict goes to multiple physicians in search of even more powerful narcotics (Seiler, 6/11).
Kaiser Health News: Mass. Biggest Insurer Tightens Rules On Some Painkillers
In an effort to curb abuse of powerful painkillers, Massachusetts's largest insurer is going to restrict doctors' ability to write new prescriptions to 30 days' worth of pills before a mandatory review by the insurer. Officials at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts say the policy, which begins July 1, will prevent doctors from prescribing 60 days of a painkiller such as OxyContin (Andrews, 6/11).
Atlanta Business Chronicle: Out-Of-State Health Insurers Invited To Georgia, None Accept
A state law that takes effect July 1 allows out-of-state health plans to sell insurance to Georgians -- but no insurance companies have applied to participate, reports WABE.com. The station says the lack of participation is a surprise to many Republicans in state government who touted the idea as a way to drive down health insurance costs by applying free-market principles (Caldwell, 6/11).
Boston Globe: Mass. Poll Shows Concern Over Health Costs
Fourteen percent of sick adults in Massachusetts were unable to get health care they needed in the past year, according to a poll conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health and others. More than 7 in 10 of those who said they could not get treatment cited financial reasons, saying they could not afford the out-of-pocket costs or their insurer refused to cover the test or treatment (Conaboy, 6/12).
WBUR: Quality Of Care: Balance Of Knowledge, Communication
Our poll, Sick in Massachusetts, finds that 52 percent of those who responded said they are satisfied with the quality of their health care. Dr. Tara Lagu, researcher at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield and assistant professor at Tufts Medical School: ... "[I]t's not that surprising to me that you could identify a 'high quality doctor' and then get there and find that they spend the entire visit staring at the computer typing furiously trying to make sure they get everything done in the ten minutes" (Becker, 6/12).
The Associated Press/Kansas City Star: Kansas AG Pays $644K To Defend State Abortion Laws
The Kansas attorney general's office paid outside lawyers more than $644,000 to defend anti-abortion laws enacted last year. The office says it paid more than $328,000 as of Friday to Foulston Siefken, a Wichita firm helping defend a budget provision denying federal dollars for non-abortion services to Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood has filed a federal lawsuit against the measure (6/11).
Health News Florida: Fee-For-Service On Way Out?
Fee-for-service medical practice is dying, even if the Supreme Court strikes down the entire federal health law, an increasing number of health-business analysts say. The current system -- rewarding doctors who run the most tests and operate on the most patients -- is inherently inflationary and increases risks to patients, they say. Future rewards will go to doctors who spend their time listening to patients, keeping them healthy and quarterbacking a team of allied health professionals, they predict (Gentry, 6/11).
The Connecticut Mirror: Waterbury Hospitals' Proposed Merger Spurs Hopes And Concerns
The hopes and tensions underlying the proposed acquisition and merger of Waterbury's two hospitals were exposed during a public forum in Hartford Monday. While Waterbury's mayor said the plan could revitalize his struggling city, hospital union members said they felt ignored by the private entity that would acquire the new, merged hospital, and others said they were wary of the influence of the Catholic Church (Merritt, 6/11).
Baltimore Sun: Door To Health Care Enrolls More Than 6,700 Since Jan. 2011 Launch
In its first 16 months, Healthy Howard's Door to Health Care has enrolled more than 7,000 county residents, helping reduce Howard's uninsured population. … "The Door," as it's often called, was launched in January 2011 as a new component of the county's Healthy Howard program. It uses a pilot software program to screen applicants for eligibility in multiple health insurance programs (McPherson, 6/11).
Modern Healthcare: Lawsuit Challenges State CON Laws
A second lawsuit has landed in the federal courts challenging the constitutionality of state certificate-of-need laws that regulate when and how health care providers operate. The latest lawsuit, Colon Health Centers of America v. Bill Hazel was filed in the eastern district of Virginia by a libertarian law firm, on behalf of two out-of-state physician practices that say they cannot overcome the regulatory hurdles the state has established (Carlson, 6/11).
The Associated Press: NYC Health Board To Get Big Drink Ban Proposal
Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposal to ban large sugary drinks from New York City eateries is moving forward. The proposal is scheduled to be formally submitted to the city's board of health Tuesday morning (6/12).