KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Roundup: Florida Health Law Battles Take New Turn

A selection of health policy stories from California, Texas, Oklahoma, Florida, Maryland, North Carolina and Oregon.

NPR: For Tea Party Activists In Florida, The Health Care Battle Goes On
Even in Florida, where Republican leaders led the legal battle against Obamacare, there's recognition now that the state has to act fast to comply with the new law. ... After Nov. 6, [Gov. Rick] Scott had a change in tone. "Gov. [Mitt] Romney did not win the election. So, it's not an option to repeal Obamacare," he said. "So, my goal now is to focus on what's good for our citizens." But Republicans are having trouble convincing Tea Party activists that the fight is over (Allen, 12/4).

The Associated Press: 'Obamacare' Foes Vent Anger To Fla. Sen. Committee
Dozens of Tea Party activists and conservative religious leaders flooded a state Senate meeting on the Affordable Care Act on Monday, calling the law a gross overreach by the federal government and begging lawmakers not to implement it. The first meeting of the Senate Select Committee on Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, chaired by Republican Sen. Joe Negron, was a fiery one (Kennedy, 12/5).

The Associated Press: Oklahoma Court Rules Anti-Abortion Laws Pertaining to Ultrasound, Drugs Are Unconstitutional
Oklahoma laws requiring women seeking abortions to have an ultrasound image placed in front of them while they hear a description of the fetus and that ban off-label use of certain abortion-inducing drugs are unconstitutional, the state Supreme Court ruled Tuesday (Talley, 12/4).

The Miami Herald: DCF Wants Its Kids Out Of Nursing Homes
With Florida under heavy fire for funneling sick and disabled children into nursing homes designed for elders, child welfare administrators have quietly enacted a new policy aimed at keeping sick foster kids in community settings. The Department of Children & Families has distributed a new agency policy that requires high-level approval before any child in state care can be admitted to a nursing home, or move from one institution to another. DCF also will ramp up its efforts to recruit foster parents who are specially trained to care for children with significant special needs (Miller, 12/4).

California Healthline: Suit Seeks Changes In-Home Support Services Disability Rules
A lawsuit filed yesterday in U.S. District Court in Sacramento urges state health officials to alter California's limit on adult in-home supportive services. The limit doesn't make sense, the Disability Rights California lawsuit said, because a higher limit would allow some beneficiaries to remain home, which would cost the state less than the price of institutionalization.  DHCS officials said the department has a policy of not commenting on pending litigation (Gorn, 12/5).

Los Angeles Times: Changes To California Children's Healthcare Won't Be Delayed, Official Says
A top official in Gov. Jerry Brown's administration said Tuesday that California will begin transferring poor children into a cheaper healthcare plan on Jan. 1, despite concerns from some lawmakers and advocates that the state's plan is inadequate (Megerian, 12/4).

The Dallas Morning News: Texas Again Fines Parkland Memorial Hospital For Patient-Safety Breakdowns State regulators have again fined Parkland Memorial Hospital for patient-safety breakdowns. Dallas County's troubled public hospital failed to investigate two sudden, unexpected deaths this summer and a third case in which a patient "was suspected of having blood transfusion complications," the Texas Department of State Health Services said. Such internal investigations are legally required. None of these failures "put any patient at clinical risk," Parkland spokeswoman April Foran responded in an email Tuesday. She stressed the hospital had reported all the problems to the state (Egerton, 12/4).

The Oregonian: Gov. John Kitzhaber Wants To Add Roughly 200,000 To Oregon Health Plan
Not having health insurance was making Tamica Kent sick. ... Her lupus-related kidney disease is life-threatening, and three or four times she was forced to seek treatment in hospital emergency rooms. ... The waiting period for people like Kent could end if Gov. John Kitzhaber gets his way on a proposal to add at least 160,000 people to the Oregon Health Plan – but his budget has to get through the Legislature first (Budnick, 12/4).

The Lund Report: Future Of Tobacco Settlement Funds Faces Legislature
An advocacy coalition of healthcare and public health organizations is seeking legislative support next session on a proposal to spend Oregon's share of the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) funds on prevention and community based-health initiatives. ... settlement payments from tobacco companies cover only $0.07 of each $1.00 that Oregon spends treating smoking-related conditions (Scharer, 12/4).

Baltimore Sun: Legislators To Look At Drug Shortages
The staff at Anne Arundel Medical Center considered canceling some surgeries on a recent weekend because the hospital was running low on a common drug used to help bring people out from under anesthesia. It is the kind of problem hospitals and doctors around the country continue to face as drug shortages that began a few years ago threaten the way everyday medicine is practiced. ... Maryland lawmakers are jumping into the fray with plans to introduce legislation to tackle the issue (Walker, 12/4).

ABC: NC Hospitals Warn Employees To Get A Flu Shot Or Get Fired
With officials at the Centers for Disease Control saying it's gearing up to be a bad flu season, ... [t]his past summer, officials at First Health Moore Regional Hospital adopted a policy that requires all staff who routinely work in patient care areas to be vaccinated annually for influenza. Officials at the care facilities say the forward-thinking policy was put in place because the common flu may have not-so-common effects on people facing more serious illnesses (Schmitt, 12/4).

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Health Care Cost Increases Slow, But Still Higher Than Midwest, U.S.
Hospitals in southeastern Wisconsin are doing a better job controlling costs and keeping prices in check than their counterparts in the Midwest and throughout the country, according to a study released Tuesday. The result is that health care premiums continue to move closer to the Midwest and national averages. Those were the key findings of two studies released by the Greater Milwaukee Business Foundation on Health Inc., which has done a series of studies since 2003 on health care costs in southeastern Wisconsin (Boulton, 12/4).

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