KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Roundup: Undocumented Immigrant Health Care Showdown In D.C.

A selection of health policy news from across the country.

The Washington Post: Gray, Catania Face Off Over Health Funding
Mayor Vincent C. Gray is heading for a final showdown Tuesday with D.C. Council member David A. Catania over city funding for a health insurance program that pays for hospital care for thousands of undocumented immigrants (Craig, 5/14).

The Wall Street Journal: Espada Guilty Of Stealing Clinic's Funds
Former state Sen. Pedro Espada Jr., the flamboyant Bronx politician who claimed one of New York's most powerful offices only to quickly fall from power, was convicted Monday on federal charges of theft from a health clinic he founded (El-Ghobashy, 5/14).

The Kansas City Star: Brownback Signs Bill To Help Fill Kansas Dentist Shortage
Gov. Sam Brownback has signed into law a bill that's intended to help the state cope with a dentist shortage but critics say doesn't go far enough. Brownback signed a law the expands the ability of dental hygienists to deal with tooth decay to help deal with the fact that 93 Kansas counties don't have enough dentists to serve their residents and 13 others don't even have a dentist. The bill is a much scaled down approach compared to another proposal that would have created a midlevel provider called a registered dental therapist who could perform some of the duties now handled by dentists, including filling cavities and pulling teeth (Cooper, 5/14).

Modern Healthcare: 100 Ky. Hospitals Sign On For Safety Program
The Kentucky Hospital Association said it has reached nearly an 80 percent participation rate in a nationwide program to reduce adverse events and readmissions. A total of 100 hospitals in the state have signed on to the Partnership for Patients campaign, according to a news release . About 2,000 hospitals in 33 states are participating in the initiative, which HHS launched in April 2011 (Kutcher, 5/14).

Sacramento Bee: Q&A: Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones On Health Care Reform
Since he took office early last year, state Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones has made health care reform his top priority. Now he's backing a ballot measure -- the Insurance Rate Public Justification and Accountability Act -- that would give him the power to block health insurance rate increases he deems excessive. He spoke to The Bee recently about the initiative and President Barack Obama's health care reform act under review by the U.S. Supreme Court (Garza, 5/14).

The Connecticut Mirror: Report: Babies, 18-year-olds Still Wrongly Losing Medicaid Coverage 
One-year-olds and 18-year-olds are still wrongly losing Medicaid coverage because of administrative glitches and confusing notices, despite pledges from Department of Social Services officials to address the issues, according to the researchers who identified the problems. ... [Mary Alice Lee and Sharon Langer], who are senior fellows at Connecticut Voices for Children, reported this month that babies turning 1 and teens turning 18 were in 2010 twice as likely as other children to lose coverage in HUSKY, the Medicaid program (Levin Becker, 5/14). 

The Texas Tribune: On the Records: Expanded Nursing Could Boost Economy 
Giving advanced practice registered nurses in Texas an expanded role in health care through legislative changes next year could increase the state’s economic output by $8 billion annually and create nearly 100,000 permanent jobs, according to a report by economist Ray Perryman released Monday. ... Perryman prepared the report for Texas Team Advancing Health Through Nursing, a nursing advocacy organization, of which he is a member (Aaronson and Park, 5/14). 

Minnesota Public Radio: Aging Population Leads Minn. Nurses Back To School 
Nursing schools have historically trained nurses to work at the bedside, in hospitals. But the rapidly aging population means more nurses are delivering care to patients outside of traditional hospital settings. Students are looking beyond two-year-nursing programs to learn more about physical therapy, treatment management and psychological care while pursuing a bachelor's degree (Baier, 5/14). 

The Associated Press: RI Considers 'Homeless Bill of Rights'
The bill would specifically prohibit law enforcement, health care workers, potential landlords or employers from treating homeless people unfairly because of their housing status. The measure's sponsor, Sen. John Tassoni, said most Americans probably aren't aware of the daily discrimination faced by homeless people (Klepper, 5/14).

The Dallas Morning News: New Report Sees Signs Of Progress At Parkland Hospital
Parkland Memorial Hospital made "measurable progress" in March toward a massive reorganization aimed at protecting patients, according to the initial compliance report issued by safety monitors. The report cautions that its scope is limited -- it covers only a few days of preliminary work by Parkland to address more than 400 mandates outlined in a federally imposed action plan. Still, this is the monitors’ first upbeat assessment since issuing three scathing reports in February (Moffeit, 5/14).

The Associated Press/Chicago Sun-Times: Quinn: Pension, Medicaid Reform A Rescue Operation
Gov. Pat Quinn appealed Monday to an influential group of business leaders in Chicago to add their weight to his push to reform Illinois' debt-laden Medicaid and public pension systems, describing the plan as both a tough sacrifice and an urgent "rescue operation" for future generations. With barely two weeks left in the legislative session, the Democratic governor has gone on the offensive and turned to unlikely allies in the business community to pressure lawmakers to pass his proposals. On the other side, unions and advocates for the poor say the reforms will hurt the most vulnerable. …To rein in Medicaid costs, Quinn has proposed cutting services for the poor and disabled and cutting payments to doctors and hospitals. To keep from having to cut further, he proposes essentially doubling the tax on a pack of cigarettes (Keyser, 5/14).

Kansas Health Institute News: New Kind Of Kansas Health Insurance Company In The Works 
For many, the term co-op evokes images of grain elevators ... or maybe where local-food devotees go to get a weekly helping of fresh produce. But a group at work in Wichita has a different vision. They are working to develop a member-owned co-op that would provide thousands of Kansans with health insurance. And they want the coverage to be different from plans offered by traditional carriers (McLean, 5/14). 

The Lund Report: Oregon's Health CO-OPs and Insurance Exchange Expect to Collaborate 
Anticipating future collaboration, representatives of Oregon's two developing healthcare CO-OPs gave a presentation to the state health insurance exchange's board last week. "They asked us to come and be part of a presentation on co-ops, to learn more about them and their role," said Cory Streisinger, who chairs the board of Community Care of Oregon, a healthcare CO-OP getting off the ground in Oregon after receiving $57 million in grants and loans from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid (Waldroupe, 5/14).

WBUR's CommonHealth blog: Health Reform 2012: Hello, How Much Will My Care Cost? 
Not exactly how things work now, is it? But as the Massachusetts legislature works toward the next, cost-cutting phase of health reform, both the House and the Senate proposals envision a toll-free number and online information for patients who want a sense in advance of how much their care is about to cost. I asked Dr. Neel Shah, founder and executive director of the Boston nonprofit Costs of Care, what he thought of the legislative proposals (Goldberg, 5/14). 

New Orleans Times-Picayune: Health, Higher-Ed Officials Warn Of Dire Consequences Of House Cuts 
Health programs including hospice care, a behavioral health hospital and services for the disabled are on the chopping block, and higher education is anticipating hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts ... The cuts come after a group of 51 state representatives succeeded Friday in removing one-time money for recurring expenses from next year's budget (Adelson, 5/14). 

The Lund Report (an Oregon news service): Oregon's Missed Opportunity for Tobacco Prevention; Master Settlement Agreement Monies Spent Elsewhere
Tobacco costs Oregonians at least $2.4 billion a year in direct and indirect costs related to smoking and tobacco use. That's over $13 per pack of cigarettes sold. ... Despite these staggering estimates, only 3 cents of the $1.18 tax per pack of cigarettes in Oregon goes toward tobacco reduction efforts (Scharer, 5/15). 

Colorado Public Radio: Shop And Compare For Healthcare
[I]n healthcare, different people pay different prices for the exact same procedures, depending on whether they’re insured, or which insurer they have. And in general, none of those prices are public. But there’s a project afoot in Colorado to change that, to create a new database of who does what procedures, how much they’re charging and whether they’re any good at it (Whitney, 5/14).

Alaska Public Radio: New Management Style Allows Health Organization To Improve Care
A Native health care organization in Anchorage is transforming the way it does business with the Toyota management system.  Chugachmiut delivers health care and social services to seven Alaska Native villages around Prince William Sound. Executive director Patrick Anderson says the Toyota Lean management style has helped the organization free up resources to spend on improving care (Feidt, 5/14).

North Carolina Health News: Legislators Return to a Variety of Health Care Issues In the General Assembly
This week, the General Assembly reconvenes for the ‘short’ session ... Below is a list of health-related committees and sub-committees, and what initiatives they will be sending to the larger legislative body later this week. Hospital regulation revisions ... Pharmaceutical Liability ... Children’s Health  (Hoban, 5/15).

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.