State Roundup: Ore. Lawmakers Consider Medical Liability Reforms
A selection of health policy stories from around the United States.
Modern Healthcare: SEC Pursues Former WellCare Execs In Civil Court
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is going after some former WellCare Health Plans executives in federal civil court regarding their alleged actions concerning WellCare's managed-care contracts for behavioral health in the state of Florida. In 2010, WellCare agreed to pay about $334 million to settle legal actions with various entities related to an alleged $40 million, five-year pattern of fraud in those contracts without admitting or denying any wrongdoing (Barr, 1/11).
Associated Press/(St. Paul) Pioneer Press: Emergency Medical Assistance Program Ends
Hundreds of people in Minnesota who aren't U.S. citizens will no longer receive most health care services from a program of last resort. The state Department of Human Services mailed letters to 2,300 people last month informing them that much of their coverage would lapse on Jan. 1. They would still receive emergency care at a hospital but would no longer be eligible for chemotherapy, dialysis or other services (1/11).
The Lund Report (an Ore. news service): Legislators Expect To Consider Reforms In February Session
In Oregon, three consultants from Harvard have been hired to research solutions and make recommendations to the February legislative session on the benefits and consequences of reforming the state's medical liability laws. … The benefits and impacts of liability reform will become part of their report along with how medical liability cases have been handled. The consultants will also determine if Oregon should alter the amount of non-economic damages someone could receive in a malpractice lawsuit. That recommendation would require legislative approval. Currently, Oregon has a $500,000 limit on non-economic damages (Thomas, 1/12).
The Wall Street Journal: Appellate Ruling Upholds Texas Abortion Law
The Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday upheld a Texas law that requires women seeking an abortion to have a sonogram exam and to listen to a physician's detailed description of the fetus, including whether it has developed limbs or internal organs. Supporters of the law, enacted last year, say it is designed to ensure that women are fully informed about abortions and, ultimately, to discourage them from undergoing the procedure (Koppel, 1/12).
HealthyCal: Aging In A Land Of Youth
As the birthplace of the computer revolution, Silicon Valley vigorously celebrates innovation and youth culture. In the shadow of the digital age, however, older adults in Santa Clara county echo a similar concern: they are second-class citizens when it comes to financial support from government agencies and high-tech foundations. … Last spring, older adults rallied at meetings of the county's Board of Supervisors and the San Jose City Council, demanding to retain critical services that included adult day health care, transportation to adult community centers, and senior nutrition programs. In a well-orchestrated effort by local nonprofits, seniors first addressed government officials, then pulled out a paper heart and ripped it in half (Perry, 1/11).
The Philadelphia Inquirer: Nurse Layoffs Already Putting Phila. Students At Risk, Protesters Say
Laying off 47 Philadelphia School District nurses has caused children to suffer and is endangering their health, a group of nurses said Wednesday. One diabetic student had to transfer from her school because it had no full-time nurse, they said. At another school, they added, the principal erroneously administered a medication without doctor's orders. … For the third week in a row, dozens gathered outside the School District headquarters on North Broad Street to protest the nursing cuts, which were made to help bridge a budget shortfall of more than $629 million (Graham, 1/12).
MinnPost: As Recession Holds Down Health Spending, Have You Made Choices To Forgo Or Delay Treatment?
On Monday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported that health-care spending, as a share of the overall economy, stabilized in 2010. People may be using less care for a variety of reasons, including more prevalent cost-shifting provisions in insurance policies, job loss and greater awareness of the true cost of care. ... According to Minnesota Compass, a social indicators tracking project spearheaded by Wilder Research, average spending on health care by household in the 13-county Twin Cities metro area fell from $3,834 in 2007 to $3,354 in 2008 and $3,314 in 2009. At the national level, household spending on health care rose from $2,952 in 2007 to $2,966 in 2008 and $3,126 in 2009 (Hawkins, 1/11).