Mass. Legislature Denies Requests To Trim Municipal Health Benefits; N.Y. Ordered To Transfer People With Mental Illness Out Of Institutional Group Homes

The Boston Globe: "The state's public employee unions won a major victory this week when the Legislature abandoned efforts to allow cities and towns to trim generous health care benefits enjoyed by thousands of municipal employees, retirees, and elected officials. The decision by lawmakers not to address the issue in next year's budget means the Legislature will almost certainly not act on it this year, setting the stage for mayors and other municipal officials to take their case directly to voters in a ballot initiative for 2012" (Murphy, 6/25).

The New York Times: "A federal appeals court has ruled that New York State must comply with a lower court's order to begin immediately transferring thousands of people with mental illness in New York City out of large, institutional group homes and into their own homes and apartments, where they will continue to receive specialized treatment and services. The decision by a two-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit to lift a stay of the lower court order means that after seven years of litigation, the state must now hurriedly begin the process of developing and executing a plan to create at least 1,500 units of so-called supportive housing a year for the next three years at state expense" (Sulzberger, 6/24).

Denver Business Journal: "The Colorado Health Foundation is offering $3 million in short-term loans to more than 275 non-profit health care organizations that are experiencing cash-flow problems because of Medicaid payment delays. As one of its budget-balancing procedures, the state of Colorado is pushing back payments to Medicaid providers that would have been made during the last two weeks of this month until after July 1, when it begins a new fiscal year. A number of cash-poor clinics have reported that this is causing financial problems" (Sealover, 6/24).

The Boston Globe: "Health care and immigrant advocacy groups, getting their first look at the Legislature's final budget plan yesterday, said they were deeply concerned that lawmakers relegated $56 million for immigrant health care to a provisional section of the state budget with funding that appears very much in doubt. It is unclear whether Governor Deval Patrick, who battled the Legislature last year to preserve stripped-down coverage for legal immigrants, will fight for the issue again this year when the budget reaches his desk" (Bierman, 6/25).

CBS News: [Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick] urged a Cape Cod school superintendent to reconsider the idea of giving out free condoms to all students who ask for them -- including kids as young as first grade. … If the policy is implemented, condoms will be available to all Provincetown public school students this fall. Any student requesting a condom from a school nurse must first receive counseling, which includes information on abstinence. Parents would not be notified. The policy has already taken its share of knocks. Kris Mineau, president of the conservative Massachusetts Family Institute, calls it absurd" (Hunter, 6/24).

Kansas Health Institute: "Next week, the University of Kansas Medical Center and the KU Hospital will launch the state's first emergency medicine residency program. Six residents will begin the three-year program July 1. Officials said their plan is to add six residents a year to the program for the next two years, generating 18 emergency medicine specialists. Additional slots could be added in the future. … Last year, the American College of Emergency Physicians issued a 50-state report card on the status of emergency medicine. Kansas received a D+ in the 'quality and patient safety environment' category due, in part, to 'a lack of emergency medicine residents'" (Ranney, 6/24).

CNN: "The highly contagious disease whooping cough has reached an epidemic level in California, state officials say, according to CNN affiliate KTLA. There have been 910 recorded cases of whooping cough in the state as of June 15. Five babies have died from the disease this year. … California has seen three times its usual number of whooping cough cases this year, a state health department spokesman told CNN recently" (Landau, 6/24).

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