A selection of health policy stories from California, Illinois, Georgia, Connecticut, Minnesota, Michigan and Massachusetts.
Modern Healthcare: FTC Challenges Illinois Hospital Sale
The Federal Trade Commission on Friday announced it will once again challenge a proposed acquisition deal between competing hospitals in Rockford, Ill., citing fears that the consolidation could increase costs and lower quality of care. OSF Healthcare System had planned to acquire one of its two local hospital competitors in the northern Illinois city, Rockford Health System, for undisclosed terms in a deal that was planned to close in early 2012 (Carlson, 11/18).
Minneapolis Star Tribune: HCMC And Its Doctors’ Group To Merge Pending County’s OK
Hennepin County Medical Center and its doctors' group have agreed to merge operations in the center's latest effort to streamline costs and prepare for coming health care reforms. The deal at the state's largest public hospital system is subject to approval by the Hennepin County Board, but it's expected to pass at its Nov. 29 meeting (Crosby, 11/18).
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Hospital Mistakes Kept Secret
In an increasingly transparent era in health care, such data as the incidence of post-surgery infections and heart attack survival rates flood the Internet. Georgia, however, has tightened the secrecy surrounding some of the worst mistakes that occur in hospitals: patient suicides, sexual assaults and surgical errors (Judd, 11/20).
The Associated Press/Hartford Courant: State Backlogged On Home Care Inspections
Connecticut health officials say the state is behind in inspections of home health care agencies. The Day of New London reports that as reliance on home care grows, inspections of agencies in Connecticut are backlogged (11/21).
Detroit Free Press: Advocacy Group Recommends Tougher Sanction Against Negligent Nursing Home Staffer In Michigan
An advocacy group for the disabled is calling for tougher state laws following documented errors at Michigan nursing homes that led to injury or death among residents. Michigan Protection and Advocacy Service, a private non-profit, found numerous examples of neglect or abuse in state inspection reports on nursing homes in the state (Erb, 11/18).
WBUR's CommonHealth blog: Coakley Calls For Patient Cost Estimates, 'Clout' Limit, Possible 2015 Caps
Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley broaches three new tactics — or "pillars," as she puts it — for containing the state's health costs in her speech today to the Massachusetts Association of Health Plans. ... "Starting in 2015, if the market has not corrected unwarranted price variation, the administration should be able to reject health plan contracts with excessive or inadequate provider price variations" (Goldberg, 11/18).
Boston Globe: Mass. Group To Receive Grant To Lower Hospital Readmissions
Elder Services of Merrimack Valley will be one of seven organizations in the country to receive money through a new program aimed at helping people to get better care after they are discharged from the hospital. This is the first round of such grants being made through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Partnership for Patients program (Conaboy, 11/18).
The Associated Press/MSNBC: Feds Provide $6M For Rural Health Care In 6 States
Six states in the Mississippi River Delta region are getting more than $6 million in rural health care grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. More than half of it is going to Mississippi. Nearly $3 million in rural development grants will pay for the first urgent care center in Mound Bayou, Miss., and almost $700,000 will create an electronic intensive care unit system among five hospitals in Mississippi's poorest rural counties, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Friday (11/19).
HealthyCal: Small Towns, Large Integration
Few visitors to this nondescript burg [of Cutler, Calif.) would imagine it as home to one in a series of cutting-edge health clinics that raise the bar on low-cost, community-based healthcare with a sophisticated set of integrated services spanning primary care to alternative medicine and social outreach. ... A leading state rural health executive says the clinics push the envelope of low-cost care into the future where poor patients are treated holistically (Perry, 11/20).
California Watch: Shifting Prisoners To Counties Could Strain Local Services
California needs to pay attention to potential strains on county services as it implements Gov. Jerry Brown's plan to shift nonviolent criminals and parolees to counties, a RAND Corp. study says. ... The report found that newly released prisoners have a high level of health care needs, especially for mental health care and alcohol and drug treatment (Pearson, 11/20).
Related, earlier KHN story:Ex-Cons Part Of California Health Care Expansion To Childless Adults (Varney, 9/13).
Los Angeles Times: In Prison Hospice, At A Loss For The Right Words
Dying in the hospice was the most many sick inmates could hope for. There was a staff of doctors and nurses. There was the chaplain and his care workers. There were guards, of course, but it looked nothing like most prisons. ... Still, no dying man really wanted to spend his final days there (Streeter, 11/21).
Houston Chronicle: Harris County Offering A Fresh Alternative To Fast Food
In a long-range approach to a costly and growing problem, the (Harris County) hospital district last week began offering low-cost fresh produce at several of its clinics. Ultimately, it wants to make the produce available at all clinics and community health fairs (Kever, 11/20).