State Roundup: Brownback Blasted For Rejecting Federal Grant

News outlets report on a variety of health policy topics in the states.

iWatch News: State Attorneys General Not Leaping To Embrace HIPAA Enforcement
Only two state attorneys general have pursued the authority Congress gave them two years ago to prosecute privacy and security breaches of health information — despite training from federal agencies and a consensus among privacy groups that enforcement needs to improve. ... The expansion of jurisdiction to state attorneys general was awarded in concert with a $27 billion stimulus program initiated in 2009 to reward health care providers for switching from print to computerized health records (Leonard, 9/20). 

Los Angeles Times: Needle Exchange Proudly Flouts The Law
In an isolated Fresno cul-de-sac on a recent Saturday afternoon, Dr. Marc Lasher and a small band of volunteers were collecting dirty needles, doling out clean ones and providing medical care for addicts from a yellow school bus. But they were breaking the law (Marcum, 9/19).

The Wichita Eagle: Brownback Under Fire For Rejecting Health Care Grant
Gov. Sam Brownback has come under fire from Democrats and some Republicans ever since his administration rejected a $31.5 million federal "early innovator" grant for health care reform that it had earlier voiced support for. A woman from Wichita submitted a petition last week with more than 3,000 signatures protesting rejection of the grant. Like other petitions, it will be analyzed to see if those signing are Kansans. Then a report about the petition and its signers will be forwarded to the governor and his constituent services staff will prepare a response. Brownback's administration has said there were too many strings attached to the grant, which was supposed to fund the creation and implementation of an online health insurance exchange where consumers could compare and purchase policies (Wistrom, 9/20).

The Connecituct Mirror: State Medical Society, Physician Group May Offer Health Insurance
Aiming to provide another insurance option for state residents, the Connecticut State Medical Society and its network of physician practices have created a nonprofit organization that they hope will be able to offer health insurance to individuals and small businesses as part of federal health reform. ... the federal health reform law allows--and provides funding for--nonprofit, member-run health insurers known as Consumer Operated and Oriented Plans, or CO-OPs, to do so too (Levin Becker, 9/19).

California Healthline: Federal MSSP Waiver Expansion Cut From Transition Plan
In its transition plan for eliminating the adult day health care benefit, the California Department of Health Care Services had been planning to expand the Multipurpose Senior Services Program, a federal waiver program aimed primarily at case management. The state planned to expand that program by 1,000 slots. Yesterday it abandoned that idea in part because of the long waiting list that currently exists within that program (Gorn, 9/20). 

The Sacramento Bee: Thousands Of Nurses To Strike At Kaiser, Sutter Hospitals Thursday
Thousands of nurses at more than 30 Sutter Health and Kaiser Permanente hospitals in Northern California will walk off the job Thursday in what union officials say will be the nation's largest-ever nurses' strike. … The massive one-day strike, engineered by the CNA – part of the National Nurses United superunion – and the smaller National Union of Healthcare Workers, comes as Sacramento-based Sutter Health is seeking concessions from registered nurses at its Bay Area hospitals. The concessions include sharp hikes in health premium and retirement contributions and elimination of paid sick leave and the ability to advocate for patients (Smith and Reese, 9/20).

HealthyCal: Californians Knows They Need Long-Term Care Coverage, But Don't Buy It
For the second time in as many months, a survey of Californians has found they are more aware than ever of the potential need for long-term health care in the future. But, paradoxically, fewer are taking steps to prepare for that costly possibility. ... The newest poll also found that only 6 percent of those queried believe state programs will cover their long-term care needs – a nearly 400 percent decline since the 1994 survey (Sample, 9/20). 

The Miami Herald: Lawmakers: Regulators Need To Crack Down On Assisted Living Facilities
With Florida's elderly population expected to boom in the next two decades, state regulators must crack down on rogue assisted living facilities by shutting down homes where residents die from abuse, slapping harsher fines on places that repeatedly break the law, and boosting the qualifications of people who run (assisted living facilities), a legislative study says. A report released by the state Senate calls for sweeping changes in oversight of (the institutions), asking lawmakers to improve a state system that's woefully underfunded, allows caregivers to work with "inadequate training" and relies on "deficient"’ enforcement to protect thousands of frail residents (Sallah and Miller, 9/19).

The Boston Globe: Advocates, Doctors Split On HIV-Test Bill
A proposal to change how people give consent for HIV tests has divided AIDS advocacy groups in Massachusetts and upset major medical organizations, stymieing legislators trying to bring the state into compliance with federal recommendations aimed at promoting more testing. At issue is a bill that would drop Massachusetts' requirement for specific written patient consent before a doctor tests for the AIDS virus - something 48 other states have done - and replace that with verbal consent. The measure would also require the physician (to) note in the medical record the patient’s decision (Lazar, 9/20).

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