States Weigh Bills To Protect Consumers Against High Drug Costs; Other State News

News outlets report on a variety of health policy issues around the country.

The Wall Street Journal: Texas Eyes Change In Stem-Cell Rules
A Texas agency will vote Friday on whether to enact new rules that would make it easier for doctors to offer experimental treatments using adult stem cells without federal approval. The Texas Medical Board, which licenses and disciplines doctors in the state, recently drafted stem-cell rules at the behest of Dr. Stanley Jones of Houston, who in July injected Gov. Rick Perry with the governor's own stem cells to try to aid his recovery from a back injury (Koppel, 4/12).

The New York Times: States Seek Curb On Patient Bills For Costly Drugs
Spurred by patients and patient advocates ... lawmakers in at least 20 states, from Maine to Hawaii, have introduced bills that would limit out-of-pocket payments by consumers for expensive drugs used to treat diseases like cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and inherited disorders (Pollack, 4/12).

The Dallas Morning News: North Texas Digital Patient Record Exchange Launched
A health information exchange designed to link 140 hospitals and more than 12,000 physicians across North Texas was launched Thursday with a contract award to Orion Health Inc., a New Zealand software company. The cost of the contract was not disclosed, but it comes under a $4.9 million state grant given last year for a North Texas Accountable Healthcare Partnership. The contract with Orion Health marks the culmination of more than six years of negotiations across the Dallas-Fort Worth area aimed at letting health care providers share information on patients (Landers, 4/12).

Minnesota Public Radio: Health Care Reform Doesn't Have To Be A Spectator Sport
You don't have to just sit there waiting for the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on national health care reform. You can instead sign up for one of about 40 two-hour conversations in the next several months around Minnesota that will let you talk about your own experience with the real-world balancing act among costs, care and health. The conversations are being sponsored by the Citizens League and the Bush Foundation. ... The discussions will lead to a written report in August to the state's bipartisan health care reform task force (Peters, 4/12).

MedPage Today: State Mandates Stent Necessity Review
In the aftermath of several high-profile cases of "overstenting," the Maryland General Assembly has passed legislation establishing an independent review process to ensure the medical necessity of coronary stent placement. The legislation, passed as part of a larger bill dealing with cardiac surgery and stenting, calls for independent, external review that is "free of bias and politics," said Marc Mugmon, MD, president of the Maryland chapter of the American College of Cardiology (Kaiser, 4/12). 

WBUR: Report: Mass. Health Coverage Law Not A 'Budget Buster'
Outside Massachusetts, talk show hosts and politicians frequently blast the state's health coverage law as a "budget buster." ... That's just one of the myths the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation (MTF) hopes to debunk with a report out Friday. The facts will help. Michael Widmer, president of the MTF, says the state has spent just $91 million more since 2006 to cover the uninsured than it was spending before the law passed. ... Now keep in mind that Massachusetts was already spending roughly $1 billion per year on care for uninsured residents who received free care at hospitals and clinics (Bebinger, 4/13). 

California Healthline: New Leader, New Plan, New EHR Initiative for Cal eConnect
Cal eConnect is a not-for-profit health information technology liaison between public and private stakeholders in California. Its task is a big one: to help integrate electronic health records into the fabric of medical practice throughout the state and to coordinate health information exchange among public agencies, providers, pharmacies, laboratories and health plans. ... Getting everyone in the state on the same EHR interface is one of several big steps Cal eConnect and state health data exchange participants are about to take (Gorn, 4/12). 

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from more than 300 news organizations. The full summary of the day's news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.