A selection of health policy news from New York, Missouri, Texas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Kansas and California.
Politico Pro: Missouri Bill: ACA Implementation A Crime
The Missouri House thinks the dreaded federal health care reform law is a crime. Or at least a misdemeanor. Going even further than other state legislatures fighting the law, the Missouri state House has passed a bill declaring the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional and therefore "altogether void and of no force." Any federal worker who tries to implement it would be committing a misdemeanor (Smith, 4/23).
Houston Chronicle: Taxpayers Footed The Bill For Medicare Bonuses To Doctors
The American public for years paid physicians millions of dollars in Medicare bonuses to treat the medically needy in parts of Texas and across the country -- even though many doctors no longer qualified for the cash and federal officials knew it, a Houston Chronicle investigation has found. Documents show primary care physicians in Hidalgo County were overpaid $64 million from 2003 until last year. Doctors at 31 other Texas locations also received a still undetermined amount in bonuses for providing medical and mental health care in parts of Spring Branch, the Third Ward, Pasadena, Baytown and Texas City, as well as parts of San Antonio and North Central Bexar County, among others (Langford, 4/23).
Boston Globe: Three Mass. ERs Cited For Denial Of Care
Health officials cited three Massachusetts hospitals in the past six months for wrongly sending away patients from their emergency rooms, in one case resulting in the death of a patient while en route to another facility. ... Hospitals that break federal rules ensuring public access to emergency services can face especially tough sanctions. Flagrant or repeat violators risk losing their right to treat Medicare and Medicaid patients, which can cost a hospital millions of dollars (Kowalczyk, 4/23).
California Watch: Lawmakers Move To Curb Hospitals From 'Capturing' Patients
The emergency room practices of a major California hospital chain have prompted new legislation to reduce what critics describe as a pattern of "capturing" insured patients in order to boost bills. Sen. Ed Hernandez, D-West Covina, chairman of the state Senate Health Committee, is carrying the bill limiting how much hospitals are paid after they admit a certain rate of out-of-network, privately insured patients (Jewett, 4/23).
The Wall Street Journal: Cuomo Keeps Grip On Funds In Settlement
In the waning days of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's tenure as attorney general, his office shifted tens of millions of dollars in settlement funds from a high-profile insurance probe to an account controlled by the state Department of Health. … The transfer was approved on Dec. 22, 2010. The attorney general's office has since sought an analysis of Fair Health's expenditures from the Health Department but hasn't yet received the information, said an attorney general official (Gershman, 4/22).
(St. Paul) Pioneer Press: At The Capitol: Health Departments Seeks Law Change After High Court Ruling
A state Supreme Court ruling last year could prevent the Minnesota Department of Health from collecting certain kinds of important public health information, according to a letter sent to state lawmakers Friday, April 20. Because of the ruling, Dr. Ed Ehlinger, the health commissioner, is asking leaders in the state House and Senate to bring forth legislation to amend certain data practices laws before the end of the current legislative session (Snowbeck, 4/20).
Kansas Health Institute News: Dentists Shouldn't Fear Mid-Level Dental Care, Expert Says
Proponents in at least 15 states including Kansas are pushing their legislatures to license mid-level dental providers as a way to extend basic oral health care access to thousands who have none. But those efforts are running up against a common obstacle: opposition from dentists. ... Fear of the unknown is likely behind most dentists' opposition to mid-level providers, said panelist Michael Helgeson, a dentist in Minnesota. Alaska and Minnesota are the only two states that currently license mid-level dental providers (Cauthon, 4/21).
California Healthline: Three Bills Aim To Change Nursing Home Care
The Assembly Committee on Health last week approved two bills to alter nursing home care in California and it will hear a third one this week. ... [The Nursing Facility Bed Hold Protection Act of 2012] would require the Department of Health Care Services to penalize facilities for refusal to readmit a patient on appeal (Gorn, 4/23).
KQED's State of Health: California Prison Medical Costs Higher Than Average
As the state prepares to resume control of inmate medical care, it must find ways to reduce costs that are triple the national average, the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office said Thursday. The federal receivership that has been in place since 2006 has greatly improved the medical care of state prison inmates but also has caused costs to soar, according to the report. California spends $16,000 per inmate for health care services, compared to an average of $5,000 in other states (Schwartz, 4/20).
HealthyCal: Shattering The Constraints Of Aging
As Fred Olson’s body is wheeled out of AgeSong, the senior community’s founder Nader Shabahangi is offered a basket with red and white flower petals. … One of the country’s leaders in redefining aging, Shabahangi’s rebel philosophy is filtered into six AgeSong Assisted Living and Elder Communities in San Francisco, Oakland, and neighboring Emeryville, which house nearly 400 residents. His approach actively counters today’s constricted views on aging (Perry, 4/22).