State Roundup: Calif. Suing Doc Over Billing Practices

A selection of health policy stories from New York, Maine, California, Maryland, South Carolina, Texas and Massachusetts.

The New York Times: Abortion Cases Against Clinic In Kansas Are Dropped By Prosecutors
The first criminal prosecution of Planned Parenthood came to an abrupt end Friday when Kansas prosecutors dropped all charges against a local affiliate accused of failing to determine the viability of fetuses before abortions were performed. ... They said that state law did not prohibit Planned Parenthood from using the gestational age of fetuses to determine whether they were viable or could survive outside of the womb. Planned Parenthood had contended that fetuses from 22 weeks to 24 weeks old are not viable, and given the mortality rates of premature babies, prosecutors said they could not adequately dispute that finding (Eligon, 8/17).

The Associated Press: Maine Special Session Said To Be About Hospital Money
A special legislative session Gov. Paul LePage has broached would focus on more than $150 million the state owes to its hospitals for Medicaid debts, a spokesman for Maine hospitals said Friday as prospects for a fall session remained hazy at best. Maine Hospital Association President Steven Michaud told the Bangor Daily News that his group and the governor's office have been discussing the issue, but Michaud says he hasn't seen any proposals. Of the roughly $460 million owed to the hospitals, the states would have to come up with one-third of the money while the federal government would pay the remainder (8/18).

Los Angeles Times: State Suing Doctor Over Billing Tactics
[Dr. Jeannette] Martello's use of aggressive tactics to collect fees from emergency room patients like Buck -- including lawsuits, taking out liens on their homes and damaging their credit -- prompted an unprecedented court case by state health officials and a judge's order for Martello to cease the practices (Gorman, 8/17).

Kaiser Health News: Maryland Seeks New Balance In Hospital Payment System
Maryland hospitals and regulators are discussing raising hospital prices for private insurers and businesses by hundreds of millions of dollars a year to make up for suggested cuts from Medicare and Medicaid (Hancock, 8/19).

Stateline: S.C. State Workers Challenge Health Insurance Hike
This year, the South Carolina legislature budgeted to give state workers, university employees and teachers their first raise in four years in exchange for increasing what they contribute to their retirement plans. The budget also included an appropriation to cover health insurance premium increases, so those costs wouldn't further erode the salary increase. After signing the budget, Governor Nikki Haley on August 8 used her chairmanship of the state's Budget and Control Board to persuade that body to vote to split the increased health insurance costs between employees and the state. The vote was 3-2. Legislative leaders from both parties have criticized the move as an improper attempt to usurp their authority (Maynard, 8/17).

The Dallas Morning News: A Pennsylvania Model For Improving Health Care -- And What Dallas Can Learn From It
Peggy Dukinas is a patient of Geisinger Health System, where the physicians running the company are testing an interesting proposition: By trying to achieve the best practices in medicine with a team approach, you can improve the quality of care while reducing its cost. … Geisinger serves as a model for what’s called an accountable care organization, where the health care team shares in a bundled, single payment. Better outcomes for patients, and savings for insurers, can lead to bonuses for the team. This is a mantra finding its way to Dallas, Texas, as well, but where some doubt that the same results can be repeated (Landers, 8/18).

The Boston Globe: State Amends Plan To Slash Psychiatric Care At Taunton
State officials have abandoned a preliminary plan to slash the number of beds that will remain available at Taunton State Hospital for long-term psychiatric patients, a proposal that appeared to violate an agreement with local lawmakers and hospital workers. Under that plan, aired at a meeting with nurses earlier this month, 27 of the 45 beds set aside for long-term care as a part of the negotiated agreement would have been assigned instead to prisoners and others undergoing short-term, court-ordered psychiatric evaluations (Shen, 8/19).

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