Roundup: Flurry Of Health Bills As Calif. Legislature Winds Down; Kansas City Health Data Exchange Opens Up

California Healthline: Health-Related Bills Pass Legislature, Healthy Families In Limbo
The window to save the Healthy Families program is narrowing to a small slit, with just a single day left to pass bills. ... Today -- until midnight tonight -- is the last day for legislation to be passed this year. The governor has until the end of September to veto or approve bills. There is still a chance that SB 301 by Senate member Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) and AB 826 by Assembly member Sandré Swanson -- two identical bills that would reinstate the Healthy Families program and help the state recoup about $184 million from an extended MCO tax -- could pass the Legislature in today's final session of the year, but that prospect is looking less likely now (Gorn, 8/31).

Sacramento Bee: Whether Smokers Should Pay More Is Among The Questions In California Health Care Debate
Should smokers pay more for health insurance? The issue was one of several that California lawmakers considered this week as they sent Gov. Jerry Brown bills that carry out the federal health care overhaul by 2014. Health organizations successfully won provisions that prohibit insurers from charging tobacco users higher premiums on the individual market (Yamamura, 8/31).

The Wall Street Journal: California Bill Bans Gay-Conversion Therapy
California's state legislature on Thursday passed the nation's first law banning professional psychological therapy aimed at turning gay and lesbian youth straight. The legislation, which will next go to Gov. Jerry Brown for review, prevents licensed psychologists and therapists from seeking to change the sexual orientation of children under 18 (Fowler, 8/30).

Los Angeles Times: California Lawmakers Approve Medical Parole For County Jail Inmates
With county jails packed to bursting throughout California, state lawmakers gave final legislative approval Thursday to a measure allowing inmates to be released early if they are medically incapacitated. The "compassionate release" bill sent to the governor was requested by Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca and was modeled after a state program that releases inmates from prison if they are deemed to be so ill or injured that they are not a threat to public safety (McGreevy, 8/30).

AP/San Jose Mercury: Bill Extends Abortion Test Program For Non-Doctors
A bill sent to Gov. Jerry Brown would extend a pilot program allowing non-doctors to perform abortions in California. The Senate approved SB623 on a 22-16 vote Thursday. It extends until Jan. 1, 2014, a program that lets nurse practitioners, certified nurse-midwives and physician assistants provide aspiration abortions. The process involves using a tube to empty the uterus with suction. The statewide program has provided for 8,000 first-trimester abortions. Without the extension, the authority will expire this year (8/30).

Kansas Health Institute News: Heartland To Begin Sharing Control Of Health Information
The Heartland Health board approved a plan Wednesday to begin sharing control of the Kansas City area's largest developing digital health information exchange, with the goal of getting more area hospitals and health care providers to join the network by the end of the year. Heartland began in 2008 funding and steering the development of the Lewis and Clark Information Exchange, or LACIE. It was envisioned to be an independent, non-profit regional network for secure electronic exchange of patient records among health care providers in the KC area and beyond (Cauthon, 8/30).

The Lund Report: Campaign For Single-Payer Building Up Steam In Oregon
The effort to establish a single-payer system in Oregon isn't dead. A group called Health Care for All Oregon has existed in Oregon for about 20 years, but its corporate identity was passed on to a newly formed group this January, said Dr. Mike Huntington, a Corvallis oncologist who serves as the organization's chair. So far the group includes a board and a coalition of 53 groups – including healthcare organizations, community groups and labor organizations – devoted to educating the public and eventually attempting to pass legislation guaranteeing healthcare for all of Oregon's citizens (McCurdy, 8/30).

The Associated Press: Judge To Rule Soon On Christian Health Ministry
A Christians-only health care ministry will likely learn in the next two weeks whether it will be held in contempt of court for continuing to pay medical bills for Kentuckians. Franklin County Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate said he expects to rule within 10 to 15 days on the contempt motion filed by the Kentucky Department of Insurance against Medi-Share, a Florida-based cost-sharing ministry that helps pay medical bills for churchgoers who pledge to live Christian lives that include no smoking, drinking, using drugs or engaging in sex outside of marriage (Alford, 8/30).

The Associated Press: Governor Opens New State Government Primary Health Care Clinic
(Montana) Gov. Brian Schweitzer promised Thursday at the launch of a new state government employee health clinic that the program will improve care and save money. The governor also issued a longshot request of federal officials to let him import cheaper Canadian drugs for use at the clinic — reviving an issue Schweitzer has championed with no success for more than a decade (Gouras, 8/30).

The Associated Press: NY Grants Get Docs Into Needy Areas
The state Health Department is awarding $2 million to 21 hospitals, health centers, medical practices, and physicians to address the need for qualified health care providers in underserved communities. The grants announced Thursday were awarded under the Doctors Across New York program. The program aims to get doctors into rural and inner-city areas where a shortage of health care providers has been identified (8/31).

Georgia Health News: Public Health Nurses: Vital To Georgia, But All Too Few
The many issues that public health nurses deal with, Miller said, include disaster response, immunizations, infectious diseases, family planning, sexually transmitted diseases, women’s and child health services, and stroke and heart attack prevention. Their work affects entire communities, not just the individuals who use local health department clinics. But public health nurses like Tanner are in severely short supply, according a report released by the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH). Georgia currently has 1,400 public health nurses, said Carole Jakeway, chief nurse and director of the division of district and county operations at DPH. Nearly 20 percent of public health nurse positions are vacant, she said (Avery, 8/30).

St. Louis Beacon: Roosevelt High Opens Area's First Major School-Based Health Clinic
School-based health clinics are relatively new to Missouri, but they have been common for years in many other states, beginning in Massachusetts in 1967. The bay state, which has a "been-there, done-that" reputation when it comes to health reform, has built a system that offers students a range of primary-care and behavioral-health services inside schools. Students don’t have to miss school to see a doctor or make expensive after-school visits to emergency rooms for conditions such as untreated asthma. Officials gathered at Roosevelt High School in St. Louis this morning to mark the opening of one of the few comprehensive school-based health clinics in Missouri (Joiner, 8/30).

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