A selection of health policy stories from New York, North Carolina, Connecticut, Wisconsin and Colorado.
Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Med Students Switch Gears After Sandy KO's Training Hospitals
After completing a medical rotation in pediatrics, Hannah Kirsch was looking forward to starting another one in psychiatry at New York City's Bellevue Hospital -- but then Hurricane Sandy hit. Kirsch is among about 170 third-year and fourth-year medical students at New York University who were required to change their plans after two of NYU's academic training hospitals, NYU Langone Medical Center and Bellevue, temporarily closed due to extensive flood damage (Tran, 12/17).
Raleigh News And Observer: Doctors Join Hospitals, And Prices Soar
North Carolina patients pay more for many tests and procedures if their physician is employed by a hospital, an investigation by The News & Observer and The Charlotte Observer has found. It’s true whether the health care offered is a heart stress test or a routine visit to a doctor's office. And it's part of a national shift that experts say is raising costs but not quality: Hospitals are increasingly buying doctors' practices, then sending bills for routine services that are significantly higher than those charged by independent doctors. By one count, the percentage of doctors nationally who are employed by hospitals has doubled over the past decade. No similar statistics are available in North Carolina, but it's clear that more and more doctors are affiliating with hospitals (Neff, Alexander, Garloch and Raynor, 12/16).
CT Mirror: State Budget Talks Press On Though There Are No 'Easy Choices'
State officials who toiled behind closed doors last week trying to close a shortfall in the current budget described it as a task like no other in recent history. And while they took comfort Friday afternoon that bipartisan commitment to a solution remained strong, they also conceded that the challenge, at times, has been painstakingly slow. … State law gives the governor limited authority to reduce spending in most agencies by up to 5 percent without obtaining the approval of the legislature. Though the statute exempts municipal aid from the governor's rescissionary authority, other segments of the budget effectively are exempt as well because of contractual obligations or federal rules governing health care programs. Many of the governor's cuts last month affected social services and education. And the plan Malloy offered earlier this month to cover the rest of this year's deficit also included significant cuts in social services (Phaneuf, 12/17).
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Milwaukee County Seeks To Expand Family Care Program To 5 More Counties
Milwaukee County is poised to expand its role operating state Family Care services for older residents and those with disabilities into five additional counties. The expansion plan, which has won initial state approval, would put Milwaukee County's program into competition with a private firm already serving clients in Waukesha, Washington, Walworth, Ozaukee and Sheboygan counties. ... Growing to a regional provider of care services will help ensure the Milwaukee County program survives and thrives in a more competitive environment, said Maria Ledger, director of the Milwaukee County program (Schultze, 12/16).
Health Policy Solutions (a Colo. news service): 'Design Thinking' Offers New Approach To Tackling Childhood Obesity
For organizations and individuals working to address the epidemic of childhood obesity, the biggest challenge is to make it fun. Or at the very least to avoid making it humiliating, frustrating, boring and punitive. "We need to bring back creativity. Creativity is crucial to solving the obesity crisis," said Chris Waugh, director and co-founder of the design innovation consultancy IDEO. Waugh spoke Friday at an event called Symposium Unplugged, sponsored by the Colorado Health Foundation (Carman, 12/14).