A selection of health care policy stories from New York, Alaska, Massachusetts, Texas, California and Georgia.
The New York Times: New Style Of Health Care Emerges To Fill Hospital's Void
The demise of St. Vincent's Hospital in Greenwich Village two years ago has led to a struggle for health care supremacy in some of New York's most distinctive neighborhoods, offering a glimpse, in the process, at what might be the future of urban medicine (Hartocollis, 10/9).
Anchorage Daily News: Judge: Parents Must Be Notified Before Teen's Abortion
An Anchorage Superior Court judge has upheld as constitutional a state law requiring parents to be notified before a teen's abortion. But the issue may not be resolved. Both sides expect it will wind up before the state Supreme Court. Judge John Suddock, in a 65-page decision issued Monday, said the legal requirement does not violate a teenager's right to privacy. Nor, the judge ruled, does it violate provisions to treat people equally even though a pregnant teen generally cannot receive an abortion without her parents' knowing, but could get prenatal care. The law applies to Alaska teenagers age 17 and younger. It says abortion providers must generally inform parents before performing an abortion. Girls can get around the requirement by going to a judge or providing the doctor with notarized statements attesting to abuse at home. Pro-choice advocates say that's a lot to ask of a girl in crisis (Demer, 10/9).
The Boston Globe: Partner's Financial Health Turns On Complex Plans
When Partners HealthCare, the big Boston hospital group, announces its financial results each quarter, what often stands out are not the gains and losses for providing medical services. It’s the investment and debt portfolios. With $7.5 billion in assets under its watch -- more than at most community banks -- Partners feels the swerves of the stock market in a big way. And there's another significant factor in the quarterly swings: a complex hedging strategy on Partners’ debt. Together, these are often the tail that wags the dog (Healy, 10/10).
The Texas Tribune: Lawmakers Discuss Mental Health Challenges For Veterans
Seeing a recent increase in suicides by military veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, Texas lawmakers are looking for ways to address mental health challenges faced by soldiers as they come back to the state. "With so many of our own becoming veterans, it's going to be an ongoing issue," state Rep. Joe Pickett, D-El Paso, said Tuesday at a hearing of the House Defense and Veterans Affairs Committee (Chammah, 10/9).
The Texas Tribune: Joint Task Force Tackles Medicaid Dental Fraud
Through a new joint task force, the Texas attorney general's office and the office of the Inspector General at the Health and Human Services Commission have teamed up to strengthen investigations of fraud and abuse in the state's Medicaid dental program for children. And because the task force allows the agencies to coordinate limited resources, state officials say, the state can advance investigations and recover misused taxpayer funds more quickly (Aaronson, 10/10).
California Healthline: Study: Nurse Ratio Law Has Mixed Results On Quality Of Care
Authors of a new study contend that California's 2004 law mandating minimum nurse-to-patient ratios in hospitals has had mixed results on quality of care for patients. California Nurses Association officials said the study's findings do not support the authors' conclusions. The nurses association was the driving force behind the ratio law and now is lobbying to get other states to adopt similar legislation. The study, "California's Minimum Nurse Staffing Legislation: Results From a Natural Experiment," was published last month in Health Services Research (Lauer, 10/9).
Georgia Health News: Push For Babies' Safe Sleeping Reaches State Capitol
Dr. Evelyn Johnson was overcome by a "sense of emptiness" when she got the call from the coroner about an infant's death. … She told the story of the infant's death at a news conference at the state Capitol on Tuesday. The event was held to promote safe sleeping practices for babies: that they should always sleep alone, on their backs, and in a crib (Miller, 10/9).