State Roundup: Texas Hospitals Spar Over Indigent Care Payments

A selection of health policy stories from California, Texas, Kansas, Tennessee, Ohio, Oregon and Massachusetts.

Los Angeles Times: Closure Of Three Southland Hospitals May Be Part Of A Trend
Hospital owner Pacific Health Corp. said it will close its three remaining Southern California hospitals, citing the fallout from a federal fraud case last year in which the company admitted paying to recruit homeless people off skid row in Los Angeles and billing the government for unnecessary care (Terhune, 4/3).

The Texas Tribune: Public, Private Hospitals At Odds Over Budget Rider
Private and public hospitals are at odds over how they should be reimbursed for uncompensated care -- and at the crux of the fight is a budget provision hitting the House floor on Thursday. The budget rider, backed by private hospitals, calls for the state to fully maintain the Disproportionate Share Hospital program, or DSH, under which the state's large public hospital systems use local taxpayer dollars to draw down federal matching money to cover indigent care at both public and private hospitals (Ramshaw, 4/4).

Kansas Health Institute: Controversial Infectious Disease Bill Appears Headed For Passage
House and Senate negotiators appear headed toward approval of a controversial bill that critics fear would make possible quarantining people infected with or exposed to HIV. After the committee debated for a half-hour adding language to the bill that would have explicitly excluded the possibility of HIV quarantine, negotiators asked Kansas State Epidemiologist Charlie Hunt whether further changes to the bill were necessary (Cauthon, 4/3).

USA Today/The Tennessean: Many Meningitis Victims Owe Tens Of Thousands In Bills
Deol is one of dozens of Tennessee residents who face continuing health problems and mounting expenses from a fungal meningitis outbreak more than six months after it began. ... More than a dozen have filed lawsuits, but most have been put on hold because the supplier of the tainted drugs filed for bankruptcy late last year. Billing statements reviewed by The Tennessean for three patients show the amounts charged for treatment and hospitalization ranged from Deol's $66,000 partial bill to nearly $200,000 (Roche, 4/3).

NPR: Lawyers Join Doctors To Ease Patients' Legal Anxieties
Two professions that have traditionally had a rocky relationship -- doctors and lawyers -- are finding some common ground in clinics and hospitals across the country. In Akron, Ohio, for instance, doctors are studying how adding a lawyer to the health care team can help improve a patient's health (St. Clair, 4/4).

Lund Report: Oregon House Votes To Include Insurers In Consumer Fraud Act
Seven years ago, Regence BlueCross BlueShield blithely declared that Azusa Suzuki was dead and refused to honor a supplemental insurance claim after she was injured in a car accident. But on Tuesday, Rep. Brian Clem, D-Salem, was able to bring his mother-in-law to the State Capitol, and like Lazarus, she witnessed the passage of House Bill 3160, which would roll Regence and other insurers under the state's chief consumer fraud protection act (Gray, 4/3).

Boston Globe: Cambridge Health Alliance Latest To Cut Beds For Children With Mental Illness
Cambridge Health Alliance said Wednesday it will eliminate 11 of its 27 beds for treating children and teens with acute mental illness and will end inpatient care for its youngest children as it grapples with financial losses. The hospital system has two highly regarded inpatient units -- one serving adolescents ages 12 to 19 and another for children as young as 3. The two units will be combined into one smaller unit serving patients ages 8 to 18, said Dr. Jay Burke, chief of psychiatry, and the hospital will focus more on providing community-based services (Conaboy, 4/3).

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from more than 300 news organizations. The full summary of the day's news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.