State Highlights: Union, Calif. Hospital Assn. At Odds Over Organization, Ballot Issues

A selection of health policy stories from California, Indiana, North Carolina, Florida and Minnesota.

Los Angeles Times: Health Care Union Abusing Initiative Process, Critics Say
Duane Dauner, president of the California Hospital Assn., emailed the group's board in September with a warning: The leader of the state's largest health care workers' union had told him that if hospitals did not pave the way for the organizing of 20,000 workers, the union would launch ballot measures taking aim at hospital pricing and executive pay. But negotiations on organizing agreements between the two sides stalled. In November, the union, SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West, filed two initiatives for the 2014 ballot that would limit hospital prices and cap executive compensation at nonprofit hospitals (Mason, 12/6). 

The Associated Press: Indiana Hospital Cuts Create Uncertain Future For Nurses
Recent staffing cuts at hospitals in Indiana and around the country are forcing nurses and other health workers to shift the focus of their job searches and leaving them wondering about their futures (12/8).

The Associated Press: Scope Of N.C. Medicaid Overhaul Proposal Changes
Several months ago, Gov. Pat McCrory's administration proposed a dramatic overhaul of what he's repeatedly called a "broken" Medicaid system -- one beset annually by hundreds of millions of dollars in shortfalls (Robertson, 12/8).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Does Knowing Medical Prices Save Money? CalPERS Experiment Says Yes
In an effort to raise awareness and rein in what can seem like the Wild West of health care, the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS), the second largest benefits program in the country, and Anthem Blue Cross started a 'reference pricing' initiative in 2011. The initiative involved a system to guide their enrollees to choose facilities where routine hip and knee replacement procedures cost less than $30,000 (Rao, 12/6).

Health News Florida: Record Fees Going Up
Patients and their lawyers face a potentially steep increase in the cost of obtaining copies of their medical records following action by the Florida Board of Medicine on Friday. The board, meeting in Orlando, voted unanimously to raise the cap on charges for copying to $1 a page "or actual cost," whichever is less. It makes no difference whether the copies are paper or electronic (Gentry, 12/6).

Fox News: States Restore, Add To Mental Health Spending As Sandy Hook Anniversary Nears
Though Congress has done little to increase spending or enact laws to improve mental-health care after the 2012 Sandy Hook school shootings, dozens of states have increased or restored such funding. States struggling to make ends meet during the recent recession cut more than $4 billion from their mental-health budgets from 2009 through 2012. Now with the one-year anniversary of the Dec. 14, 2012, Sandy Hook elementary school shootings just days away, a new report shows at least 37 states have increased spending on mental health programs (12/8).

Minnesota Public Radio: 'Dental Therapy' Takes Root Where Dentists Are Scarce In Minnesota 
A new, mid-level dental profession is slowly taking root in Minnesota. Over the past two years universities have trained, and the state has licensed, 28 dental therapists, practitioners who perform many basic dental procedures that previously only a dentist would do. They work in places where dentists won't go, or are unwilling to accept Medicaid coverage (Benson, 12/9).

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from major 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.