State Roundup: Ore. Considers Rural Doc Loan Repayment

A selection of health policy news from Oregon, Maryland and California.

The Lund Report: Oregon May Bring Back Rural Loan Repayment Program With $4 Million
Oregon would restore $4 million in the next biennium to fund a loan repayment program that assists primary health care providers willing to work in rural areas, under a bill being pushed by Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, D-Beaverton. The program ran for nearly two decades before it was cut in 2009 in the depths of the recession (Gray, 2/12).

The Lund Report: Pharmacists Want To Give Shots To Young Children
If a disease outbreak swept over Oregon like this winter's flu pandemic or the whooping cough epidemic declared in Washington last April, children under 11 could not get shots at pharmacies under current law without a prescription. Senate Bill 167, pushed by the Oregon State Pharmacists Association, would give the state public health director the right to lift that restriction in case of an epidemic (Gray, 2/12).

Baltimore Sun: St. Joseph Medical Center Not Certified By Medicare System
The University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center failed a critical federal inspection and has been unable to collect what is likely millions of dollars in Medicare reimbursements from the federal government since Dec. 1. As part of its takeover of the troubled St. Joseph that day, the University of Maryland voluntarily gave up a certification needed to bill Medicare and applied for a new one. The university health system wanted to disassociate itself from problems the hospital faced under its previous owner, Denver-based Catholic Health Initiatives. A federal inspection days after the acquisition turned up shortcomings at St. Joseph. As a result, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) could not issue what is known as a Medicare provider agreement to St. Joseph. As of Tuesday, it could not be determined why St. Joseph failed the inspection (Walker, 2/12).

California Healthline: New Health Care Bills Introduced
One source of funding for pediatric trauma care could get a boost from a new bill being introduced in the state Senate, according to the author of SB 191, Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima). "Pediatric trauma care is still not widely available in California," Padilla said, referring to the 14 pediatric trauma care centers in the state. "SB 191 would provide essential funding for emergency care and pediatric trauma care throughout California." The pediatric trauma care bill makes permanent a temporary penalty imposed by counties on vehicle code violations, at a rate of $2 for every $10 in fines. That penalty is due to expire at the end of 2013. Padilla wants to eliminate a sunset date and make it permanent (Gorn, 2/13).

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