State Highlights: Calif. Opens New Prison Mental Health Facility

A selection of health policy news from California, Vermont, Minnesota and Kansas.

The Associated Press: California Opens $24M Prison Mental Health Center
California prison officials are opening a $24 million treatment center for mentally ill inmates as they urge a federal judge to end his oversight of the state's correctional system. The 44,000-square-foot building at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville opened Thursday. It includes rooms where inmates will undergo outpatient therapy, as well as offices for therapists (Thompson, 2/14).

The Associated Press: Vermont Senate Approves Assisted Death Bill
The Vermont Senate on Thursday passed a stripped-down version of a bill that would let doctors help terminally ill patients die, relieving health workers and family members of criminal or civil liability but removing several patient protections that were in the original version of the bill. The final vote was 22-8 (Gram, 2/15).

MPR: Mayo Expansion Bill Eases Past 1st Capitol Hurdle
A bill that would finance redevelopment around the Mayo Clinic's proposed expansion in Rochester is starting to move through the Legislature. The House Jobs and Economic Development Committee approved the measure easily Thursday, but the bill's financing plan is expected to face some much tougher questions soon. Members of the committee spent most of their time praising the bill and the Mayo Clinic's promise to invest in Rochester. Clinic officials again emphasized their promise to spend $3 billion to expand in Minnesota (Scheck, 2/14).

Kansas Health Institute: Effort Underway To Link Safety Net Clinics With Health Information Exchanges
Regional healthcare officials say they are close to hiring a consultant to assist safety net providers establish a computer network aimed at providing better care while reducing costs. Officials with the Regional Health Care Initiative (RHCI) are conducting final interviews with three companies that could help the safety net providers connect to patient-record-sharing networks known as health information exchanges (Sherry, 2/14).

California Healthline: Race, Gender, Age Lead To Disparities In Care
Health care providers from around the state gathered in Sacramento this week to examine disparities in medical care. They started by examining their own treatment of patients. The annual conference of the California Association of Physician Groups took an unusual approach Wednesday to improving care, focusing on possible misconceptions or biased treatment by physicians of some patients. The conference looked at possible disparities in treatment of Muslims or other culturally different patients, bias based on appearance and even bias toward patients who can't be cured (Gorn, 2/15).

California Healthline: What Will Happen With Millions Of 'Residually Uninsured' Californians?
Estimates vary, but the thumbnail breakdown is about one million undocumented immigrants will be ineligible for coverage and another three million will be citizens who, by chance or by choice, won't receive the benefits or subsidies for which they qualify. For lack of a better term, those four million people are referred to as the "residually uninsured" (Gorn 2/14).

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.