State Highlights: Ore. Nonprofit Hospitals Increase Revenues; Calif. Shift Means Lost Autism Treatment

Oregonian: Oregonian Hospitals' Post-Recession Recovery Comes With Charity Care Drop: Report
A new state report shows the average Oregon hospital more than doubled its margin, or profit, between 2009 and 2011, even as its provision of charity care went down. The findings trace the hospital sector rebound from recessionary lows in 2008, and how expanded Medicaid enrollment in Oregon has helped boost hospitals' bottom line even as many continue to expand to some assessors' dismay (Budnick, 7/5).

Los Angeles Times: An Autism Treatment Lost In California's Shift From Healthy Families
Evan Kim was 2 years old when he was diagnosed as autistic last year, and his parents searched for some way to curb his head-banging tantrums. Using a state-financed health care program for low-income families, they found therapists who could provide a specific kind of autism treatment aimed at analyzing and improving behavior. ... Evan's therapy was a casualty of the state's effort to phase out its Healthy Families insurance program and shift the nearly 900,000 children it covered into Medi-Cal, the broader health care program for the poor. Despite officials' assurances that the transition would not jeopardize services, activists say hundreds of children are losing coverage for applied behavior analysis (Megerian, 7/7).

Boston Globe: Surgical Errors Rise In Mass. Despite New Controls
Errors disclosed to state health officials since 2011 included anesthesia injected into the wrong leg, a guidewire left inside a patient’s vein, and a catheter threaded into a patient who didn’t need one, according to hospital safety leaders. Several of them said the reported number of such incidents is rising as more care shifts to outpatient clinics, procedure rooms, and physicians’ offices, where administrators and caregivers generally have been less vigilant about implementing safety protocols of the sort required in most hospital operating rooms (Kowalczyk, 7/7).

Sacramento Bee: California Midwives Push To Scrap Doctor-Supervision Requirement For Home Births
Tiny, 1-month old Aaliyah slept quietly in a rainbow sling around Adams' neck on a recent morning at the state Capitol. Around her, under a white tent erected against the sweltering July sun, dozens of children who had also been born at home scampered and dozed. Their parents had gathered in Sacramento to support a bill that would loosen restrictions on the midwives who had brought the assembled children into the world. … Midwives say current law does exactly that, denying insurance coverage and creating an untenable relationship with physicians (White, 7/8).

Oregonian: Medical Marijuana Bill Passes Oregon House, Now Goes To Governor
The Oregon House on Saturday passed a bill legalizing medical marijuana retail establishments, moving what has been a booming but legally hazy industry squarely into the mainstream and handing medical marijuana advocates a major victory. House Bill 3460, now headed to Gov. John Kitzhaber’s desk, creates a registry of businesses that sell the medical marijuana (Crombie, 7/6).

Kaiser Health News: A Busy ER Doctor Slows Down To Help Patients Cope With Pain
Alaska Public Radio's Annie Feidt, working in partnership with Kaiser Health News and NPR, reports: "Dr. Linda Smith walks into a room at Providence Alaska Medical Center, ready with a stethoscope and a huge grin. She teases her patient, Dawn Dillard, saying that her spiky hair recently resembled a 'faux hawk.' Dillardfound out she had uterine cancer a year ago. Her oncologist gave her a year to live. The 57-year-old has beaten those odds, but now her kidneys are failing. After the laughs are over, Smith sits down on the edge ofDillard's bed, leans in, and starts talking about a surgical procedure to help her kidneys" (Feidt, 7/5).

The Associated Press: Aging America: Home Repair For Health? Simple Fix-Ups May Keep Low-Income Seniors Independent
Alberta Hough struggles to feed herself a snack, her arms shaking badly from Parkinson's disease. Days earlier, the 84-year-old fell while eating, sliding off her kitchen chair. … Now a major research project will bring handymen, occupational therapists and nurses into the homes of 800 low-income seniors in Baltimore to test if some inexpensive fix-ups and strategies for daily living can keep them independent longer, and save millions in taxpayer dollars spent on nursing home care (Neergaard, 7/8).

Kansas Health Institute: Report: Two-Thirds Of KC Metro Residents Are ‘Medically Vulnerable’
Two-thirds of the residents in the region surrounding the Kansas City metropolitan area are part of at least one medically vulnerable population, according to a report issued this week by the REACH Healthcare Foundation. The "Kansas City Regional Health Assessment Report" is an analysis of data from an 11-county region that includes approximately 2 million residents on both sides of the Missouri-Kansas state line (Sherry, 7/5).

North Carolina Health News: What Regional Differences Mean To Cancer Survivors
Rural cancer patients often have a harder time dealing with a cancer diagnosis … and all of the issues following diagnosis and treatment. New research sheds a light on what it means to them (Hoban, 7/8).

Healthy Cal: Jails Look To ACA To Insure Inmates
When the signature reforms of the Affordable Care Act go into effect on January 1st, millions of Californians will have expanded access to government subsidized health care benefits. Counties, some of which saw their jail populations and health care costs swell since prison reforms took effect in 2011, want to make sure that jail inmates will be among the newly insured (Flynn, 7/7).

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Insurance Exchange Presents Technical Challenges On Tight Deadline
The no-frills space where high-tech wizards are building Minnesota's health insurance exchange looks like a war room for a political campaign. IT consultants work elbow to elbow around computers in a center island. Along one wall, stripes of blue tape and clusters of neon-colored notes demark key dates on the march to an unrelenting Oct. 1 launch date (Crosby, 7/7).

Des Moines Register: Hospitals To Screen All Infants For Heart Defects
All Iowa hospitals soon will be using a special screening to help detect critical congenital heart defects before newborns leave the hospital. Gov. Terry Branstad signed legislation that requires pulse oxi­metry screening into law last month (Villanueva-Whittman, 7/5).

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