A selection of health policy stories from Oregon, Connecticut, Kentucky, Texas and California.
Oregonian: Oregon Special Senior Medical Deduction Survives, Albeit Less Generously
Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber and Democrats wanted to do away with it. Oregonian columnist Susan Nielsen opined against it. Even AARP was OK with its demise. But when the smoke cleared this week, the Oregon Legislature merely curtailed it. Beginning this tax year, only seniors age 62 or older can deduct out-of-pocket medical expenses, not their entire households (Hunsberger, 7/12).
Los Angeles Times: Six People Fired From Cedars-Sinai Over Patient Privacy Breaches
Five workers and a student research assistant at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center have been fired over privacy breaches involving patient medical records. Cedars-Sinai officials said in a statement that 14 patient records were "inappropriately accessed" between June 18 and June 24. Six people were fired over the breach: four were employees of community physicians who have medical staff privileges at the hospital, one was a medical assistant employed by Cedars-Sinai, and one was an unpaid student research assistant (Gorman and Sewall, 7/12).
The Lund Report: Workforce Demands Strain Health Care Reform In Ore.
Concern is growing about the pressure Oregon's health care workforce will experience once approximately 1.3 million Oregonians either become eligible for Medicaid or be required to purchase health insurance privately or through Cover Oregon, the state's developing health insurance exchange, when the federal Affordable Care Act is fully implemented in January 2014. "We've got a steam engine coming down the tracks in January 2014," said Dr. Lisa Dodson, chair of the Oregon Healthcare Workforce Committee and director of Oregon Health & Science University's Oregon Area Health Education Centers program (Waldroupe, 7/15).
CT Mirror: Malloy Vetoes Bills Regulating Medical Spas, Noncomplete Agreements
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy vetoed two bills Friday that would have limited the use of noncompete agreements by employers and imposed new standards on "medical spas" providing cosmetic medical procedures. With the two vetoes, Malloy was negating bills passed with the support of trial lawyers and labor lawyers and associations representing dermatologists and plastic surgeons. In his veto messages, the governor said both bills were deficient (Pazniokas, 7/12).
Kaiser Health News: Kentucky's Rush Into Medicaid Managed Care: A Cautionary Tale For Other States
Kaden Stone loves playing baseball, riding his bike and watching Duck Dynasty on TV at his red-brick ranch-style house in rural south central Kentucky. Despite his energy, the tiny boy of eight with a crewcut and missing front tooth can't eat much, the result of congenital bowel problems that have required dozens of surgeries and procedures. He needs PediaSure, says his mother, who was shocked when Kaden's Medicaid managed care plan stopped paying last fall for the expensive nutritional drink, saying it was not "medically necessary" (Bergal, 7/15). Read the story.
The Texas Tribune: Health Care Providers Bracing For Medicaid Enrollment
Under Gov. Rick Perry’s leadership, Texas will not expand Medicaid eligibility to poor adults. But enrollment in the state’s health program for indigent children and the disabled will still swell in 2014 under new rules created by the federal Affordable Care Act (Aaronson, 7/15).
Los Angeles Times: California Prisons Sterilized 148 Women Without Approval, Report Says
Dozens of women in California prisons were sterilized without the required approval of a state medical committee, officials said Friday. Some of the women say they felt coerced to undergo the surgery, and now state lawmakers are calling for an investigation (McGreevy and Willon, 7/13).
The Lund Report: OHSU Receives Higher Medicare Payments Than Other Oregon Hospitals
Sick Oregonians without health insurance regularly receive bills for two to three times what Medicare or private insurers are willing to pay to cover treatment, newly released medical billing data appears to indicate. The data, from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, shows how much hospitals are paid for treating Medicare patients (Sherwood, 7/15).
California Healthline: Workforce Training, Stop-Loss Bills OK'd
The Assembly Committee on Health last week passed SB 20 by Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina), a bill that proposes to repay physician-training loans for doctors who choose to practice in medically underserved areas. "This bill is a modest attempt at [addressing] one of our biggest dilemmas -- not enough staff to care for the existing patients," Hernandez said. … The Assembly Committee on Health last week also approved another Hernandez bill, SB 161, the stop-loss insurance coverage measure. … Stop-loss insurance protects small employers and self-funded health plans from catastrophic losses (Gorn, 7/12).