State Highlights: DOJ Sues Fla. Over Keeping Children In Nursing Homes

A selection of health policy stories from Florida, Connecticut, California, Missouri, Virginia, Oregon, Maryland and North Carolina.

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Justice Dept. Sues Florida, Says State Keeps Disabled Children In Nursing Homes Unnecessarily
The U.S. Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Florida on Monday, accusing the state of unnecessarily institutionalizing about 200 disabled children in nursing homes and cutting services that would allow them to receive care at home (7/22).

CT Mirror: As Hospitals Buy Medical Practices, Patients Face Thousands Of Dollars In New Charges
At first, the $4,000 medical bill didn't worry Susan Ferro. She was certain it was a mistake. … But when Ferro called the doctor's office, she learned it wasn't a mistake. Since her 2010 biopsy, the radiology practice had been bought by Norwalk Hospital. And now, the same procedure, performed in the same place, was being treated differently: For billing purposes, it was considered an [inpatient] procedure, as if she'd been in a hospital. Instead of being covered by her insurance, the bill went to Ferro's deductible, leaving her with the cost. … Ferro's situation is the result of something known as a facility fee, a charge that's likely to become increasingly common as hospitals acquire physician practices or take ownership of the equipment doctors use (Becker, 7/22).

California Healthline: Pediatric Dental Coverage Revisited
How California children get dental coverage in the new health insurance exchange -- an issue discussed and decided last month -- comes back on the table this week and early next month. Covered California directors announced plans for offering pediatric dental coverage in stand-alone and bundled plans in June. Children's advocates and the state insurance commissioner are urging exchange officials to include another option -- dental coverage embedded in medical plans.  The Plan Management advisory committee -- one of three groups offering Covered California advice on setting up the new exchange -- meets today to discuss pediatric dental coverage. The Covered California board of directors scheduled a special session on the issue for Aug. 8 (Lauer, 7/22).

Reuters: Kids With Pediatricians Also Getting Care At Clinics
Even children who have pediatricians sometimes get care from retail medical clinics like the ones in large drugstore chains, according to a survey of parents near St. Louis. Almost a quarter of the parents surveyed while at a pediatrician's office had taken their children to retail health clinics, many saying they found it more convenient than going to their child's regular doctor (Seaman, 7/22).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Va. Guardianship Case Tests Rights Of Adults With Disabilities To Choose Where, How They Live
A guardianship case for a Virginia woman with Down syndrome is testing the rights of adults with disabilities to choose how they live. The Washington Post reports that 29-year-old Margaret Jean "Jenny" Hatch has been fighting for nearly a year for the right to move in with friends who employed her at their thrift shop. Her parents want her to remain in a group home (7/22).

Los Angeles Times: Deputy Director Of State Mental Hospitals Takes Unexplained Leave
Seven days after being confirmed by the state Senate, the official responsible for day-to-day operations at California's mental hospitals and prison-based psychiatric programs has abruptly taken an extended -- and unexplained -- administrative leave with pay. Kathy Gaither, confirmed as deputy director of the fledgling Department of State Hospitals on July 8, will be out of the office for an "extended period of time" because of "unforeseen circumstances," according to a brief email sent to staffers July 15 by the department's acting director, Cliff Allenby (Romney, 7/22).

Richmond Times Dispatch: Bermuda Medical Center Fills Gap In Chesterfield
For residents of Winchester Greens, a mixed-use, mixed-income community in north Chesterfield, health care doesn't get any closer than a few steps away. Capital Area Health Network has opened Bermuda Medical Center, a federally supported health center in the town house and apartment community off Jefferson Davis Highway. … The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is providing billions of dollars for the operation, expansion and construction of health centers to help care for the millions of newly insured Americans who will seek places to get health care once the law’s provisions are fully implemented (Smith, 7/23).

Oregonian: Public Advisors Chart Plan For Portland-Area Oregon Health Plan Organization
Members of the community advisory council to the group Health Share of Oregon will meet in Milwaukie Aug. 2 to elect officers and adopt a strategic plan. The council provides a window into the operations of Health Share, a coordinated care organization serving Oregon Health Plan members in Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties. Members will vote on officers for the advisory council, as well as a strategic plan to address an upcoming benefits expansion for Oregon Health Plan members and other changes (Budnick, 7/22).

Baltimore Sun: Officials Promote Health Insurance Tax Credit To Small Businesses
State and local officials are trying to promote public awareness of a little-known federal tax credit to help small businesses cover some of the costs of providing health insurance to their workers. Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot launched a campaign Monday to encourage small-business owners in Howard County to take advantage of the break (Mirabella, 7/22).

North Carolina Health News: First Look At The Final State HHS Budget
Lawmakers released their compromise state budget late Sunday night, a document that provides for $20.6 billion in state spending over the upcoming year. The 546-page document not only provides the amounts being budgeted for programs this coming year but also sets policies, changes the way departments are organized, cuts and adds jobs and creates new programs in the 71-pages of language that address health and human services (Hoban, 7/22).

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.