A selection of health policy stories from New York, North Carolina, Arkansas, Florida and California.
The Associated Press/Washington Post: N.Y. Fights Reopening Of Hospital Damaged By Sandy, Says Facility Has Long Been Bleeding Money
Officials at the last hospital still closed after Superstorm Sandy are engaged in a nasty public feud with the state Health Department, which says the facility has been bleeding money for years and should merge with its closest competitor if it wants to continue providing health services (7/25).
The Associated Press/New York Times: North Carolina: Abortion Curbs Await Governor's Decision
The state's Republican-led legislature has approved new abortion rules that backers say will make the procedure safer but that critics say aim to restrict the ability of women to have abortions by forcing clinics to close. The State Senate gave final approval on Thursday to a measure empowering the state Department of Health and Human Services to develop rules to regulate abortion clinics based on the same standards as those set for outpatient surgery centers (7/25).
The Associated Press: Legislators Mull Risk To Arkansas Health Centers Funding
Directors of community health centers that serve some of the poorest Arkansans in areas with a dearth of medical providers told legislators Thursday that they oppose a provision in a health care expansion plan that could lower their revenue. The centers provide medical, dental and mental health services mainly to people with no health insurance or limited coverage (7/25).
Health News Florida: FL Near Bottom On Fed Grants
Since the Affordable Care Act was signed, most state governments have made the most of the federal grants flowing from Washington for health-system reform. Not Florida. State agencies in Tallahassee have either not competed for grants or, on occasion, have won them but then given the money back (Gentry, 7/25).
HealthyCal: Laws Expand Birth Control Access
Recent federal and state laws strive to make it easier for women to access birth control in California, but clinics and insurers say that the changes have not increased demand for contraceptives. A state law that took effect earlier this year allows registered nurses to dispense hormonal contraceptives to expand access to women in rural areas, where doctors and nurse practitioners are harder to come by than in urban areas. Federal Affordable Care Act provisions also went into effect in August 2012 requiring private insurers to cover all Federal Drug Administration approved methods of contraception (Flores, 7/25).
California Healthline: 6% Need New Providers In Transition From Healthy Families To Managed Care
That relatively low level of disruption reflects the effort and care the state has shown in implementing this transition, according to Rene Mollow, deputy director of benefits and eligibility at the Department of Health Care Services, which is overseeing the transition. "I believe, unequivocally, that the department has been successful in this transition," Mollow said. … So far, roughly 614,000 children have been shifted to Medi-Cal, and roughly 40,000 of those children have needed to change providers. That's a little more than 6 percent of kids with new providers. According to DHCS numbers, less than 1 percent of transitioned children had to change health plans (Gorn, 7/25).
California Healthline: California Behind National Scope-Of-Practice Curve, Nurse Practitioners Say
Many states, including California, are working on legislation aimed at changing the way nurse practitioners, physician assistants, pharmacists and other providers do their jobs. Many non-physician providers argue they could and should be doing more for patients than state regulations allow. These efforts are not new, but with Affordable Care Act deadlines looming, they're gaining more attention -- and in some cases more momentum. "I think there's growing acceptance that something needs to be done and a lot of states are looking at this now with a new sense of urgency," said Stephen Ferrara, executive director of the Nurse Practitioner Association New York State (Lauer, 7/25).