A selection of health policy stories from California, Massachusetts, North Carolina and Minnesota.
Los Angeles Times: Court Experts Cite 'Serious' Health Care Risks At Corcoran Prison
Medical experts reporting to a federal court monitor say health care at the California state prison at Corcoran poses "an ongoing serious risk of harm to patients" that results in preventable deaths. The report, filed in federal court Monday, finds "serious patient care issues" within the general hospital at the prison, including life-threatening infections caused by unsanitary conditions, nurses who did not check vitals and doctors who repeatedly "cut and paste" the same patient notes (St. John, 7/30).
WBUR: With Higher Cigarette Taxes, Concerns About Smuggling
As of Wednesday, Massachusetts cigarette prices have increased $1 a pack, as part of the transportation finance bill passed by state lawmakers a week ago. Massachusetts now has the second-highest cigarette tax rate in the country -- a fact that's also raising concerns about a spike in cigarette smuggling. … But even if Massachusetts loses money, the tax still has its supporters. Casey Harvell, public policy director for the American Lung Association Massachusetts, says the price hike will encourage 25,000 smokers to quit, and prevent 27,000 children from taking up smoking in the first place (Lepiarz, 7/31).
North Carolina Health News: New Payment Plan Aims To Save N.C. Money For Psychiatric Care
Five years after North Carolina implemented a system in which the state and hospitals work together to provide beds for psychiatric patients, the General Assembly passed legislation this session intended to make that system more efficient. A provision in the state budget sets up a two-tiered system of paying hospitals for their inpatient psychiatric beds (Hoban, 7/31).
MPR News: State Grant Goes To Helping Low Income Latino Families Enroll In SNAP
Low income Latino families will get help signing up for food stamps thanks to a new state grant. The $20,000 grant to Neighborhood House will allow the St. Paul nonprofit to assist Spanish-speaking families who have trouble affording food. State officials say many low-income Latino families who are eligible for food stamps aren't enrolled in the food stamps program, officially called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. Often, people don't know how to sign up for the program, and are hampered by their inability to speak English, said Armando Camacho, president of Neighborhood House (Siple, 7/31).