State Highlights: Ala. Abortion Law Challenged In Court; NYC Officials Try Again On Soda Restrictions

A selection of health policy stories from North Carolina, Alabama, New York, Georgia, Virginia and Maryland.

The New York Times: Protests In North Carolina Challenge Conservative Shift In State Politics
As the protests have grown, so has the list of causes. At the center is a package of changes to voting rules and a tax reform plan working its way through the legislature that would reduce individual and corporate income taxes and expand the sales tax. Protesters have also rallied against the expansion of school vouchers, cuts to unemployment benefits, the repeal of the Racial Justice Act, efforts to allow hydraulic fracturing and the state's refusal to expand Medicaid benefits as part of President Obama's health care plan (Severson, 6/11).

The New York Times: Alabama: Suit Is Filed to Block Abortion Clinic Law
Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in federal court Tuesday to block a new Alabama law that would force three of the state's five abortion clinics to shut down (Eckholm, 6/12).

Reuters: New York City Lawyers Argue To Bring Back Soda Ban
New York City lawyers tried to convince an appeals court on Tuesday to allow Mayor Michael Bloomberg's ban on large sugary drinks, three months after it was struck down as an illegal overreach of executive power. The law, invalidated a day before it would have taken effect, barred movie theaters, restaurants and other venues from selling sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces. Convenience stores and grocers would not have been affected (Ax, 6/11).

Kaiser Health News: NYC's Answer To Proton Therapy Controversy: One For All
During the recent debate in Washington, D.C. over whether to let to local competing hospital systems build rival proton therapy centers, an interesting question was raised: Why not work together? … It turns out, Selassie is on to something. That's exactly what is happening in New York City (Gold, 6/12).

Georgia Health News: Health IT: Why Ga. Is At The Center Of Data Revolution
The old paper charts are vanishing from medical offices at a rapid rate, being replaced by digitalized records. And Atlanta and Georgia health information technology companies are taking advantage of this transition. Carrollton-based Greenway Medical Technologies, for example, has recently completed an expansion that added 300 jobs, fueled by the growth of its electronic medical records business. Revolutionary changes in how health care payments are made and clinical information is exchanged -- partly sparked by incentives in the Affordable Care Act -- have created an industry boom, says Greg Fulton, a Greenway spokesman (Miller, 6/11). 

Richmond Times-Dispatch: VCU Health Systems Plans Free-Standing Children's Hospital
The Virginia Commonwealth University Health System announced plans Tuesday to pursue building a free-standing children’s hospital governed by a board that includes community representatives and staffed by both VCU and community doctors. The move was praised by Pediatricians Associated to Care for Kids, a group of about 200 community pediatricians who have been working for two years to build support for an independently operated children's hospital (Smith, 6/12).

Baltimore Sun: University Of Maryland Medical Center To Begin Layoffs This Month
The University of Maryland Medical Center will send layoff notices to employees at the end of the month as it looks to cut costs in the wake of federal budget cuts and what it and other state hospitals have called inadequate rate increases. Jeffrey Rivest, president and CEO of the Baltimore hospital, sent an email to managers Tuesday that said individual letters regarding layoffs would be given out June 25, 26 and 27. The number of people who will lose their jobs still is being finalized, said spokeswoman Mary Lynn Carver said. She also said the dates of the layoff notifications could change (Walker, 6/11).

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.