A selection of health policy stories from New York, Texas, New Mexico, North Carolina, Wisconsin and Oregon.
Stateline: States Missing Out On Millions In Medicaid For Prisoners
Only a dozen states have taken advantage of a long-standing option to stick the federal government with at least half the cost of hospitalizations and nursing home stays of state prison inmates. The other states have left tens of millions of federal dollars on the table, either because they didn't know about a federal rule dating to 1997 or they were unable to write the laws and administrative processes to take advantage of it. States and localities have a constitutional obligation to provide adequate health care to prisoners, and they must pay for it out of their own budgets (Vestal, 6/25).
The Wall Street Journal: Hospital in Long Beach Remains Closed Since Sandy
Long Beach has sputtered back to life in recent weeks, as crowds once again stream to its shores, but the Long Island community's hospital remains closed almost eight months after it sustained $20 million of damage from superstorm Sandy (Dawsey, 6/24).
Texas Tribune: Interactive: The Impact of Proposed Abortion Restrictions
Senate Bill 5 -- the omnibus abortion legislation that Republican lawmakers are racing to approve before the special session ends Tuesday night -- has been labeled as among the strictest abortion regulations in the country. This interactive shows which of the 42 abortion facilities in Texas would meet the stricter regulatory standards in SB 5 (Aaronson, Murphy and Luthra, 6/25).
The Associated Press: Audit Shows NM Mental Health Companies Overbilled
Fifteen New Mexico providers of mental health and substance abuse services failed to meet standards, overbilled the federal and state government by tens of millions of dollars, and may have taken part in fraudulent activities, according to a new state audit released Monday (Ramirez and Contreras, 6/24).
North Carolina Health News: Group Homes Provide Support, Keep Mentally Ill From Hospital
People with mental illness who live in group homes are anxiously waiting on lawmakers to decide about funding for their facilities for the coming year. Advocates plan to rally Tuesday in front of the General Assembly to make sure their needs are addressed in the state budget (Hoban, 6/24).
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: State 2nd Worst In Poor Kids' Dental Care
Only one state in the nation has a worse track record than Wisconsin for providing dental care for low-income children, a report released Tuesday by Pew Charitable Trusts says. In Wisconsin, 71.5 percent of Medicaid-enrolled kids did not see a dentist in 2011 -- second only to Florida, where three-fourths of Medicaid-enrolled kids didn't get dental care that year. … Nationwide, more than 14 million low-income children didn't have dental care, according to the Pew report. Lack of access to dental care for low-income families is one of the most entrenched, widespread and overlooked problems in the U.S. health care system (Herzog, 6/25).
Oregonian: Oregon Faces Critical Dentist Shortage, Report Shows
Oregon suffers from one of the most severe dentist shortages in the country, according to data released today. A Pew Research Center report to be released Tuesday reveals that approximately 17 percent of Oregonians live in a dentist shortage area and therefore likely won't receive adequate dental care. Oregon ranks 10th worst in the nation for dentist shortages. The report attributes the worsening coverage gap – which would require 6,000 new dentists to bridge – to an unequal distribution of dentists across the country that leaves rural areas neglected (Karlamangia, 6/24).
Health Policy Solutions (a Colo news service)/I-News Network: Law Requiring Physical Activity In Schools A Bust
A 2011 state law requiring 30 minutes of physical activity a day for elementary students was supposed to provide a new tool in the fight against childhood obesity – but in reality it did little more than reinforce the status quo, an I-News examination found. The measure was so gutted during the legislative process that it has meant virtually no meaningful changes in the way elementary schools are operated. The standard imposed by the law, which allows recess to count as physical activity time, was already being met by districts across the state. Two years later, the school day looks exactly the same for students across the state as it did before the law was passed (Vaughan, 6/24).
California Healthline: Senate Report Examines Goals For Alzheimer’s Care
Alzheimer's is an "impending public health crisis" in California and needs immediate and continued state attention, according to a new report from the California Senate Office of Research. The statewide focus on Alzheimer's disease began in earnest two years ago, according to the report released last week. "The year 2011 was significant for Alzheimer’s disease, as the first baby boomers turned 65 years old," the report said. That was the year California unveiled its action plan for the 2011–2021 decade, and when the National Alzheimer’s Project Act was signed into law (Gorn, 6/24).