State Roundup: Ga. Considers Novel Malpractice Reform

A selection of health policy news from Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Georgia, Connecticut, Texas, Kansas and California.

WBUR/Kaiser Health News: Mass. Weighs Governor's Plan To Tax Candy And Soda
Are candy and soda food? In Massachusetts, candy and soda are considered food and are exempt from the state's 6.25 percent sales tax. But Gov. Deval Patrick wants to change that. He's proposing that the legislature tax every bag of M&M's and bottle of Pepsi bought in the state (Bebinger, 3/1).

The Associated Press: NH Health Group Oppose Higher Smoker Premiums
Several health advocacy groups are opposing a bill aimed at bringing New Hampshire's insurance laws in line with President Barack Obama's health overhaul plan because they disagree with a provision that would allow insurers to charge smokers thousands of dollars more for coverage. State law already allows insurers to make tobacco use a factor in setting rates for individual insurance plans (Ramer, 2/28).

Georgia Health News: Two Malpractice Bills Stir Passions Under Dome
Proposed changes to Georgia's medical malpractice system consumed a marathon Senate committee hearing Wednesday, as nursing home representatives, physicians, lawyers and patient advocates battled over two bills breaking late in the General Assembly session. The first bill would promote the signing of voluntary agreements that would send nursing home patients' injury claims to arbitration. The second bill proposes a novel type of tort reform that would shift the process of pursuing injury claims to a system modeled after workers' compensation. Both pieces of legislation are nearing a de facto deadline. A bill must pass at least one chamber by Crossover Day -- expected to be Thursday -- in order to have a shot at becoming law (Miller, 2/28).

CT Mirror: Hospitals Warn Budget Cuts Will Cut Jobs And Services -- Maybe Close Doors
For Connecticut hospitals, the good news is their patient caseloads have grown dramatically since 2009. The bad news is those are Medicaid patients, and government payments don't cover the full cost of treatment. And then there's really bad news: Gov. Dannel P. Malloy would cut their state funding by one-fifth over the next two years. Put it all together, hospitals say, and at best, they will cut jobs and services. At worst, some will shut their doors. And facilities in the state's poor northeastern corner say they are particularly at risk (Phaneuf and Gambina, 3/1).

The Texas Tribune: TribLive: A Conversation About Health Care
Full video of Emily Ramshaw's 2/27 TribLive conversation about health care with state Rep. John Zerwas, R-Simonton, and state Sen. Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown (Smith, 2/28).

Kansas Health Institute: House Approves Six Health Bills, Four More Up Before Friday Deadline
Six health-related bills were approved today by the state House (Cauthon, 2/28).

California Healthline: School-Based Wellness Centers Making The Grade In Los Angeles
Timing may be just right for 14 wellness centers and networks that will operate in Los Angeles schools by 2014, all offering prevention, education, early intervention, and screening to students and their families. L.A.'s school-based clinics, planned before the Affordable Care Act took effect, dovetail with reforms spelled out in the new law and take the idea of school-based health care one step further by teaming up with community clinic and mental health providers who will work not only with students, but with family members as well (Stephens, 2/28).

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.