A selection of state health policy stories from Texas, Missouri, Connecticut and North Carolina.
Stateline: Health Care Cuts From Vaccinations To Research
Sequestration spares Medicaid and almost all of Medicare, but automatic cuts to other federal health-care programs will make it more difficult for low-income Americans to get maternal and infant care, vaccinate their children, and receive treatment for mental illness. The federal government gives states tens of millions of dollars in grant money for health services each year, and all of those programs are subject to sequestration cuts. In addition, Washington will be funneling less public health and research money to states because of automatic cuts to federal agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health (Ollove, 3/11).
The Associated Press: Right-To-Life Groups Split On End-Of-Life Decision
A battle is brewing at the Texas Legislature among right-to-life groups, but rather than debating when life begins, they are fighting over the rules that govern the end of a terminally ill person's life. The dispute revolves around what should happen when the patient's family wants to continue medical treatment when the doctors think it would only prolong the suffering (Tomlinson, 3/10).
Kansas City Star: Missouri Bill Would Let Health Providers Opt Out Of More Reproductive Services
Laws allowing health care workers to refuse to participate in an abortion have been on the books for decades. Missouri legislators, however, don’t think they go far enough. They want to expand those laws to allow medical professionals to opt out of providing birth control, sterilization and assisted reproduction services and stem cell research. They would also be able to deny referrals for care. Under legislation that could come up for a vote in the Missouri House as early as today, health care providers would be shielded from punishment for refusing to provide this type of care if it violates their religious or moral principles (Hancock, 3/10).
CT Mirror: Residents Want Local Approval Power Over Inmate Nursing Home
Feeling duped and fearful of the state's plan to move inmates and mentally ill patients into a former nursing home without zoning approval, Rocky Hill neighbors and town leaders testified Friday for a bill that would require local site approval. Lawmakers representing Rocky Hill proposed the bill to prevent the state from opening similar prison nursing homes in the future. … The state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services and the Department of Corrections plan to place infirm inmates who are near parole and mentally ill patients from the Connecticut Valley Hospital in the 95-bed nursing home. The home is privately owned will be privately run by iCare Inc. of Manchester (Merritt, 3/9).
North Carolina Health News: More Changes, Consolidation To Come In Mental Health System
The future for mental health care services in North Carolina looks like one with fewer agencies managing the dollars and still more upheaval. There are presently 11 managed care organizations delivering mental health, intellectual and developmental disability and substance abuse services around the state (Sisk, 3/8).
North Carolina Health News: Bill Provides Relief For Mentally Ill In Legal Limbo
A bill revived from last year’s session would keep defendants with mental health problems from bouncing between state psychiatric hospitals and county jails while waiting to be tried (Hoban, 3/11).