State Roundup: Calif. GOP Wants Mental Health Gun Audit

A selection of health policy stories from California, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Kansas and Colorado.

Los Angeles Times: Republicans Push Audit On Guns And Mental Health
State lawmakers Wednesday morning will discuss a Republican request for an audit of databases on mentally ill residents and gun ownership. Severe mental health cases are supposed to be reported to law enforcement so disturbed people can be barred from owning guns. However, some GOP lawmakers are concerned that the information may not be relayed consistently (Megerian, 3/13).

Philadelphia Inquirer: Hospital Admissions Continue To Decline
The number of "heads in the beds" remains a key factor in any hospital's financial success, despite the decades-long migration of health-care services to outpatient settings. But last year, the trend of declining inpatient admissions accelerated at many Philadelphia-area hospitals and health systems, according to municipal-bond disclosures analyzed by The Inquirer. A big factor is a surge in short hospital stays -- known as observation cases -- that do not count as full admissions and pay only about a third as much as inpatient admissions. But that's not the only reason, health-care executives said in interviews Wednesday. "Systemwide, we used to admit 28 percent of the patients that would come into the emergency room," said Jack Lynch, chief executive of Main Line Health. "We are down to 21 percent" (Brubaker, 3/14).

North Carolina Health News: Medicaid Director Details Budget Shortfall For Legislators
The state's Medicaid director told legislators Tuesday morning that she's getting a handle on the expenses for the program that covers health care for 1.5 million low-income and disabled North Carolinians, and then went on to outline a projected budget shortfall of between $70 million and $132 million for the fiscal year. Medicaid head Carol Steckel's presentation to the Joint Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services came just days after Gov. Pat McCrory released a memo telling state agency leaders to limit expenses for their departments in order to cover a shortfall in the Medicaid budget (3/14).

Kansas Health Institute: Competing Tax Plans In Play
The parameters of the debate over Gov. Sam Brownback's tax plan are starting to take shape. The Senate is expected today to take up the governor’s proposal, which includes incremental tax cuts and more immediate revenue raising measures aimed at keeping the state budget in the black. Approval of his plan is considered anything but certain despite the fact conservative Republicans generally aligned with him now control the chamber (McLean, 3/14).

Health Policy Solutions (a Colo. news service): The Risks Of Aging In The Closet
Today, as Colorado lawmakers are legalizing civil unions, President Obama has affirmed gay marriage and even the Boy Scouts are considering revisions to decades of discrimination, many gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender seniors remain hidden and, as a result, don’t get the health care they need. A 2011 report from the Institute of Medicine found that far too little is known about the health of LGBT people. And a 2011 study from the University of Washington about health disparities among LGBT seniors found that nearly one-half have a disability, nearly one-third report depression, almost two-thirds say they have been victimized three or more times, 13 percent have been denied health care or believe they received inferior care, 20 percent do not disclose their sexual identity to their physician and one-third do not have a will or durable power of attorney for health care (Kerwin McCrimmon, 3/13).

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from major 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.