State Roundup: NYC Firms Will Be Required To Offer Sick Leave; Fla. Part-Timers To Get Health Coverage

The latest developments in health policy from California, Florida, Maryland, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Texas and Wisconsin.

The New York Times: Deal Reached To Force Paid Sick Leave In New York City
New York is poised to mandate that companies with 15 or more employees provide paid time off for them when they are sick. A compromise agreement reached Thursday night resulted from a raw display of political muscle by a coalition of labor unions and liberal activists who overcame fierce objections from New York’s business-minded mayor, Michael R. Bloomberg, and his allies in the corporate world (Barbaro and Grynbaum, 3/28).

The Associated Press: Panel Backs Health Coverage For Part-Time Workers
A Florida House panel approved a measure Thursday to offer health insurance to the 8,737 of the state's part-time employees and their family members instead of paying a hefty fine under the federal health overhaul. The panel could have decided to cap part-time employees to working 30 hours per week or chosen not to provide any health coverage, which would result in a $318 million fine under the Affordable Care Act (Kennedy, 3/28).

The Associated Press/Wall Street Journal: Soda Appeal Filed
New York City asked appeals judges to reinstate a ban on supersized sodas and other sugary drinks, which was struck down by a Manhattan judge the day before it was to go into effect. The city had vowed an appeal and said Thursday that lawyers had filed it late Monday (3/28).

The Associated Press: Missouri House Seeks To Limit Medical Liability
The Missouri House pushed Thursday to reinstate a cap on certain damages in medical malpractice cases that the state Supreme Court struck down last summer. Doctors say the cap helps control malpractice insurance premiums and warned that unlimited economic damages for issues such as pain and suffering would harm the availability and affordability of health care in Missouri. Opponents of the damages cap said it prevents juries from determining in each case what an injured person should receive (Blank, 3/28).

Baltimore Sun: Proposed Law Would Govern Surrogate Birth
When Whitney Watts of Columbia agreed to bear twins on behalf of an infertile Boston couple two years ago, she entered a murky area of Maryland law. Nothing forbade her from signing a contract to carry babies conceived through in vitro fertilization and implanted in her uterus. But neither were there guarantees that Maryland courts would enforce the contract if something went wrong. To this day, such questions are left up to individual judges (Dresser, 3/28).

California Healthline: Douglas Updates Legislators on Health System Changes
[Department of Health Care Services Director Toby] Douglas has been at the center of many large-scale changes over the past few years in the state's health care system. At an Assembly hearing last week, he updated legislators on several projects and explained what his department hopes to accomplish in the near future (Gorn, 3/28).

The Texas Tribune: Legislature To Mull Mental Health Training For Teachers
State Sen. Bob Deuell, R-Greenville, has filed legislation that would encourage Texas educators to learn how to help the state's estimated 1 million public school students struggling with mental illnesses (Zaragovia, 3/29).

Health News Florida: If You Know Someone In Universal …
Nearly half of Universal Health Care customers -- those enrolled in a Medicare plan -- need to act immediately if they want to protect themselves from the possibility of unexpected expenses next month. If they switch plans by Sunday, March 31, they will be fully covered under their new plan as of Monday, April 1. If they don't, the federal government will automatically enroll them in traditional Medicare (Gentry, 3/28).

North Carolina Health News: Bill Could Trim BCBSNC’s Ability To Dominate Market
With more than 70 percent of the private health insurance customers in North Carolina, Blue Cross and Blue Shield is the 800-pound gorilla in the state's health insurance market. But a bipartisan bill that easily passed votes in the House Judiciary committee and on the floor of the House of Representatives this week could cause that gorilla to shed some of its weight. House Bill 247 would prohibit any insurer from adding clauses to contracts requiring that doctors and hospitals charge all competitors equal or higher prices, so-called “most favored nation” clauses (Hoban, 3/29).

HealthyCal: Home Care Workers Are In Demand, But Still Struggling To Make Ends Meet
As the US population ages in record numbers, home care workers are becoming part of an increasingly in-demand market. They make an independent life possible for thousands of seniors and people with disabilities, but in the Central Valley and elsewhere across California and the US, they’re barely scraping by themselves. Many seniors are choosing to stay in their homes for as long as possible, and employing a home care worker – or two – is one way to make this arrangement work (Underwood, 3/28).

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Scott Walker Budget Could Create Deficit In Next Biennium
Gov. Scott Walker's 2013-'15 budget bill would leave the state with a potential shortfall of $664 million for the following two-year budget, a new report shows. The memo from the Legislature's nonpartisan budget office shows the state's finances would take a big swing from the current budget, which according to the method used in the memo will leave a $146 million surplus going forward. But the Legislative Fiscal Bureau still pegs the potential shortfall at the second-lowest level since 1997. The impact of these budget figures could fall on everyone from taxpayers to students and those in need of government-funded health care (Stein, 3/28).

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.