A selection of health policy stories from Maryland, Texas, New York, New Jersey, Colorado, California, Oregon, Florida and Massachusetts.
The Washington Post: Three New Md. Health Laws Offer More Patient Protection
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley signed three laws Thursday that will give more protection for patients. The measures provide more state oversight of cosmetic surgery centers, pharmacies that make sterile medications and staffing agencies that find temporary jobs for health care professionals (Sun, 5/2).
Texas Tribune: Public, Private Hospitals To Negotiate With Dewhurst
Officials from more than a dozen hospital systems -- some private, some public -- will gather at the Capitol with Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst on Friday afternoon to try to iron out a solution to how they are reimbursed for uncompensated care. ... The House version of the budget includes a rider private hospitals support: It calls for the state to fully maintain the Disproportionate Share Hospital program, or DSH, under which the state’s large public hospital systems use local taxpayer dollars to draw down federal matching money to cover indigent care at both public and private hospitals. The Senate version of the budget, preferred by the public hospitals, does not contain such a measure (Ramshaw, 5/2).
Kaiser Health News: Colorado Weighs Reopening A Psychiatric Hospital To Serve The Homeless
Last summer's mass shooting at the movie theatre in Aurora, Colo., led Gov. John Hickenlooper to call for stricter gun control and big new investments in mental health care. Several significant gun bills passed, and a package of mental health reforms are moving forward, but there may not be enough support to win funding for 300 new in-patient psychiatric beds (Whitney, 5/2).
The New York Times: Park Slope Food Co-op Takes Up New Cause: Saving A Hospital
In a letter written "on behalf of the 16,000 members" of the co-op, its general manager, Joseph Holtz, and a member, Dr. Saul Melman, call on Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to "take a leadership role" in developing a plan to save the money-losing hospital, known as LICH, which serves a large swath of food co-op territory from its perch in Cobble Hill in northern Brooklyn (Hartocollis, 5/2).
The Associated Press/Washington Post: NJ Gov. Signs Good Samaritan Bill to Help Overdose Victims; Bon Jovi Says It Will Be Lifesaver
The New Jersey law seeks to assure timely medical treatment for overdose victims by encouraging people to seek help without fear of being arrested for drug possession (5/2).
The Associated Press: CA Prison Mental Health Spends More On Anti-Psychotic Meds Than Other States
California's prison mental health system has been spending far more on anti-psychotic drugs than other states with large prison systems, raising questions about whether patients are receiving proper treatment. While the amount has been decreasing in recent years, anti-psychotics still account for nearly $1 of every $5 spent on pharmaceuticals purchased for the state prison system, according to figures compiled by The Associated Press (Thompson, 5/2).
The Lund Report: Nurse Practitioners And Chiropractors Want More Workers' Comp Patients
People who suffer an injury on the job will get better access to a nurse practitioner or their favored chiropractor under a Senate bill that should become law. Senate Bill 533 extends the time that a nurse practitioner can provide services to an injured worker from 90 days to 180 days; it also allows injured workers to use their regular doctor or chiropractor, even if the provider is not a member of the worker’s assigned managed care organization (Gray, 5/2).
Texas Tribune/KUT News: Bill Would Give Foster Kids a Say in Medication Use (Audio)
Texas lawmakers are weighing a bill that would allow some teenagers in foster care to refuse medication. The legislation comes amid reports that despite recent reforms, rates of psychotropic drug use among Texas foster children remains high (Zaragovia, 5/2).
Health News Florida: Hospital Chain Under SEC Investigation
Fast-growing Health Management Associates has received a subpoena from the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Naples-based hospital company told investors on Thursday. HMA was already under investigation by the Justice Department, a probe announced last summer that allegedly involved emergency room admissions. Now the SEC wants information on the chain's accounting practices. The agency asked for documents related to Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance, the company said in a news release (Gentry, 5/3).
Boston Globe: Beth Israel Deaconess, Cambridge Health To Partner
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a Boston hospital aggressively courting health providers in the suburbs, has formed a partnership with Cambridge Health Alliance, the two hospital systems announced Thursday. The collaboration gives doctors with the Cambridge health system greater bargaining power with health insurance companies and a formal relationship with a major teaching hospital that provides many services they do not, such as advanced cancer care and neurosurgery (Conaboy, 5/3).
California Healthline: Committee Votes To Repeal Medi-Cal Cut
AB 900 would reverse the Medi-Cal provider rate cuts imposed in 2011. Cuts have not been implemented, pending a federal court decision in a lawsuit challenging them. Because of the delay in implementation, providers in California face the prospect of retroactively paying back two years' worth of 10 percent reductions. If the cuts are approved in federal court, the retroactive clawback would amount to 5 percent a year over four years, making the Medi-Cal provider rates dip by 15 percent for four years (Gorn, 5/2).
California Healthline: Reform May Improve Access To Pediatric Specialties
Children with special health care needs in Los Angeles County should not be treated as "small adults," according to pediatric specialists who see health care reform as a golden opportunity to design tailored systems of care for children with complex, chronic and rare health conditions. … More than one million California children age 17 and younger have special health care needs, according to a new policy note from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. California has 1,700 pediatric subspecialists, or one for every 5,454 children age 17 and under, lower than the national average of one to 4,373, according to the report (Stephens, 5/2).
Reuters: Los Angeles Launches Probe Of Alleged 'Patient Dumping' By Nevada
Nevada health officials acknowledged on Thursday that a state-run hospital improperly bused 10 newly discharged psychiatric patients out of the state with deficient plans for their care, while Los Angeles launched a criminal probe into the alleged "patient dumping." Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital has been under fire since last month, after a Sacramento Bee investigative series reported that hospital staff gave as many as 1,500 patients one-way Greyhound bus tickets from Las Vegas to California and 46 other states over the past five years (Cohen, 5/2).