A selection of health policy stories from California, Kentucky, Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Missouri.
Sacramento Bee: Loophole In Health Care Law Could Stick Doctors With Tab
A loophole in California's upcoming health care overhaul could be exploited by families gaming the system or responding to hardship in a way that doctors say could leave a pile of unpaid bills. A chain of events would create a two-month period during which a family has medical coverage but no insurer must pay its claims. Nonpayment of premiums for subsidized policies would trigger the oddity: Federal law provides a three-month grace period before cancellation -- but insurers are responsible only for the first month (Sanders, 5/21).
Los Angeles Times: Strike At UC Medical Centers Continues; More Picketing Wednesday
As the afternoon wore on, the number of union members on the picket lines at the University of California medical centers started to thin. But hundreds of workers concerned about staffing levels and pension reforms planned to continue striking throughout the evening. Union spokesman Todd Stenhouse said that the decision to strike was a difficult one for many (Gorman and LaGanga, 5/21).
Sacramento Bee: Thousands Strike At University Of California
As non-emergency surgeries were postponed and fill-in medical technicians were brought in from out of state, thousands of employees walked off the job Tuesday at the UC Davis Medical Center and four other University of California hospitals. The two-day strike, due to end at 4 a.m. Thursday, was billed by the union for nearly 13,000 nursing assistants, pharmacists, operating room scrubs and other workers as a walkout over medical staffing levels and patient safety (Hecht and Lindelof, 5/21).
The Associated Press: N. Ky. Health Department Stops Well-Child Exams
The health department in northern Kentucky says it plans to stop offering well-child visits because Medicaid no longer offers reimbursement for them. Health department spokeswoman Emily Gresham Wherle told The Kentucky Enquirer that the agency will not schedule any new appointments at their locations in Boone, Campbell, Kenton and Grant counties (5/21).
The Texas Tribune: Bill Lets Police Take Guns From Those In Mental Crisis
Police would have new authority to take firearms away from Texans who are in a mental crisis under a bill the House approved on Tuesday that is now headed to Gov. Rick Perry's desk. Senate Bill 1189, by state Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Southside Place, would allow police to confiscate guns from people who are experiencing a mental health crisis if they determine the person is a danger to themselves or others (Grissom, 5/21).
Health News Florida: Leapfrog Group Ranks FL 10th In Safety
Thirty-seven percent of Florida hospitals have received an "A" grade from the Leapfrog Group, a nonprofit organization that grades participating hospitals on their efforts to prevent medical errors, putting the Sunshine State in 10th place. The scoring system is based on 26 safety measures including hand-washing and care of patients with catheters or ventilators, according to the Leapfrog web site. Hospitals are given letter grades based on these scores (Burton and Gentry, 5/21).
North Carolina Health News: On the Road: Wos Takes Medicaid Message To The People
The head of the state's Department of Health and Human Services has received less than a wholehearted reception as she's traveled the state explaining the governor's proposed Medicaid overhaul (Sisk, 5/22).
North Carolina Health News: Senate Gives More Detail On Budget Plan
More details about the Senate's plans for Medicaid and the state's health care budget emerged Monday as senate leaders explained more of their thinking around their budget plans. In meetings with the media and during presentations in appropriations meetings Monday afternoon, senators reiterated several times that Medicaid has become a drag on state spending (Hoban, 5/21).
Tulsa World: House Speaker Won't Save Insure Oklahoma
Oklahoma Speaker of the House T.W. Shannon has pulled the plug on Gov. Mary Fallin's plans to save the Insure Oklahoma program, which provides health care to working poor Oklahomans. As a result, 9,000 people currently getting state and federally subsidized private insurance through the program will be left without coverage (Greene, 5/20).
St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Nixon's Changes At Medicaid Agency Puzzle Health Care Advocates
Questions continued to swirl in the state capital Tuesday about the sudden departure last week of Missouri's Medicaid director, a widely respected physician who had navigated choppy political waters for six years. Health care advocates and legislators said that former Medicaid chief Ian McCaslin was forced out by Gov. Jay Nixon's office. But none could pinpoint why (Young, 5/22).