A selection of health policy stories from Maine, North Carolina, Missouri, California, Washington, Kansas and Florida.
The Wall Street Journal: Maine to Allow Prescription-Drug Imports
The hunt for cheaper prescription drugs long has led consumers to reach beyond U.S. borders, but under a Maine law set to take effect Wednesday, their search now will have the state's blessing. The law, the first of its kind, sanctions the direct purchase of mail-order drugs from some foreign pharmacies. It has ignited a court battle with the pharmaceutical industry and set the stage for a broader fight over access to less-costly medication (Levitz and Martin, 10/8).
The Associated Press: Lawmakers Want Quicker Fix To NC Medicaid Billing
North Carolina state lawmakers and medical workers on Tuesday demanded quicker resolution of problems within the state's new Medicaid billing system as complaints mount about overdue claims payments and unhelpful call center workers (Robertson, 10/8).
North Carolina Health News: Audit Edits Eliminated Defense Of Medicaid Program
As last year's audit of the Medicaid program widened in scope, the state auditor critiqued the performance of a highly regarded program that manages low-income patients. Those criticisms stood, uncontested, in the final report (Hoban, 10/9).
The Kansas City Star: Missouri Just Says 'No' To Tracking Drug Prescriptions
The anti-drug movement's slogan used to be "Just say no." Missouri lawmakers have managed to give it a new twist by repeatedly saying no to tracking prescriptions of controlled drugs. Missouri is now the only state in the nation that doesn't have such a system (Bavley, 10/8).
Los Angeles Times: Loyola Marymount Drops Health Coverage For 'Elective' Abortions
Amid a debate about the role of Catholic colleges in a secular society, Loyola Marymount University this week decided to drop staff health insurance coverage for "elective" abortions and instead offer employees a separate, unsubsidized plan to cover those procedures. The move was seen on campus as a compromise between traditionalist alumni and faculty -- who think the university should have nothing to do with abortion -- and a more liberal group who contend LMU should not impose religious doctrine on the large number of non-Catholics it enrolls and employs (Gordon, 10/8).
The Seattle Times: 'Boarding' Mentally Ill Becoming Epidemic In State
Matthew Jones stripped off his clothes, kicked over a trash can and ran into Kirkland’s Juanita Beach Park. He wanted to swim across Lake Washington, find Bill Gates and kill him. Police intercepted the distraught 35-year-old on a dock and brought him to nearby EvergreenHealth hospital, where officials classified him as dangerously mentally ill and ordered he be detained, against his will, to be treated (Rosenthal, 10/8).
Kansas Health Institute: Kansas’ Drug Monitoring Program Credited With Helping Keep Overdoses Low
Kansas has among the lowest rates of drug overdose in the country, likely due in part to its prescription drug monitoring program, according to a new report. Less than 1 per 10,000 Kansans died of overdoses in 2010 -- the majority of which nationwide are from prescription drugs -- ranking eighth lowest among states, according to a report released this week by the non-profit Trust for America’s Health (Cauthon, 10/8).
Miami Herald: University Of Miami Hospital Overbilled Medicare $3.7 Million, Audit Says
The University of Miami Hospital will have to refund $3.7 million to Medicare after a federal audit of the hospital's billing practices found the hospital overbilled in 2009 and 2010, according to a report released Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (Chang, 10/8).
California Healthline: Governor Signs Physical Therapy Bill
The long-standing requirement that patients must get a physician's referral first to receive treatment from a physical therapist was eliminated Monday in a bill signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown (D). Assembly member Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) said his bill, AB 1000, allows patients to get treatment without unnecessary delay. "With this historic compromise, we are putting patients first," Wieckowski said in a statement. The new law allows a patient to see a physical therapist for 12 visits or 45 days before having to go to a physician for an examination (Norberg, 10/8).