State Roundup: 'Hope' For Texas' Mental Health System

A selection of health policy news from Oregon, Texas, Maryland, California, Georgia and Wisconsin.

The Texas Tribune: New Year Brings Cautious Hope For Mental Health Care
Texas has lagged far behind virtually every other state when it comes to investment in mental health care. But after lawmakers allocated record levels of funding to mental health services during the 2013 legislative session, and with the beginning of expanded mental health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act, advocates say they see new cause for optimism — and still more room for improvement (Walters, 1/2). 

The Associated Press: Down-Home Health Care On The Farm
For years, [Wisconsin dairy farmer Kevn Ainsworth] has received basic care from a unique community program that sends a nurse to farms to check farmers' blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels and screen them for health risks. ... Agriculture and health care advocacy groups had hoped the new federal health care law would improve farmers' situation by allowing them to buy affordable policies that cover preventive care and have lower deductibles. No savings are to be had, say farmers ... That's why Wisconsin's Rural Health Initiative remains valuable (Johnson, 1/1).

The Lund Report [an Oregon news service]: Patient Safety Commission Solicits Advice On Enacting Medical Error Law
The commission is tasked with putting into shape a resolution system for doctors, patients and hospitals by July 1. The confidential process, championed by Gov. Kitzhaber, aims to allow health care providers to come clean about errors while avoiding lawsuits (Gray, 1/1).

The San Jose Mercury News: California's Low Income Health Program Transfers More Than 630,000 To Medi-Cal
Acting under provisions of the new federal health care law, California's Department of Health Care Services on Tuesday said it transferred more than 630,000 Californians from the state's Low Income Health Program to Medi-Cal, the state's health program for the very poor. The new federal law, called the Affordable Care Act and also known as "Obamacare," offered states the ability to expand eligibility for Medicaid, the federal health program for the poor, which is called Medi-Cal in California. The LIHP was established in 2010 through a $10 billion federal grant to help states prepare for the Affordable Care Act (Seipel, 12/31/13). 

Georgia Health News: The Top 10 Health Stories In Georgia For 2013
Georgia health care had more than its share of drama and surprises in 2013. Some of the big stories were linked to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare. This far-reaching federal law, passed in early 2010, was still generating changes and attracting controversy as if it were brand new. But the ACA wasn’t the only hot topic in Georgia health. Issues ranged from drug scares to complex policy disputes and funding battles (Miller, 12/29/13). 

The Baltimore Sun: At Hopkins, Kidney Transplants Occur In Chain Reactions
When John Davis' kidney began failing in January, his girlfriend's mother decided to donate one of her kidneys to help save his life. That the two weren't actually a "match" -- meaning Davis' body would never accept her kidney -- didn't matter. In a groundbreaking program at Johns Hopkins Hospital that is as much about nationwide networking as it is medical innovation, kidney transplants are being arranged not through isolated pairings of patient and donor, but through longer and longer chains of individuals who don't even know each other (Rector and Cohn, 12/31/13).

NPR: 'Good Behavior' More Than A Game To Health Care Plan
Behaving well in elementary school could reduce smoking in later life. At least, that's what Trillium Community Health Plan hopes, and they are putting their money behind it. Danebo Elementary in Eugene, Ore., is one of 50 schools receiving money to teach classes while integrating something called the "Good Behavior Game." ... [The Coalition for Evidence Based Policy] found that by age 13, the game had reduced the number of kids who had started to smoke by 26 percent -- and reduced the number of kids who had started to take hard drugs by more than half (Foden-Vencil, 1/2). 

Los Angeles Times: Oregon Allows Mothers To Take Placentas Home From Hospital
New mothers will now be able to leave Oregon hospitals with two bundles of joy -- one in a car seat, the other in a cooler. The first, of course, is the baby. The second, thanks to one of the more curious laws that went into effect with the new year, is the placenta. Many cultures have long revered the meaty organ, whose chief duty is to provide nourishment and oxygen to the fetus (La Ganga, 12/31/13) 

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.