State Highlights: N.C. Officials Detail Medicaid Personal Info Mishap

A selection of health policy stories from North Carolina, Massachusetts, Florida, Virginia, Wisconsin and California.

The Associated Press: DHHS: Some Officials Knew Of Medicaid Card Misfire
North Carolina health officials have clarified precisely when they first learned that cards with the personal information of nearly 49,000 children receiving Medicaid benefits had been mailed to the wrong addresses. State Department of Health and Human Services spokesman Ricky Diaz told The Associated Press on Friday the agency first learned about the massive privacy breach the prior day. On Saturday, the agency issued a new statement saying some state employees had actually been aware of the issue days earlier (Biesecker, 1/6).

WBUR: 5 Measures To Compare Childbirth At Mass. Hospitals
Childbirth is one of the most important medical events of our lives, if not the most important. We want to make sure our moms and babies get the best possible care. But we often choose that care based solely on reputation or word of mouth. A WBUR data analysis aims to offer more. We've pulled together childbirth quality data that, for the first time, enable pregnant women and their families to compare hospitals across Massachusetts (Bebinger, 1/6).

Health News Florida: Time To Fix Glitch In Pharmacy Law?
After a long delay, the Florida Department of Health wants to fix a gap in the law that made it powerless over out-of-state compounding pharmacies. When tainted injections from New England Compounding Pharmacy caused a fungal meningitis epidemic in 2012, the state discovered it had licensed hundreds of such facilities to send drugs into Florida. It also found that Florida law gave DOH no authority over those located in other states (Gentry, 1/3).

Miami Herald: The State of Medicaid Devices In South Florida Innovation
Kevin W. Smith and his partners split nearly $200 million when they sold Miami-based surgical equipment manufacturer Symbiosis in 1996 to health care heavyweight Johnson & Johnson. Smith and other Symbiosis alumni became independently wealthy the day of the sale. But they're back in the game in a big way (Seemuth, 1/5).

The Washington Post: Left Flank Upset With Va. Gov.-Elect McAuliffe Over Cabinet Appointments
Some of the activists who helped launch Terry McAuliffe to victory in November sound as though they’re not savoring the big win in the Virginia gubernatorial election as much as they are working through the stages of grief. "You just have to move on, accept it," said Katherine Waddell, a Republican who backed McAuliffe (D) largely because of his support for abortion rights. "You believe in the governor and what he said. And you move on" (Vozzella and Weiner, 1/5).

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Sen. Glenn Grothman's Bill Would Exempt E-Cigarettes From Smoking Ban
A state senator wants to ensure people can puff on electronic cigarettes in restaurants, bars and other public places by introducing a bill that would explicitly exempt the products from the state's 31/2-year-old smoking ban. Sen. Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend) said he put forward the bill because he was concerned "busybody public health" officials and interest groups would attempt to limit the use of e-cigarettes. He pointed to New York City's recent decision to include e-cigarettes in its smoking ban as a reason to be worried it could happen here (Marley, 1/3).

California Healthline: Legislature Returns, So Will Some Bills
Several high-profile bills are likely to resurface this session, including expansion of mid-level caregivers' scope of practice and rescission of a Medi-Cal provider rate cut that went into effect last year. … The Legislature in 2011 passed a 10 percent cut in Medi-Cal reimbursements to providers. Phased-in cuts did not start until September 2013 after being held up in court challenges for more than two years. Legislation did pass last session to exempt rural acute-care skilled nursing facilities from the cut, but the bulk of providers in California still are feeling it (Gorn, 1/3).

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