State Highlights: Texas Immigrant Surge Brings Health Crisis

A selection of health policy stories from California, Texas, Ohio, Maryland, North Carolina, Kansas and Massachusetts.

Los Angeles Times: Automated Defibrillators Not Required In Big-Box Stores, Justices Rule
Large stores in California need not keep automated external defibrillators for customers who suffer heart attacks, the California Supreme Court decided. In a unanimous ruling Monday, the state's highest court said California law requires only that fitness centers have such potentially life-saving devices and encourages most public buildings to keep them (Dolan, 6/23). 

Reuters: California’s Top Court Says Target Not Required To Carry In-Store Defibrillators
California's top court on Monday unanimously ruled that large retailers are not required to provide automated external defibrillators (AEDs) inside their stores, deciding in favor of Target Corp in a wrongful death lawsuit brought after a shopper's sudden death. The Supreme Court in California dismissed the argument that the U.S. retailer fell under a state health code statute that requires gyms and other "health studios" to make available the life-saving machines (Chaussee, 6/24).

Texas Tribune: Health Officials: Immigrant Surge Is A Medical Crisis
As the state's top elected officials debate how to halt a recent surge of immigrants -- many of them unaccompanied minors -- across the Texas-Mexico border, health officials and volunteer doctors are voicing concerns over what they say is the more serious challenge: a looming medical crisis. During a recent visit to two detention centers that house undocumented migrant children, officials with the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) reported that conditions there posed a high risk for infectious disease outbreaks. Meanwhile, doctors providing medical care for immigrants being released by U.S. Border Patrol ahead of their court dates say those recent detainees were not appropriately screened or treated for illness while in federal custody (Ura, 6/24).

Kaiser Health News: Ohio Amish Reconsider Vaccines Amid Measles Outbreak
The Amish countryside in central Ohio looks like it has for a hundred years. There are picturesque pastures with cows and sheep, and big red barns dot the landscape. But something changed here when, on an April afternoon, an Amish woman walked to a communal call box. She called the Knox County Health Department and told a county worker that she and a family next door had the measles (Tribble, 6/24).

Baltimore Sun: People’s Health Clinics Attempt To Stave Off Closure
Officials with the financially troubled People's Community Health Centers say they are trying to keep their doors open -- even as other clinics are preparing to absorb their patients. At a small midday rally Monday in Brooklyn Park, Dr. Carlos Zigel, president of the organization's board of directors, said the nonprofit hasn't given up trying to save its five clinics, which serve some 11,000 low-income residents in Baltimore City and Anne Arundel County. The federal Health Resources and Services Administration provides $2.4 million a year to People's to provide care for uninsured patients. HRSA spokesman Mark Kramer said Monday the agency is "still working" with People's and that grant funding remains in place (Wood, 6/23).

Baltimore Sun: Social Services Agency Pairing With Nursing Center For Low-Cost Triage Care
He moved to Baltimore to take a job as a property manager, but when the company he worked for collapsed, Ganesh Boodram said, he found himself living in the streets. Homelessness was cruel to the Boston native. He was hit by a car, shattering a shoulder. Despite his skills as a handyman, few would hire him. He rarely got to see his grown daughters. Things got so bad not long ago, he said, he decided to take his own life. Then he walked into a small health center in Southwest Baltimore (Pitts, 6/22).

North Carolina Health News: Stronger Oversight Of Prescription Pain Pills Recommended 
Say you go to the dentist and need to have a root canal. As you leave, the dentist writes a prescription for a opioid pain reliever such as Vicodin or Percocet. When you arrive at the pharmacist to fill your prescription, what you probably don’t know is that your name and prescription information will be entered into a database of people in North Carolina who receive controlled substances. Doctors are encouraged to check the database before writing a prescription; pharmacists are supposed to check it to see that the medications they’re distributing haven’t been given too often to a specific person. A group of senators at the NC General Assembly wants to see better use of the state’s controlled substance database as a way to reduce opiate abuse (Hoban, 6/24).

Kansas Health Institute News Service: Kansas Changes Process For Nursing Home Inspection Reports
The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services is changing the way it shares its reports on nursing home conditions with the public. The new system, officials say, will make the reports more accurate and more accessible. But for a group that supports nursing home residents and their families, the changes will make it harder to know which homes are the subjects of complaints and investigations of substandard care (Ranney, 6/23).

The Boston Globe: A Transformative Change
The state’s public insurance program for low-income residents announced Friday that it plans to revoke a longstanding exclusion for gender reassignment surgery that placed it in a category of “experimental, unproven, or otherwise medically unnecessary procedures or treatments.” The administration of Governor Deval Patrick has directed MassHealth to provide coverage for hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgery, and the administration said it will recommend similar changes to the Group Insurance Commission, which provides coverage for thousands of state and municipal employees and their dependents (Fox, 6/23). 

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