A selection of health policy stories from California, New York, the District of Columbia, Montana and Missouri.
Los Angeles Times: Country Moves To Trim Retiree Health Care Benefits For New Employees
Los Angeles County supervisors finalized reforms to health benefits for future employees Tuesday, in a move that is projected to save the county as much as $840 million over the next 30 years. Retiree health benefits became a sticking point in contentious labor negotiations last year. Although not technically part of the contract talks, unions objected to the proposal to reduce retiree benefits (Sewell, 6/24).
The New York Times: Shift In Law On Disability And Students Shows Lapses
Fewer than a third of states and territories now comply with federal disability law under a change announced Tuesday in the way the Department of Education evaluates how well public schools educate students with disabilities. Under the old system, nearly three-quarters of states and territories met the standards (rich, 6/24).
The California Health Report: Bill Requires Non-Profit Hospitals to Disclose Spending On Charity Care
California’s more than 200 non-profit hospitals claim billions of dollars in federal and state tax exemptions annually. In exchange for that tax relief, they’re required to offer free and discounted health care for the poor and benefits like free vaccinations or disease prevention programs for their communities. Non-profits don’t distribute earnings to shareholders like for-profit hospitals do and instead plow them back into the organization. But critics argue that in most other ways, non-profit hospitals are more like businesses than charities and don’t deserve the breaks (Urevich, 6/25).
Reuters: Ban On Inmate Sterilizations Moves Forward In California Legislature
A bill to ban sterilization surgeries on inmates in California prisons advanced on Tuesday, days after an audit showed officials failed to follow the state's rules for obtaining consent for the procedures. The bill unanimously passed the assembly health committee on Tuesday as lawmakers scrambled to respond to the audit, which showed that errors were made in obtaining informed consent from 39 women inmates who had their fallopian tubes tied while incarcerated between 2005 and 2011 (Chaussee, 6/24).
The Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire: Effort To Stop Washington’s Yoga Tax Fails
Opponents of the levy, who have styled themselves the “Don’t Tax Wellness Coalition”, have been leading a charge over the past three weeks to remove a proposed 5.75 percent sales tax on gym memberships and fitness classes, one component of a larger effort to expand the city’s sales tax to cover more services (Hackman, 6/24).
Reuters: The State Of Senior Health: It Depends On Your State
What are the best and worst places to stay healthy as you age? For answers, take out a map and follow the Mississippi River from north to south. The healthiest people over 65 are in Minnesota, the sickest in Mississippi. That's among the findings of the America's Health Rankings Senior Report released in May by the United Health Foundation. The report ranks the 50 states by assessing data covering individual behavior, the environment and communities where seniors live, local health policy and clinical care. Minnesota took top honors for the second year in a row, ranking high for everything from the rate of annual dental visits, volunteerism, high percentage of quality nursing-home beds and low percentage of food insecurity. This year's runners-up are Hawaii, New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts (Miller, 6/24).
The Associated Press: Montana To Notify 1.3 Million Of Computer Hacking
Malware was discovered on the health agency's server May 22 after information technology employees noted suspicious activity on it earlier in the month, Montana Chief Information Officer Ron Baldwin said. The server contained names, addresses, birthdates, Social Security numbers and medical records related to health assessments, diagnoses, treatment, prescriptions and insurance (6/24).
St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Medicaid Decision Shows Up In Missouri Personal Income Numbers
Missourians' incomes grew more slowly than the national average during the first quarter, but government transfer payments accounted for all of the gap. That may be because of the Missouri Legislature's decision to opt out of Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. Nationally, the Commerce Department says, Medicaid accounted for $22.3 billion of the $41.1 billion increase in first-quarter transfer receipts (Nicklaus, 6/24).