A selection of health policy stories from California, Florida, Kansas, New York, Virginia, Maryland, Wisconsin and Minnesota.
Los Angeles Times: Split Decision In No-Bid Contract Suit Against County Health Agency
Both sides are claiming victory in the latest flare-up between Los Angeles County and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. In a March 7 decision, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Luis A. Lavin struck down the foundation's challenge to two county contracts that were awarded without a competitive bidding process. The contracts went to UCLA and St. John's Well Child and Family Center for providing health care and other services to young people living with or at risk for HIV (Brown, 3/11).
The Associated Press/Washington Post: Florida Hospital Settles Medicare Lawsuit
A Florida hospital has agreed to pay $85 million to settle a Medicare fraud whistle-blower lawsuit. Halifax Hospital Medical Center of the Daytona Beach area reached the agreement with federal authorities Monday (3/11).
Kansas Health Institute: Senate OKs Bill Restricting Obamacare Navigators
A bill similar to one struck down recently by a federal judge in Missouri was tentatively approved today by the Kansas Senate. The proposal would create new requirements for Obamacare navigators, including fingerprinting and background checks (Shields, 3/11).
The Associated Press/Wall Street Journal: NY Medicaid Payments Called ‘Excessive’
Federal oversight officials say New York's Medicaid payments for disabled residents have been "excessive," with the federal share $320 million higher than actual costs in 2010. In a report Wednesday, the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says New York's Medicaid reimbursement rates at state-operated residences were more than double the rates at privately operated residences offering the same services (3/12).
The Washington Post: Overlooked After Va. Tech Shooting, Children’s Mental Health Gets Attention
Lawmakers cleared out of Richmond Saturday after largely accomplishing their goals on mental health reform. But they also failed to come to a budget agreement, leaving some differences on mental health funding unresolved, including money for mental health services for children and adolescents (Shin, 3/11).
The Baltimore Sun: Measure To Protect Health Workers Clears Both Chambers
Legislation aimed at reducing acts of violence against health care workers is poised for final passage in Annapolis. Identical bills have passed the House and Senate that would require health care facilities to conduct an annual risk assessment and document all violent workplace incidents (Wheeler, 3/11).
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Senate Passes Bill To Reform Milwaukee County Mental Health Care
A bill to put a board of medical professionals -- instead of politicians -- in charge of Milwaukee County's embattled mental health system won unanimous approval Tuesday in the state Senate. The measure now moves to the Assembly, where it is expected to pass easily next week. It then would go to Gov. Scott Walker for his signature. Walker has likened Milwaukee's system to "a natural disaster" and declared "it's time for dramatic action” (Kissinger, 3/11).
The Star Tribune: Bill Advances To Suspend Licensed Health Professionals Over Behavior
Licensed health care professionals in Minnesota whose behavior presents an imminent risk of harm to their patients could be automatically suspended under a bill passed Tuesday night by a Minnesota House committee. The determination of risk would need to be made by a licensing board or a Health department commissioner, which would have 60 days to investigate and hold a hearing with the health care provider after a suspension. That was one of several proposals included in a bill that was prompted by a series of Star Tribune investigations last fall that found nurses have continued to practice despite criminal histories, including getting caught stealing drugs on the job and harming patients (Stahl, 3/11).