A selection of health policy stories from California, Colorado, Florida, Arizona, Virginia, Maryland and Massachusetts.
Los Angeles Times: Backers Of Malpractice Cap Ballot Measure Submit Signatures
Proponents of a measure to raise the cap on some medical malpractice damages submitted signatures Monday afternoon to qualify for the November ballot, paving the way for a costly initiative fight. The measure would change a 1975 California law that has limited pain and suffering damages in malpractice cases to $250,000 (Mason, 3/24).
Health News Colorado: Governor Supports Immunizations As Bill Advances
A bill that would make it tougher for parents to skip immunizations passed Colorado’s House today. Gov. John Hickenlooper stopped short of endorsing the precise language in House Bill 14-1288, but signaled strong support for vaccines. “I support finding ways to get more kids immunized,” Hickenlooper said during a press conference to unveil the 2014 Kids Count report. Hickenlooper said myths that vaccinations cause autism are still prevalent among parents even though “every scientific study seems to disprove that” (McCrimmon, 3/24).
The Associated Press: Bill Aims To Close Fla. Cash-Only Clinic Loophole
Cash-only medical clinics are allowed to skirt the licensing and regulation most other clinics are subject to, a loophole that a Florida lawmaker contends allows some of them to dispense drugs illicitly. State Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, addresses the secrecy in these clinics, which don't accept Medicare or insurance payments, in a measure that sailed through the Senate Committee on Criminal Justice on Monday (Miller, 3/24).
The Arizona Republic: Phoenix Ambulance-Ride Cost: $860
Being transported in an ambulance in Phoenix costs an average of $860, the Fire Department said. While that may appear expensive, officials said the rate has remained relatively steady over the past several years, and charges are higher in rural areas and in Tucson. The rate for the Tucson Fire Department, for example, is $1,105 for advanced life-support service. The average ground ambulance bill includes treatment, fuel, mileage and supplies for both basic and advanced life support. Rates are regulated by the Arizona Department of Health Services (Pineda, 3/24).
Bloomberg: Cigarette Smuggling Increase Prompts Crackdown By States
Higher cigarette taxes are prompting a burgeoning smuggling trade along routes such as I-95 on the East Coast, and states are trying to stem the flood of illegal smokes to fight crime and regain lost revenue. Lawmakers in Virginia and Maryland passed bills boosting the penalties on smuggling in the past year, and the Massachusetts Commission on Illegal Tobacco released a report March 1 with recommendations to crack down on trafficking (Niquette and Deprez, 3/24).