Roundup: W.Va. Gov. Vetoes Abortion Ban; N.Y. Curbs Medical Bill Surprises

A selection of health policy stories from California, Illinois, New York, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Charlestown (W.Va.) Gazette: Tomblin Vetoes 20-Week Abortion Ban 
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin vetoed a bill late Friday that would have banned abortions of fetuses after 20 weeks gestation. The governor called the bill unconstitutional and a "detriment" to women's health (White, 3/28).

The New York Times: New York Curbs Medical Bills Containing Surprises
Every year, thousands of New Yorkers find themselves responsible for a surprise medical bill from a doctor, like an anesthesiologist, who becomes involved in their care but, unbeknown to the patient, is not covered by their insurance. Now a provision in the state budget agreement announced Saturday is intended to protect consumers by requiring that they be given a reasonable amount of notice when an out-of-network doctor will be treating them (Hartocollis, 3/30).

The Wall Street Journal: Bid To Raise Malpractice Cap Gets A Rider
A California law on medical malpractice awards, in place since 1975, puts a $250,000 ceiling on the amount of money that can be given for noneconomic damages. Now, lawyers and some consumer groups are mounting an effort to substantially raise the cap through California's referendum system, but they are coupling it with a popular idea that hospital doctors should undergo routine drug and alcohol testing (Lazo, 3/28).

Chicago Tribune: Cook County Health System Inks $1.8 Billion Contract 
The board running Cook County's public health system on Friday approved a contract worth up to $1.8 billion over five years to manage health care for an estimated 115,000 low-income residents as the county adapts to the federal Affordable Care Act. IlliniCare Health Plan Inc., a division of St. Louis-based Centene Corp. that already manages health care programs for the state of Illinois, was chosen to operate the CountyCare program. Through CountyCare, people receive either Medicaid or insurance subsidies via the Affordable Care Act, which has come to be known as Obamacare (Dardick, 3/29).

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Health Tied To Wealth: Ozaukee Ranks First, Milwaukee Near Bottom
While overall life expectancy in the nation has increased during roughly the past two decades, the increase has been concentrated almost entirely among the one-third of society with the most wealth and the most education. For those with just a high school diploma or less, life expectancy has stayed the same or fallen, according to a report from the Council on Health Care Economics and Policy's annual conference. So not surprisingly, a new study shows that the overall healthiest county in Wisconsin also is one of the richest: Ozaukee. At the same time, the county with the worst health — Menominee — is one of the poorest in the state. And Milwaukee County, with large pockets of poverty, is right behind it (Boulton, 3/30).

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