KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

State Roundup: Calif. Lawmakers Mull Bill To Tighten Hospital Security

Los Angeles Times: Bill To Tighten Hospital Security Clears California Legislative Panel
A California legislative committee gave preliminary approval Tuesday to a bill that would tighten security at hospitals and increase their requirements for reporting violent acts to the state (Garrison, 3/23). 

The Boston Globe: Patrick Administration Holding Forum On Health Costs
Governor Deval Patrick and his top advisors never seem to get tired of discussing their favorite topic: Out-of-control health care costs. The administration plans to hold a forum on April 5 to discuss cost containment efforts and gather feedback from industry representatives and other groups. "This event will present information on the current state of health care costs in Massachusetts, as well as the initiatives underway to help the Commonwealth contain costs and involve the general public in ongoing health care reforms," said a statement from the governor's office (Kowalczyk, 3/22). 

The New York Times: Women Seeking Abortions In South Dakota To Get Anti-Abortion Advice
A law signed by Gov. Dennis Daugaard on Tuesday makes the state the first to require women who are seeking abortions to first attend a consultation at such "pregnancy help centers," to learn what assistance is available "to help the mother keep and care for her child" (Sulzberger, 3/22).

McClatchy / The Miami Herald: Florida Lawmakers File Glut Of Abortion Bills
Between a conservative Legislature and a more conservative governor, there's a concentrated effort this year to tighten Florida's abortion laws. From reviving a measure to require a woman to receive an ultrasound before undergoing an abortion to a blanket ban that would pose a legal challenge to Roe v. Wade, at least 18 bills are filed (Zink, 3/23). 

Georgia Health News: Rural Health: If You Build It, Will Specialists Come?
When rural Georgians need specialized care for serious conditions such as diabetes or heart failure, they're often faced with limited options and a long drive. ... If a unique partnership between a group of physician-investors and Ty Cobb Healthcare System works out as planned, residents of Hart and Franklin counties may be able to consult endocrinologists, cardiologists, oncologists and other specialized doctors much closer to home. ... Georgia's 2 million rural residents are more likely to suffer from heart disease, obesity, diabetes and cancer than their urban counterparts (Smith, 3/22). 

The Connecticut Mirror: Cardiologists Drop SustiNet Support Over Loss Of Liability Protection
A group of cardiologists and cardiac care associates has pulled its support for the proposed state-run SustiNet health plan. ... In [a] letter, the chapter president, Dr. Neal Lippman, and president-elect, Dr. Gilead Lancaster, said the group was an early supporter of SustiNet, but that they cannot support it since lawmakers removed a provision that would have protected health care providers from liability if they injure a patient covered by the plan while following clinical care guidelines. ... The SustiNet proposal calls for joining state-funded health insurance plans under common management and, later, offering state-run insurance coverage to the public (Levin Becker, 3/22). 

Kansas Health Institute News: Senate Passes Bill Protesting Federal Health Reform Law
The Kansas Senate today tentatively approved a bill that was amended during floor debate to include language protesting the federal health reform law. ... The amendment states that no person, provider or employer can be forced to participate in any health care system or to purchase insurance. Its wording was similar to the proposed amendment to the Kansas Constitution passed by the Kansas House last month. But if House Bill 2182 becomes law, as expected, it would simply be added to Kansas statutes, not enshrined in the state constitution (Cauthon, 3/22). 

The Hill: Consumer Group Rings Alarm As State Insurance Regulators Weigh Broker Protections
The California nonprofit Consumer Watchdog on Tuesday released a new report outlining state regulators' ties to industry. The report coincides with this weekend's spring meeting of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, where regulators are expected to consider legislation that would shield agents and brokers from some of the effects of healthcare reform (Pecquet, 3/22).

Earlier, related Kaiser Health News coverage: Brokers Seek To Preserve Role In Health Insurance Marketplace (Rau and Appleby, 3/16).

The Texas Tribune: Senate Approves Incentive for Out-of-State Doctors
The Senate passed a bill today that would streamline the process of obtaining a medical license in Texas for out-of-state doctors. ... Under the measure, doctors who have held a medical license in another state for at least five years, have never had any disciplinary orders or probation, and agree to practice medicine in an underserved area would be given an indefinite amount of time to complete their licensing certification in Texas (Aaronson, 3/22). 

WBUR's CommonHealth Blog: Docs Willing To Move To Vermont For Single Payer System
More than 200 doctors from 39 states and the District of Columbia say they'd consider moving to Vermont if that state switches to a publicly financed single-payer health care system, according affiliates of Physicians for a National Health Program, an organization of physicians who advocate for single-payer national health insurance. Many of the doctors mulling a move are in primary care, according to the Vermont chapter of the physician's group (Zimmerman, 3/22). 

Modern Healthcare: Iowa Requests Medical Loss-Ratio Waiver
Iowa is the eighth state to request relief from a provision in the federal health reform law that requires insurers to spend most member premiums on medical costs. In a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Susan Voss, Iowa's insurance commissioner, wrote that the rule "may disrupt our individual health insurance market" (Vesely, 3/22).

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