KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Texas’ Problem With Prescription Drug Abuse; Vermont’s Plans For Single Payer

Los Angeles Times: UC Regents Seek To Cut Retirees' Pension Eligibility And Health Benefits
University of California regents approved controversial rollbacks in pension and retiree health benefits Monday, including raising the earliest retirement age for future employees to 55, to help plug huge financial gaps in the university's plans (Gordon, 12/14).

Houston Chronicle: More Texans Are Dying From Pill Abuse
Houston remains at the dark heart of the Lone Star State's growing prescription drug abuse problem accounting for a quarter of complaints about doctors' suspect prescriptions and one-sixth of the state's 1,900 annual accidental fatal overdoses, according to a review by the Houston Chronicle (Olsen, 12/13).

The Associated Press: Report Sets Maine's Stage For Health Reforms
Maine has already been involved in innovative efforts to provide affordable health coverage for its residents, making the "leap" to broad coverage easier, according to the report's authors who have been studying the impact of the new federal law for months (Adams, 12/13).

The Associated Press: Failure Of 9/11 Health Bill Could Hurt NY Clinics
The network of health centers providing free medical tests and treatment to 58,000 people exposed to World Trade Center dust faces a less certain future if Congress doesn't pass legislation aimed at helping victims of 9/11's toxic legacy (12/13).

The Boston Globe: Follow-Up Process Lacking In SSI Disability Program
As federal disability aid for poor children increasingly targets the very young, required case reviews to ensure the help is necessary or appropriate have dwindled to an alarming degree (Wen, 12/13). The Boston Globe also has a second related story about the dilemma faced by teens in the SSI promgram. (Wen, 12/14).

Kansas Health Institute News: KC Hospitals Spark Interest Of Federal Officials
When federal officials came to Kansas City recently to talk about their desire to promote innovations in health care, they found a hospital on each side of the state line already blazing trails (Shields, 12/13). 

Health News Florida: WellCare Wins Round In Court
The Florida Supreme Court has rejected an attempt to disqualify Attorney General Bill McCollum from helping decide how much WellCare Health Plans should have to pay to settle a massive fraud investigation. Sean Hellein, a former WellCare accountant whose role as a whistleblower was pivotal in the investigation, sought to bar McCollum's involvement because of WellCare political contributions to the attorney general and the state Republican Party (Saunders, 12/13). 

St. Louis Times-Dispatch/ProPublica: Weak Laws And Lenient Enforcement Plague Missouri's Oversight Of Dangerous Doctors
Patients in Missouri face a double whammy of the state's faulty oversight of dangerous doctors - Missouri law limits the state medical board's authority to disciple them, and the board doesn't fully exercise the rights it does have. These are [the] latest  findings in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's series looking at the lack of information available to patients about the doctors and hospitals that treat them. 'Leniency and secrecy are the rule when it comes to policing Missouri's 22,000 doctors,' the paper wrote (Weise, 12/13).

Stateline: In Vermont, Single-Payer Health Care In A Single State
Congress never really considered a single-payer health plan run by the government. Vermont is planning for one. This isn't some liberal fantasy. Vermont lawmakers are serious. To understand how serious, you only have to look at the resumes of William Hsiao and Jonathan Gruber (Goodman, 12/14).

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