KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Virginia Attorney Gen. Approves Stricter Oversight On Abortion Clinics; Indiana Fails To Follow Up Inspection Reports On Nursing Homes

The Washington Post: "Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II has concluded that the state can impose stricter oversight over clinics that perform abortions, a move immediately decried by abortion-rights organizations and others as an attempt to circumvent the General Assembly, which has repeatedly rejected similar measures. Cuccinelli's legal opinion empowers the Board of Health, if it chooses, to require the clinics to meet hospital-type standards. Abortion-rights advocates say that could force some clinics to close because they would be unable to afford to meet the new requirements" (Kumar, 8/24).

The Associated Press: "Certified nursing assistant Brenda Chaney was on duty in an Indiana nursing home one day when she discovered a patient lying on the floor, unable to stand. But Chaney couldn't help the woman up. She had to search for a white aide because the woman had left instructions that she did not want any black caregivers. And the nursing home insisted it was legally bound to honor the request. The episode, which led to a recent federal court ruling that Chaney's civil rights had been violated, has brought to light a little known consequence of the patients' rights movement that swept the nation's health care system over the last two decades. Elderly patients, who won more legal control over their quality of life in nursing homes, sometimes want to dictate the race of those who care for them." Some facilities enforce those preferences (Wilson, 8/23).

Indianapolis Star: "When state health inspectors and police investigated a rape reported at a Marion nursing home in June 2008, what they discovered suggested such an assault could have been prevented. The accused resident was a sex offender on parole. … [But] the attorney general's office decided not to file an official complaint that would trigger a review by the Indiana State Board of Health Facility Administrators. Without that complaint, the board -- the body that licenses and disciplines nursing home administrators -- never even had the opportunity to review the case. In Indiana, that has become the norm. Over the past five years, the Health Department has passed along about 300 inspection reports to the attorney general in accordance with a federal law that says health inspectors must report major problems to licensing officials." Out of those reports, though, the Indianapolis Star found that the attorney general "brought the board a grand total of six complaints" (Gillers and Evans, 8/24). 

Los Angeles Times: "The number of Californians who lost jobs and health insurance probably increased in every county last year, according to a study released Monday by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. The new analysis found that 37 counties -- including Imperial, Kern and Shasta -- had uninsured rates above the statewide average of 24.3%. … The report backs up the findings of a previous study the center released in March that showed nearly one in four Californians lack health insurance. According to the latest estimates, the state's uninsured population has reached 24.3%, or about 8.4 million, up from 6.4 million in 2007" (Hennessy-Fiske, 8/23).

The Associated Press/Bloomberg BusinessWeek: "Uninsured West Virginians with pre-existing conditions face higher costs after the Legislature failed to let the state run a coverage program for them, some health care advocates warn. Those enrolling in the new high-risk pool must pay for $2,500 worth of medical expenses each year before the pool coverage kicks in, because the federal government must now operate the program. They would have paid a $1,000 yearly deductible if the state ran it" (Messina, 8/23).

The Hartford Courant: "Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said Friday he is investigating whether Rite Aid illegally attributed a recent increase in prescription drug prices to a new state law that offers Medicaid the same discounts as other consumers. Blumenthal said other state agencies, including the Department of Social Services and the Department of Consumer Protection, will participate in the investigation" (8/20).

Kansas Health Institute: "The Kansas Insurance Department will use a $1 million federal grant to strengthen the staff and the analytical systems that it uses to review rate increases filed by health insurance companies, according to Commissioner Sandy Praeger. The grant was one of 46 awarded last week by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Affordable Care Act authorizes $250 million over five years to help state insurance regulars strengthen their rate review processes" (McLean, 8/23).

Kansas Health Institute, in a separate story: "The Kansas Farm Bureau and its national counterpart are among the business groups seeking repeal of a tax reporting requirement that was included in the new federal health reform law. But Farm Bureau spokespeople said the quarrel wasn't over health reform per se. … [A] provision in the Affordable Care Act would require annual reporting to the Internal Revenue Service of all business purchases of $600 or more from a single vendor. Farmers and other business people already are required to file 1099 forms when they spend $600 or more on services. … But the health reform law, starting in 2012, would expand the 1099 reporting requirement to also cover the purchase of goods such as seed or fertilizer. The idea behind the provision was that expanding the reporting requirement would give the IRS a stronger tool for cross checking whether businesses were accurately reporting income and paying their fair share of taxes" (Shields, 8/23).

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