KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

News Round Up: UniCare Will Drop Health Coverage For Virginians; Hawaii Concerned About Lack Of Physicians

The Washington Post: "About 3,000 Virginians who have health insurance through UniCare, a private insurer, will lose that coverage Jan. 1, a UniCare spokesman said Monday. Most live in Northern Virginia and get their coverage through the individual market, officials said. The termination will affect only health insurance. UniCare life, dental, vision, disability and Medicare coverage will not be affected" A UniCare spokesman said that "the company is leaving the Virginia market because of competitive pressures" (Sun, 6/29).

The Associated Press/Honolulu Star-Advertiser: "Health care leaders from across the state are meeting this week to discuss the worsening shortage of physicians in Hawaii.  … The Hawaii Physician Workforce Assessment concludes that the state has about 20 percent fewer doctors than it should when compared to physician-to-population ratios nationally" (6/28).

The Boston Herald, on state Rep. Charles Murphy's 2009 campaign committee: "Even though he didn't run for re-election, the Burlington Democrat's campaign committee brought in $245,710 in donations. … Drug makers had a strong showing. Representatives from Merck, Abbott and Bristol-Myers Squibb all donated. ... He is behind an effort to repeal Chapter 111N, the state's landmark law that bans drug makers and medical device firms from giving doctors gifts worth $50 or more. The controversial law went into effect one year ago, but the real heart of it doesn't begin beating until later this week." A spokesman for Murphy said the legislator "made the move after hearing from convention planners and restaurant groups. Both groups told him the state's decision to prohibit drug companies from treating doctors and their staffs to fancy dinners is hurting business" (McConville, 6/29).

The Associated Press/Boston Globe: "Rhode Island health officials are expanding an investigation into the distribution of unauthorized birth-control devices" such as "intrauterine devices in women that were not approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration. Health officials say they can't vouch for the devices' effectiveness, but that there's no urgent need for women to have them removed" (6/28).

The Los Angeles Times: "The federal Department of Veterans Affairs has approved $20 million in funding to convert a little-used building at the West Los Angeles VA campus into therapeutic housing for chronically homeless veterans - a plan that has been years in the making. The action was jointly announced Monday by U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), U.S. Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Beverly Hills) and Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. Yaroslavsky said the commitment marked a milestone that 'has been a long time coming'" (Groves, 6/29). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.