KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Roundup: Abortion Restriction Measure Goes To Kan. Governor’s Desk

A selection of health policy stories from Kansas, California, the District of Columbia, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Washington state.

The Associated Press: Sweeping Anti-Abortion Bill Goes To Kansas Gov.
Kansas legislators gave final passage to a sweeping anti-abortion measure Friday night, sending Gov. Sam Brownback a bill that declares life begins "at fertilization" while blocking tax breaks for abortion providers and banning abortions performed solely because of the baby's sex. ... The measure's language that life begins "at fertilization" had some abortion-rights supporters worrying that it could be used to legally harass providers. Abortion opponents call it a statement of principle and not an outright ban on terminating pregnancies (Hanna, 4/6).

Los Angeles Times: Judge Denies Gov. Jerry Brown's Bid To End Prison Oversight
Lawyers representing about 33,700 California prisoners requiring mental health care contend serious shortfalls in care remain, evidenced by staff shortages in some psychiatric wards, the housing of mentally ill inmates in isolation cells and a climbing prison suicide rate. California presented reports from a team of experts, including one who became Brown's current secretary of corrections, who contend conditions, while imperfect, now meet the minimum adequate care required under the U.S. Constitution and continue to improve (St. John, 4/5).

The Associated Press: Feds Retain Control Of Calif. Prison Mental Health
A federal judge on Friday rejected Gov. Jerry Brown's bid to regain state control of inmates' mental health care, citing systematic failures to reduce prison suicides, provide timely care and hire enough staff. The decision is a blow to the Democratic governor's attempts to end nearly two decades of expensive federal lawsuits that influence nearly every aspect of California's prison system (Thompson, 4/6).

The Washington Post: Two D.C. Hospitals Vie To Establish Costly Cancer Treatment Option
Two of the region’s largest hospital systems are competing to offer a controversial cancer treatment -- joining what critics say is a nationwide medical arms race as hospitals scramble for dominance by investing millions of dollars in technology that has not been proven to be better than cheaper alternatives for some cancers (Sun, 4/7).

MPR News: With Soda Bans, NE Minn. Hospitals Are At Leading Edge Of U.S. Trend
A few months ago Dr. Maria Barrell, a family practice resident in Duluth, Minn., had a patient admitted to the hospital. The woman had recently been diagnosed with diabetes. ... Barrell had had a long talk with the patient about the negative health effects of sugar-sweetened beverages. One 12-ounce can of Mountain Dew, for example, contains almost three tablespoons of sugar. They are linked to obesity and diabetes, cardiovascular problems and a heightened risk of stroke (Kraker, 4/5). 

MPR News: Geography May Be Key In Any Deal For Fairview Health
Merger talks are swirling around Minneapolis-based Fairview Health Services and Sanford Health of North and South Dakota. Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson wants the public to weigh in on the situation at a hearing on Sunday at the Capitol. Meanwhile, the University of Minnesota has just revealed its own offer to acquire Fairview. The fate of Fairview is much ado about location. The urge to merge is strong in the health care sector now with less than a year to go before major provisions of the federal health care overhaul take full effect (Stawicki, 4/5). 

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Wisconsin's Family Care Program Sees Cost Of Caring For Average Person Decline
Something unexpected is happening within a state program for the elderly and disabled -- for three years the cost of caring for the average person in it has fallen rather than risen. The looming choice of whether to expand the Family Care program could be shifted by this ongoing trend, which runs counter to everything the public and policy-makers have been led to expect from health care costs. Overall costs in recent years have risen substantially for Family Care as many more frail elderly or disabled recipients have moved into it (Stein, 4/6). 

The Associated Press: Lavish Medical Benefits For Retirees Imperil Budgets
After this coastal city’s 1979 ladder truck finally broke down a few years ago, firefighters continued their duties by using hand ladders that reach only a couple of stories up. Without the cash to buy a proper replacement truck, Hoquiam officials went to the ballot earlier this year with a levy proposal totaling $1.2 million (Baker, 4/7).

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