KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

State Roundup: Calif. Health Care Cuts Attract Opponents

A selection of health policy stories from California, Virginia, Maryland, Georgia, Oregon, Connecticut and North Carolina.

Los Angeles Times: Gov. Brown's Donors Rally Against His Health Care Cuts
In the health care world, there's not a whole lot that insurers, doctors and union workers all agree on. But a new coalition of powerful Capitol players from all three groups is hoping to reverse recent budget cuts, pushed by Gov. Jerry Brown, to those who provide care to the poorest Californians. But doctors, hospital officials and others say the rate cuts could threaten the success of the federal law. They say lower reimbursements for treating poor patients will reduce the number of people who agree to treat Medi-Cal patients (York, 4/23).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: New Federal Health Reform Regs Cut Hours, Pay For 
Some Va Community College Adjunct Faculty
Many adjunct instructors at Virginia's 23 community colleges will see their hours cut starting this summer thanks to Virginia’s response to the new federal health reform law, a change that could cripple or kill livelihoods teachers like Ann Hubbard worked hard to build. The onrushing 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is forcing governments at all levels to scramble to accommodate changes -- some intended, some not -- to public- and private-sector jobs over the next year (4/24).

California Healthline: Autism Families Directed To Regional Centers
Department of Health Care Services director Toby Douglas testified yesterday that some Healthy Families participants will probably lose a type of autism service in the transition to Medi-Cal managed care plans. The service -- applied behavioral analysis -- is still covered by Medi-Cal, Douglas said, but in a different way. Families with an autistic child will need to reapply for the service through the state's regional centers, where eligibility criteria are stiffer. Some children who qualified in Healthy Families may not be eligible under new guidelines, officials said (Gorn, 4/23).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Appeals Court Upholds Md. Doctors Convictions For Implanting Unnecessary Stents
A federal appeals court has upheld the convictions of a Maryland cardiologist who implanted unnecessary heart stents in more than 100 patients. A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday unanimously rejected John McLean's claim that the evidence was insufficient to convict him on six counts of health care fraud. McLean was sentenced to eight years and one month in prison after his November 2011 trial (4/23).

Kaiser Health News: Nurses Fighting State By State For Minimum Staffing Laws
How many nurses does it take to run a hospital? Legislatures in at least seven states and the District of Columbia are trying to answer that question as they debate bills that would require hospitals to have a minimum number of nurses on staff at all times (Schultz, 4/23).

Georgia Health News: List Of ER Wait Times Improves For Some Hospitals
The ER waiting times for some Georgia hospitals have been reduced dramatically on a public federal website, thanks to some updated numbers. Georgia Health News reported earlier this month that data on 11 hospitals showed wildly exaggerated times for ER waits before patients were discharged. Waits for an emergency department patient to see a health care professional were also listed as alarmingly high (Miller, 4/23).

Georgia Health News: New Law, New Awareness On Concussions
Children's Healthcare of Atlanta treated 1,400 children last year for concussions at its emergency rooms and urgent care centers. Meanwhile, the Atlanta health system received 5,000 calls to its hotline fielding queries about possible concussions. Dr. David Marshall, medical director for sports medicine at Children's Healthcare, told GHN on Tuesday that he does not believe the incidence of concussions has jumped, but that public awareness of them "has exploded" (Miller, 4/23). 

The Lund Report: Med Students, Rural Providers Continue To Question Future Of Rural Clerkships
Medical students at Oregon Health & Science University are circulating an online petition asking the school to keep the five-week rural clerkship that has been a required part of OHSU's medical curriculum since 1994 -- but the university's administration maintains it doesn't intend to reduce or eliminate the clerkships, and in fact plans to offer more rural clerkships. So far the petition has gathered 280 signatures from around the state, and it's generated an ongoing discussion about the future of OHSU's rural curriculum (McCurdy, 4/23).  

CT Mirror: Towns Call Dibs On Any April Windfall In State Tax Receipt 
How tight is state revenue? Even the possibility of a small windfall is causing cities and towns to stake a claim. Municipal leaders, who were disappointed last week by the lean town aid package recommended by legislators, called dibs Tuesday on any last-minute revenue bonanza that sometimes is found after the April 15 income tax filing deadline. … The panel did endorse giving some hospitals a small amount back: $15 million per year to bolster payments to hospitals that have lower-than-average costs and where at least 64 percent of patients are covered by Medicare or Medicaid (Phaneuf, 4/23).

North Carolina Health News: Bill Would Reduce Co-Pays On Oral Cancer Drugs
When Amelia Borelli was first diagnosed with a form of leukemia in 2010, for treatment she went the traditional route of having intravenous chemotherapy. But her first chemo treatment landed her in a coma. Borelli, 68, spent the next six months in the hospital and rehab (Hoban, 4/24).

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