KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

State Highlights: Calif. Health Care Companies Deal With Data Breaches; Nevada Faces ‘Patient Dumping’ Lawsuit

A selection of health policy stories from California, Georgia, Massachusetts, Nevada and Oregon.

The Washington Post: State Budgets Are On The Mend
In addition, while states are budgeting for modest increases in Medicaid spending next year, those expenditures are poised to increase in future years, he said. Health care costs are rising at a slower rate than in the past, but it is unclear how long that will last (Fletcher, 6/12).

The Wall Street Journal's CIO Journal: Rash Of Data Breaches Strikes California Health Care Companies
California health care companies have reported a rash of data breaches, exposing information that included the medical conditions and treatments of patients. The state's hospitals, medical vendors and health insurers have reported at least eight breaches of customer data since the start of the year, according to records maintained by the state's attorney general. It's not known if that number is rising, as the state only began tracking data breaches last year. But many of the cases showed providers failed to take basic precautions to protect patient data, like encrypting health information stored on hardware. For example, in several cases patient records were stolen when health care workers left unencrypted laptops, containing patient data, in cars (Schectman, 6/12).

The Associated Press: U.S. Rights Group Backs Psychiatric Patient In Federal 'Patient Dumping' Lawsuit
A U.S. psychiatric patient has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit accusing Nevada officials of giving him a one-way bus ticket to neighboring California, where he arrived without money and identification in a city where he didn't know anyone and had never been (6/13).

Georgia Health News: Steering Patients Away From Needless ER Visits
When Alvin Dye Jr. of Athens has a health problem, and over-the-counter treatments don't help, he doesn't make an appointment with a doctor. He heads for the nearest hospital emergency room. "A regular doctor visit for me was probably about 10 years ago," says Dye, 35. Dye isn't the only uninsured person who uses the ER for non-life-threatening emergencies. Research shows that uninsured people are more likely to postpone needed care and avoid preventive care, such as annual exams and routine check-ups, because of costs. As a result, medical conditions can worsen, forcing these people to seek treatment, often in the ER (Bailey, 6/12).

San Jose Mercury News: Death Rates At Bay Area Hospitals Vary Widely, New Report Reveals
While some hospitals excelled at keeping patients alive, more than half of institutions around the Bay Area had worse-than-average death rates for at least one medical procedure or patient condition in 2010 and 2011, a new state report reveals. Washington Hospital in Fremont had the dubious distinction of being among only a handful of hospitals statewide with worse-than-average death rates in several categories. Others, however, topped their peers with better-than-average death rates in two or more areas, including Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland, Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley, John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek, and Kaiser Permanente in Redwood City (Sandy Kleffman, 6/12).

Boston Globe: McLean Hospital Wins Approval For Belmont Expansion
McLean Hospital won state approval Wednesday for a $12.5 million expansion of its Belmont campus. The project features a three-story addition to its existing admissions building and 31 new beds for psychiatric patients. The Public Health Council approved the project, which the hospital said is needed because of increasing demand for psychiatric treatment, particularly in its short-term care and psychotic disorders units (Kowalczyk, 6/12).

Oregonian: OHSU Nursing Students, Wallace Medical Concern Team Up To Improve Health Care In Rockwood
A group of nursing students is working to steer more Rockwood residents, particularly those living in poverty, to preventive health care that reduces their hospital stays and trips to emergency rooms. Oregon Health & Science University nursing students have joined forces with Rockwood's Wallace Medical Concern to connect health care more closely to the community (6/12).

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