KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

State Roundup: Minn. Nurses Give On Staff Levels For Study

A selection of health policy news from California, Massachusetts, the District of Columbia, Minnesota and Oregon.

Los Angeles Times: L.A. County Backs Bills On Outpatient Mental Health Treatment
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has thrown its weight behind Laura's Law -- which allows counties to create court-ordered outpatient mental health treatment for the severely ill who have cycled through hospitals or jails and refused voluntary care -- saying in a resolution that such programs have been shown to "significantly reduce" homelessness, hospitalization and arrest (Romney, 3/18).

PBS NewsHour: California Law That Aspires To Improve Mental Health Raises Coercion Concerns (Video)
In the wake of several recent shootings, politicians and commentators have called for improved mental health screening and treatment. Spencer Michels reports on a program in California called "Laura's Law," an unfunded mandate that has proven difficult to implement and has drawn concern about involuntary treatment for patients (3/15).

The Washington Post: Future Of D.C.'s United Medical Center Still Uncertain
In the fractious universe of D.C. politics, there is one thing upon which virtually every elected city official agrees: There must be a full-service hospital east of the Anacostia River. But nearly three years after the city seized control of United Medical Center, the fate of the 354-bed facility on Southern Avenue SE remains uncertain (DeBonis, 3/17).

MPR News: Nurses Set Aside Goal On Hospital Staffing
Minnesota nurses have agreed to relinquish a legislative goal to establish mandated staffing levels in hospitals. The Minnesota Nurses Association and hospitals reached a compromise on Friday that would direct the state Department of Health to study the correlation between staffing levels and patient outcomes. It would mean the hospitals' first public disclosure of staffing levels. Nurses association first vice president Bernadine Engeldorf said the union made the compromise so the two sides could work toward increased patient safety (Shenoy, 3/16).

The Oregonian: Oregon Nurses Association Joins 1.5 Million-Member National Union
The Oregon Nurses Association today approved an affiliation agreement with the American Federation of Teachers, bringing more than 10,400 Oregon registered nurses into the 1.5 million-member union of educators and government and health care employees. Union officials called the agreement historic. "Educators and nurses share a mutual respect, mutual priorities and a mutual desire to provide our members with the tools and conditions they need to do their jobs," AFT President Randi Weingarten said in a statement. ... ONA President Steve Rooney said in a statement that the affiliation is important as nurses deal with a rapidly changing health care industry and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the controversial health care overhaul legislation (Hottman, 3/16).

Boston Globe: Children's Access To Mental Care In Mass. Is Growing
Children who go to a Wellesley pediatrician can, if needed, see a psychologist in a nearby exam room. At a medical office in Peabody, boys and girls with anxiety issues can simply go upstairs to see a social worker. And at a Newton pediatric clinic, children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder are able to see an on-site nurse practitioner specializing in mental health. These are among a growing number of Massachusetts pediatric practices that are sharing space with mental health professionals, a move aimed at improving access to hard-to-obtain psychological services and at sending the message that treating children's depression and behavioral issues is as important as following their asthma and diabetes (Wen, 3/18).

Los Angeles Times: Addressing Girls' Health Needs At Juvenile Detention Centers
Now 18, she is in Los Angeles County's juvenile justice system because she violated probation. Latrice says she has been locked up more than 20 times in four years. Petite and talkative, she has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and takes antidepressants. Her health issues -- and those of about 9,400 girls in juvenile detention centers around the nation -- are serious and complex. Many of the girls don't have regular doctors, so their physical and emotional problems often go undiagnosed and untreated. That continues when they enter a system that was designed for boys and has been slow to adapt to girls (Gorman, 3/16).

California Healthline: State Advocates Happy Over Federal WIC Action
Action by a U.S. Senate committee has family advocates in California breathing a sigh of relief. The Women, Infants and Children program -- which supplies food, breastfeeding services and other benefits to low-income mothers -- was included in the federal sequestration cuts, but this week the Senate appropriations committee included funding for it in an amendment to the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2013, and that means good things for the WIC program in California, according to Laurie True, executive director at the California WIC Association. True spoke yesterday at a state budget subcommittee hearing (Gorn, 3/15).

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