KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

State Highlights: Va. Mental Health Care Task Force; Pharmacist Duties In N.C.; Nurse Practitioners In Conn.

A selection of health policy stories from Virginia, North Carolina, New York, Connecticut, Minnesota, Florida, Iowa and Oregon.

The Associated Press: Lt. Gov To Lead Va. Mental Health Task Force
Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam will lead a state task force on mental health. Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed an executive order Wednesday extending a task force first created by former Gov. Bob McDonnell last year following the suicide of a state senator’s son (4/9).

North Carolina Health News: Pharmacists Get New Duties, Business With New Law
North Carolina is among the growing number of states to expand pharmacy practice laws, offering pharmacists a more visible, public role in helping manage patient care. A law enacted last year by the state legislature that went into effect in October increases the number and types of vaccines pharmacists’ can now administer in North Carolina. The law also opens the door a little wider to allow the number of in-store pharmacy clinic services to grow (Porter-Rockwell, 4/9).

The CT Mirror: Senate Votes To Allow Nurse Practitioners To Practice Independent Of Doctors
The Connecticut state Senate voted 25 to 11 Wednesday night to allow nurse practitioners to practice independent of physicians, a controversial concept that has gained traction amid growing concerns about the availability of primary care providers in the state. The proposal, which now goes to the House, originated in Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration, which pitched it as a way to increase access to primary care at lower costs as thousands more state residents gain insurance as part of the federal health law. But critics have raised concerns about the effects the change could have on patient care and primary care physicians (Becker, 4/9).

The Associated Press: N.Y. Health Commissioner Steps Down For Calif. Job
New York Health Commissioner Dr. Nirav Shah will step down in June to take an executive position with Kaiser Foundation Health Plan in California, the health department said Wednesday. During Shah's tenure as state health commissioner, he became a lightning rod for critics of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas because of the Cuomo administration's plan for an extended review of the technology. The health department also established a state health insurance exchange under the federal Affordable Care Act (4/9).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Alzheimer’s Disease Support Model Could Save Minn. Millions
As states eye strategies to control the costs of caring for Alzheimer’s patients, a New York model is drawing interest, and findings from a study of Minnesota’s effort to replicate it shows it could lead to significant savings and improved services (Gillespie, 4/10).

The CT Mirror: CT Scales Back Medicaid Repayment Rules For Some Recipients
Connecticut officials are scaling back the circumstances under which the state can seek repayment from the estates of Medicaid recipients when they die. The move addresses what some state and federal officials believe is a barrier to getting Medicaid-eligible people to sign up for the program under the federal health law commonly known as Obamacare. But the change affects people in only one portion of the program and leaves adults who received Medicaid-funded services before this year subject to having their estates docked for repayment (Becker, 4/9).

Health News Florida: Health Care 'Train' Coming?
Leaders of the Florida House, hoping to protect their pet health issues from being picked apart in the Senate,  have bundled them into a package to be introduced Thursday morning. In legislative parlance, they're creating a "train." The idea of a train is that it's a bunch of railcars that are connected and it would be hard to remove one of them without causing them all to derail. As a practical matter, it means some lawmakers might have to accept a bill they don't like in order to get one that's a must-pass.The House Health & Human Services Committee is expected to take up the measure at its meeting at 9 a.m. If approved, it will be the new version of the bill  (HB 7113) (Gentry, 4/10).

The Associated Press: Telemedicine Bill Still in Play
A Senate bill that would increase the use of telemedicine and establish requirements for health providers who treat patients remotely remains in play in Florida’s Legislature. A companion bill is also making its way through the House, but that bill doesn't require doctors to have a Florida license -- only that they be licensed in their home state and registered in Florida (4/9).

Miami Herald: HCA Will Waive Trauma Fees For The Uninsured
Hospital Corporation of America, Florida’s largest provider of trauma care, announced this week it will stop charging uninsured patients a special trauma fee that can add $30,000 or more to their bills. The new policy, announced Tuesday to the News Service of Florida, comes one month after the Tampa Bay Times published the results of a yearlong investigation showing that hospitals across the state were charging huge fees to trauma patients even when they needed little more than first aid (Zayas and Mitchell, 4/10).

The Des Moines Register: Mental Care Advocates Rally At Iowa Statehouse 
Advocates for people with mental disabilities or brain injuries gathered at the Statehouse Wednesday to decry years-long waiting lists for support services. The advocates said 7,700 Iowans are waiting for “Medicaid waiver” services, partly because Gov. Terry Branstad last summer vetoed $8.7 million that legislators had approved to clear such waiting lists (Leys, 4/10).

The Lund Report: Health Transformation Via A Website
Community health assessments and community health improvement plans have become a required component of the health care transformation landscape, some communities are turning to technology to assist with the planning process. Healthier Central Oregon, a web-based source of population data and community health information is helping policymakers, planners and community members in Central Oregon make their community healthier. The website is being run by the Central Oregon Health Board (Crook, Jefferson, and Deschutes counties) and the Central Oregon Health Council and sponsored by St. Charles Health System and Pacific Source Health Plans (Scharer, 4/9).

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