KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

State Highlights: Docs Move To Affluent Areas; Farmworkers’ Mental Health In Calif.

A selection of health policy stories from Florida, Wisconsin, California, Michigan, Georgia, North Carolina and Maryland.

Reuters:  Florida Gov Signs New Abortion Restrictions 
Florida Governor Rick Scott signed legislation on Friday barring late-term abortions in cases where doctors determine an unborn child could survive outside the womb, in a move critics say further chips away at abortion rights. The measure is among new limits on abortion pushed by Republicans in several states, some of which have prompted court challenges. Existing Florida law forbids abortion after 24 weeks' gestation, unless a woman's life or health is jeopardized by continued pregnancy (Cotterell, 6/13).

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Hospitals, Doctors Moving Out Of Poor City Neighborhoods To More Affluent Areas
Hospitals and family doctors, the mainstays of health care, are pulling out of poor city neighborhoods, where the sickest populations live. A Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel analysis of data from the largest U.S. metropolitan areas shows that people in poor neighborhoods are less healthy than their more affluent neighbors, but more likely to live in areas with physician shortages and closed hospitals. At a time when research shows that being poor is highly correlated with poor health, hospitals and doctors are following privately insured patients to more affluent areas rather than remaining anchored in communities with the greatest health care needs (Thomas, 6/14).

The California Health Report: Despite Need, Indigenous Farmworkers Have Little Access To Mental Health Services In California
When Irene Gomez emigrated from Mexico at 14, she immediately began working in the strawberry fields in the Oxnard Plain. ... She’s among the estimated 165,000 indigenous farmworkers who have immigrated to California in the last two decades. About 60 percent of them do not speak English or Spanish. Although many counties have programs that provide at least some medical care to this population, access to mental health services is extremely limited in most parts of the state (Guzik, 6/15).

Los Angeles Times: California Legislature Passes $156.4 Billion 2014-15 Budget
The spending plan -- which includes a $108-billion general fund, $7.3 billion larger than last year -- is scheduled to take effect July 1. It funds preschool for children from poor families, increases welfare grants and continues expanding public health care under President Obama's federal overhaul (Megerian and Mason, 6/15).

The Wall Street Journal: Miami Beach 'Rock Doc' Sentenced for Medicare Fraud
A federal judge sentenced Christopher G. Wayne, a Miami Beach, Fla., family physician, to five years and 10 months in prison for defrauding Medicare and ordered him to pay restitution to the government of $1.6 million. ... Dr. Wayne, known to his admirers as the "Rock Doc" for his punk style, was featured in a Wall Street Journal page-one article in December 2010. Using Medicare claims data, the Journal identified unusually high physical-therapy billings by Dr. Wayne (Carreyrou, 6/13).

The Washington Post: Gov. Rick Snyder Could Be The Country’s Most Unusual Republican. Can He Save Detroit? 
Like some other GOP governors, Snyder has signed controversial right-to-work legislation preventing unions from requiring workers to pay dues -- a crushing defeat for organized labor in a state that was once a hub of union power. Working with a GOP-controlled legislature, he also has cut unemployment benefits and slashed business taxes while imposing a new tax on pensioners. But unlike many Republican governors, he pushed to expand Medicaid and is encouraging immigration of high-skill workers (Fletcher, 6/13).

Georgia Health News: Emory’s EMTs Combine Learning, Lifesaving And Community Outreach 
The normal sounds of classes at Emory University are occasionally interrupted by something even more important -- emergency tones erupting from a radio clipped to the shirt of a student EMT. “We really try to minimize distractions by sitting near the exit and turning the radios down low so that we don’t disrupt the room when we need to leave,” said Alison Yarp, who volunteered as an EMT for three out of her four years at Emory. “It can be difficult sometimes to jump back and forth between being a student and being an EMT, but it’s so worth it.” According to the National Collegiate Emergency Medical Services Foundation, there are more than 250 colleges and universities in the United States with accredited collegiate EMS programs. But Emory is the only school in Georgia with a fully functioning collegiate EMS program (Duggan, 6/13).

North Carolina Health News: Saving Dollars And Lives Preventing Diabetes
As she watched her father bring fresh produce to her community after the only grocery store closed, L’Tanya Gilchrist said she learned the importance of doing work in her own community. But then diabetes took Gilchrist’s father’s hands and legs, and eventually his life. Gilchrist became determined to get more involved with community efforts to reduce poverty and diabetes. Gilchrist shared her story earlier this month at a diabetes forum organized by the Providing Access to Healthy Solutions program, an initiative led by the Harvard Law School’s Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation to highlight the importance of community-health workers and their role in diabetes prevention and management. The PATHS program has looked at both New Jersey and North Carolina as states in which to potentially pilot several policy solutions that could eventually be scaled up to the federal level (Singh, 6/16).

Baltimore Sun: Doctor’s Sex Assault Case Spurs Talk Of Background Checks
Revelations that a former Catonsville doctor obtained his Maryland medical license despite having a rape conviction on his record is sparking a push for criminal background checks of physicians -- a proposal that has failed and been ignored in recent years. As recently as 2013, state lawmakers considered a bill that encouraged checks for a wide range of health care providers, including doctors. It breezed through hearings and appeared headed for passage, but was pulled after a dispute over a single word, and was not reintroduced in this year's General Assembly session (Dance, 6/14).

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