KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

State Highlights: Fla. Restaurant’s Health Law Surcharge

A selection of health policy stories from Florida, California, the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Los Angeles Times: Florida Restaurant Chain Adds Health Care Surcharge To The Tab; Will Others Follow?
A chain of restaurants in central and northern Florida have added a 1 percent surcharge to its customers’ checks to cover health care costs for its employees. Eight Gator’s Dockside restaurants have instituted the surcharge, the Associated Press reported. Customers’ bills show a fee labeled “ACA,” which stands for the Affordable Care Act that will require all businesses with 50 or more full-time workers to provide health coverage or pay a fine. For restaurants with more than 100 full-time staff members, the deadline to comply is 2015 (Hallock, 3/1).

Reuters: Florida Restaurant Chain Adds Obamacare Surcharge To Meal Bills
Diners at a Florida restaurant chain are being asked to pay a health insurance surcharge on their meal tabs to cover the cost for business owners of the Obama administration's new healthcare program. Customers at eight Gator's Dockside restaurants dotted around central and north Florida are finding a 1 percent surcharge on their bills listed as "ACA," the letters standing for the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare (Liston, 2/28).

Miami Herald: Feds To Fine State Over Limit on Medicaid Patients' ER Visits
Florida has been limiting Medicaid patients to six emergency room visits a year even though federal officials consider such a cap illegal. As a result, the federal government intends to penalize the state by withholding a portion of Medicaid funding (Mitchell and Tillman, 3/2).

Los Angeles Times: Rate Of Babies Delivered At U.S. Hospitals Drops Sharply
U.S. hospitals are making major strides at clamping down on early deliveries of babies and instead letting Mother Nature take its course in response to growing pressure from employers, government officials and patient-safety advocates. The Leapfrog Group, an employer-backed organization that tracks hospital safety and quality, published data Monday showing a sharp decrease in early-elective deliveries since 2010 nationwide and in California (Terhune, 3/2).

The Washington Post: MetroAccess Is A Public Transit Lifeline For People With Disabilities
Mandated by the Americans With Disabilities Act, MetroAccess is vital to many of its 32,000 users, people who are not physically capable of riding Metro’s buses or trains or who might feel frightened doing so because of their disabilities. For [Denise Rush, who is blind,] and others, it’s a key to an active, fulfilling lifestyle, allowing them to avoid becoming shut-ins or burdens to their families. ... Without transportation, Rush says, she could not keep her job, and losing her job would mean losing her health insurance and possibly her home (Duggan, 3/1).

Philadelphia Inquirer: Phila. Area Blocked From New Medicare Ambulance Enrollment
Citing a "significant potential for fraud, waste, and abuse," federal Medicare officials put a moratorium on the enrollment of new ambulance operators in Philadelphia and six surrounding counties. The Philadelphia moratorium, which took effect Jan. 31, is just the second time officials at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have exercised this new power under the Affordable Care Act. It is intended to root out fraud (Brubaker, 3/2). 

Miami Herald: Jackson Memorial Hospital Expected To Lose $140 Million Under New Medicaid Law
Jackson Memorial Hospital is bracing again for big cuts -- this time, the result of a new law that will send millions of federal dollars that used to go to Miami-Dade hospitals elsewhere in the state. ... The new funding formula was a little-known part of Florida’s 2011 Medicaid reform law, a Republican-driven overhaul of the state and federal insurance program for the poor. The provision was intended to make the distribution of an estimated $1 billion a year in federal Medicaid matching funds more equitable. But its unintended consequences are now becoming clear, as the funding mechanism known as “tiering” is scheduled to take effect (McGrory, Mitchell and Tillman, 3/2).

The Kansas City Star: Healthier Lunches Law Has Unintended Consequences
It's been two years since legislation was implemented to encourage healthy eating during school lunches -- and kids are eating healthier -- but the new rules also are having some unintended consequences. Students at Wilson Junior High School [in Manitowoc, Wisconsin] had a wide assortment of healthy options as they walked through the lunch line recently...However, while the legislation requires students take a fruit and vegetable, it cannot force them to eat it — and many students choose not to. "We had very little waste before, now we have a lot of waste," [food services director Lynette] Zalec said (Bock, 3/3).

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