KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

State News: Mich. Lawmakers Pass Bill To Cut State Share Of Teachers’ Health Care

News outlets cover health issues in California, Michigan, Minnesota, Tennessee and Texas.

The Tennessean: Knoxville Abortion Clinic Closes, Citing New TN Abortion Law
A Knoxville abortion provider has closed after 38 years, citing a newly enacted Tennessee law that requires doctors to hold admitting privileges at local hospitals. The Volunteer Women's Medical Clinic in Knoxville closed Friday. In a public letter titled "End of an Era," Executive Director Deb Walsh wrote that she was unable to keep their doors open in part due to the "Life Defense Act," which requires physicians to obtain admitting privileges at area hospitals (Wadhwani, 8/16).

The Texas Tribune: State-Run Women's Health Program Faces Questions
As state officials prepare to take full control of the once federally funded Texas Women’s Health Program on Nov. 1, they're running into a series of unexpected challenges, from controversy around proposed rule changes to questions about how to cover the 130,000 enrolled clients within the confines of a tight state budget. The state has pledged to forgo $35 million in annual federal funding — a 9 to 1 match — in order to exclude Planned Parenthood clinics from the program, clinics that have used Women's Health Program dollars to provide contraception and cancer screenings, but not abortions (Tan, 8/16). 

Detroit Free Press: Michigan's Director Of Health To Step Down
Gov. Rick Snyder announced Wednesday that Olga Dazzo, director of the Michigan Department of Community Health, is leaving to work in the health care industry again. She will be replaced by James Haveman, who headed the department during the John Engler administration. The Senate has to approve Haveman's appointment; he is scheduled to take over Sept. 1. Haveman resigned his seat on the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Board of Directors, effective Friday (Anstett, 8/16).

Detroit Free Press: Retired Teachers Will Get Less As Legislature Overhauls Pensions, Health Care
State lawmakers passed a bill Wednesday that will mean higher costs or reduced pensions for most of the nearly 450,000 employees and retirees of Michigan's public schools. Critics say the changes represent broken promises and a continued war on teachers by the Republican-controlled Legislature. But supporters of the changes say they will save the retirement system from catastrophe by erasing more than $15 billion of nearly $50 billion in unfunded liabilities. … The plan would pre-fund retiree health care costs, give many school employees the option of making larger pension contributions or receiving reduced pensions, and require most public school employees to pay 20% of their health care coverage (Egan, 8/16).

MPRNews:  Should Medical Students Practice Patient-Centered Care?
As hospitals and clinics try to find ways to provide more patient-centered care, a few medical schools are using training programs that help instill the importance of the practice in future doctors.  The University of Minnesota has had such a program for more than four decades. The medical school sends a group of students to rural communities for nine months during their third year of school through the Rural Physician Associate Program. Now medical schools worldwide are interested in the model (Kaiser, 8/16).

Mercury News:  Study:  Inland Empire Hospitals Would Lose Portion Of Medicare Reimbursements
Already reeling from big cutbacks in Medicare funding, hospitals in the Inland Empire would lose another 6.6 percent of their federal reimbursement under a new analysis ordered by Congress.  Rural areas of California would be hit hardest under the Institute of Medicine study, which would pare Medicare payments to the state's hospitals by an average 3 to 4 percent. Under a separate proposal governing Medicare payments to physicians, the San Bernardino area would fare better. Reimbursements paid to doctors would be up by 0.5 percent throughout San Bernardino County, according to the study (Westphal, 8/16).

California Watch: Several Californians Among The Most Wanted For Health Fraud
One Southern California man sent recruiters to pressure elderly people into accepting power wheelchairs so he could bill Medicare. A Los Angeles woman is accused of laundering millions of dollars in fraudulent Medicare payments through jewelry stores after ordering walkers and canes for dead people. And a crew in and around Sacramento billed Medicare for running blood tests on each other and paid patients $100 to come to clinics (Jewett, 8/17).

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