KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Calif. Governor Signs Law For Oversight Of CT Scans; Ariz. Man’s Transplant On Hold Because Of Medicaid Cuts; Texas Pharmacies Sue CVS Caremark

The New York Times: California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger "has signed tough new legislation tightening oversight of diagnostic CT scans, largely in response to the overdosing of hundreds of patients who underwent brain scans for stroke in 2008 and 2009." The bill "will require hospitals and clinics to record radiation doses for CT scans and to report any overdoses to patients and their doctors. The brain scan overdoses surfaced last year at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, where 269 patients received up to eight times the radiation that was expected. ... So far, higher than expected radiation doses have been uncovered at eight hospitals, six in California." The Food and Drug Administration is expected to release a report soon with the results of an inquiry into the excessive radiation (Bogdanich, 10/1).

The Associated Press/Seattle Times: "A Phoenix man awaiting a bone-marrow transplant got good news Friday -- word of two donors who are possible matches. But new budget cuts for Arizona's Medicaid program also take effect Friday, and they eliminate coverage for many types of transplants, including the lifesaving one Mark Price needs. … The benefit cuts implemented Friday by the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, known as AHCCCS, were included in the budget the Legislature and Republican Gov. Jan Brewer approved last spring. Transplant centers have been lobbying the Republican-led Legislature in recent months to agree to meet in special session to at least temporarily restore the transplant funding" (Davenport, 10/1).

The New York Times: "A group of Texas pharmacies has filed a lawsuit against CVS Caremark, the nation's largest pharmacy health care provider, saying it violates racketeering and privacy laws. The Texas companies filed the suit Thursday in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas." The lawsuit "accuses CVS Caremark of gaining too much control over patient information, including files from the independent pharmacies that have to hand over patient information for insurance disputes." Carolyn Castel, the CVS Caremark vice president for corporate communications, responded, "CVS Caremark is confident that its business practices and service offerings ... are being conducted in compliance with applicable antitrust, privacy and other laws" (Wilson, 10/1).

The Cincinnati Enquirer: Low insurance reimbursements for mental health providers is a problem for many of the professionals. Charles Roberts, one of the owners of a practice, tells the Enquirer that "most clinicians in the field are making about what they made in 1997. … Psychologists, therapists and counselors across Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky are experiencing payments as low as half of what the treatment costs, making it hard for many of them to pay the bills. With more people out of jobs or experiencing more stress paying the bills, behavioral health care is needed more than ever, said Paul Keck, president and chief executive officer at the Lindner Center of Hope in Mason" (Peale, 10/3).

The Palm Beach Post: "As critical health reform deadlines loom, the former secretary of Florida's Agency for Health Care Administration, Medicaid expert Tom Arnold, has left government to join one of Tallahassee's top lobbying firms, Southern Strategies. The firm has a long roster of health clients, including insurers, medical device distributors, hospitals and contractors, many of them regulated by AHCA. Arnold is a good catch for Southern Strategies. The Agency for Health Care Administration's annual budget was $21 billion last year -- one-fourth of all state spending. And that share is about to grow. The Affordable Care Act may add 1.26 million people to the state's Medicaid rolls" (Singer, 10/4). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.