KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

State Roundup: Calif. Prison Medical Facilities; New Ore. Rx Dispensing Rules

A selection of health policy stories from Texas, Oregon, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, California, Massachusetts and Colorado.

WBUR's CommonHealth blog: Top Health Care Official In Patrick Administration Departs
David Martin, who helped write Governor Deval Patrick's health care payment reform bill, is leaving. Martin, the Director of Health Care Policy and Strategy in the office of Health and Human Services, is taking a job at Covidien as Senior Director of Health Care Economics and Policy (Bebinger, 2/23).

Los Angeles Times: New Prison Medical Facilities Unnecessary, Analyst Says
California should hold off on building new medical facilities for prison inmates, according to report released Thursday by the legislative analyst's office. The report contradicts plans by a court-appointed receiver, who has run the prison health system since a federal judge declared it unconstitutionally inadequate, for $2.3 billion in new clinics and upgrades (Megerian, 2/23).

Denver Post: Colorado Lawmaker Kills Own Health Care Bill For Retired Public Employees As PERA Issues Pile Up At Capitol
In a stunning twist, a Republican lawmaker killed his bill that would have changed health care for retired public employees while another measure inspired in part by former Gov. Bill Ritter's jump in salary was delayed for a week. The two bills were among four Republican measures concerning the Public Employees' Retirement Association (Bartels, 2/24).

The Philadelphia Inquirer: Report Shows Jefferson Hospitals’ Billing Errors Resulted In Medicare Overpayment
Billing errors at two of the three Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals in 2008 and 2009 resulted in Medicare overpaying the hospital system $43,438, according to a report released Thursday by the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General. ... This case involved no apparent fraud, but it did touch a problematic area for hospitals - readmissions and the errors that cause them (Sell, 2/23).

New Orleans Times-Picayune: Mental Health Cutbacks Can't Be Stopped, New Orleans Legislator Tells City Council Members
Hoping to beat back pending cuts to state-financed mental health and substance abuse services, New Orleans City Council members on Thursday invited New Orleans' legislative delegation and leaders of key city public health agencies to discuss a strategy for reversing a $15 million reduction in the budget of Interim LSU Public Hospital beginning next month. ... The reduction is expected to lead to elimination of the facility's chemical detox unit and the closure of beds in the emergency department, mental health emergency extension and psychiatric inpatient unit at the DePaul Hospital campus (Krupa, 2/23).

California Healthline: Hearing Examines States' Behavioral Health Restructuring
The state is moving to eliminate the Department of Mental Health, essentially folding it into the Department of Health Care Services. According to state HHS undersecretary Michael Wilkening, almost all the functions of the current Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs also will shift to DHCS. "We think there will be efficiencies gained from elimination of those two departments," Wilkening said (Gorn, 2/24).

The Texas Tribune: Perry Surgeon Has Been Critic of Texas Health Policies
When Gov. Rick Perry goes under the knife on Friday morning to repair his right clavicle, he'll be in the hands of the president of the Texas Medical Association. ... [Dr. Bruce Malone] told The Texas Tribune last month that slashing family planning dollars and eliminating the Medicaid Women's Health Program to force Planned Parenthood out of Texas would be "a very stupid political thing," adding that there is not "another safety net for these women for medical care" (Ramshaw and Tan, 2/24).

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