KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

State Roundup: Uninsured Not The Usual Suspects In Texas, Calif.

A selection of health care news from Texas, California, New York, Maine, Maryland, Georgia and Virginia.

Texas Tribune: Interactive: Who Are The Uninsured In Texas?
Nearly a quarter of the Texas population lacked health insurance in 2010, according to the most recent data released by the American Community Survey, which the U.S. Census Bureau conducted. That's more than 5.7 million Texans. ... More than half of the uninsured are employed. More than a third have an annual household income above $50,000 (Aaronson, 1/26).

Texas Tribune (Video): Texas Tribune Weekend Insider, January 26, 2012
Until courts can hash out the state's abortion sonogram law, Texas must begin enforcing the new regulations. Emily Ramshaw explains how family planning clinics are complying (Dehn and Ramshaw, 1/26). 

KQED's State Of Health blog: Without Individual Mandate, Fewer Californians with Health Insurance
In a new study, researchers at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and UC Berkeley crunched the numbers and determined that without the individual mandate, more than one million Californians would put off buying health insurance (Aliferis, 1/26).

New York Times/The Bay Citizen: Nursing Home Investigation Finds Errors By Druggists
Pharmacists responsible for reviewing the medication of patients in California nursing homes routinely allowed inappropriate and potentially lethal prescriptions of antipsychotic medications, and failed to correct other potentially dangerous drug irregularities, according to recent state investigations (Udesky, 1/27).

California Healthline: L.A. Senior Advocates Stand Up To Budget Cuts
L.A. County's low-income, at-risk seniors who are trying to stay in their homes rather than live in institutions must rely on a system of publicly supported programs that the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research has called "fragmented" and "often uncoordinated." If Medi-Cal eligible seniors enter nursing homes or arrive at emergency departments and hospitals, taxpayers still foot the bill. And that bill is projected to increase, particularly as services to keep seniors at home decrease (Stephens, 1/26).

The Washington Post: Virginia To Transform System Of Caring For Developmentally Disabled
Virginia will close all but one of its large institutions for the developmentally disabled and move thousands of people into their own homes, their family’s homes or group homes as part of a 10-year, $2.1 billion settlement announced Thursday with the U.S. Justice Department. ... Virginia is one of the few states that still place people with developmental disabilities in large institutions (Kumar, 1/26).

The Baltimore Sun: Johns Hopkins Unveils New Hospital
At the new $1.1 billion Johns Hopkins Hospital there will be Xboxes and a basketball court for kids, sleeper-sofas for families, single rooms for all patients, an improved dining menu and extensive soundproofing. It's part of an effort to make the hospital experience more patient-focused, Hopkins officials said Thursday on the first tour given to the news media since construction began five years ago on the 1.6 million-square-foot building, which will replace aging facilities on the East Baltimore medical campus (Cohn, 1/26).

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Health Beat: Retail Clinics Aren't Just An Rx Fad
MinuteClinic — a darling of health care reform when it introduced retail clinics a decade ago — is running strong despite retailers and family doctors copying its storefront brand of care. A new market report found that MinuteClinic still is the nation's top provider of retail clinics with 549 in operation (Olson, 1/26).

Georgia Health News: State Discusses Ideas On New Medicaid Design
David Cook, commissioner of the Department of Community Health, told reporters in a media briefing that while people often have a negative impression of managed care, they generally agree with its principles of coordinating a patient's treatment. The Georgia Hospital Association recently criticized the state's current HMO-like set-up. It called instead for a Medicaid system similar to North Carolina's "patient home" model, which is run by physicians, not insurers (Miller, 1/26). 

Bangor Daily News: Bill Seeks To Limit Higher Prices For Specialty Drugs
In an effort to control spending, some insurers are passing along more costs for expensive drugs to consumers and employers. ... A bill sponsored by Rep. Stacey Fitts, R-Pittsfield, would prevent private insurers from charging Maine consumers more for specialty drugs than for other medications. The bill, LD 1691, would not apply to government-subsidized plans or self-funded health insurance used by some employers (Farwell, 1/26).

Modern Healthcare: N.Y. Hospital To Settle False Claims Charges
Cayuga Medical Center, a 209-bed hospital in Ithaca, N.Y., will pay about $3.6 million to settle False Claims Act allegations with the U.S. attorney general in New York. The attorney general's office alleges that the hospital had "improper physician recruitment agreements" with some referring physicians, and then submitted those false claims to Medicare and Medicaid from July 2004 to December 2006 (Lee, 1/26).

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