A selection of health policy stories from California, Texas, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois and Kansas.
Los Angeles Times: Filipino Nurses Win Language Discrimination Settlement
A group of Filipino nurses who claimed they were mocked for their accents and ordered to speak "English only" won a nearly $1-million settlement against a Central California hospital where bosses and co-workers were allegedly urged to eavesdrop on the immigrant workers. The $975,000 settlement, announced Monday by lawyers from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, is believed to be the largest language discrimination settlement in the U.S. health care industry, according to the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (Do, 9/18).
The Texas Tribune: Medicaid Woes Subject Of House Committee Hearing
At a Monday hearing on the implementation of Medicaid managed care in South Texas, lawmakers got a much bigger earful on the consequences of difficult budget decisions they made in the last legislative session. In an effort to curb costs last session, lawmakers expanded Medicaid managed care, the health plan that oversees care for impoverished Texans, to South Texas, the border region and previously underserved areas (Aaronson, 9/17).
Los Angeles Times: New York's Soda Limits Could Boost Similar Efforts In California
California health advocates hope their state will see some movement on limiting sugar-laced soda following action last week to cap serving sizes for sugary drinks in New York City (McGreevy, 9/17).
California Watch: Judge Dismisses Prime Healthcare Antitrust Lawsuit
A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by hospital chain Prime Healthcare Services that alleged Kaiser Permanente conspired with a health care workers union to drive Prime out of business. The lawsuit cited the Sherman Antitrust Act, which is meant to limit monopolies, and claimed Kaiser and the union "joined forces" to drive up Prime's costs, in part, by forcing the chain to pay high wages to workers (Jewett, 9/17).
The Associated Press/Washington Post: Confusion In Wake Of Court Ruling Overturning Wisconsin Union Law
Wisconsin school and government employee unions on Monday were considering whether to seek new contract talks after a state court threw out a controversial law that restricts public workers' collective bargaining rights. … The law limits bargaining on wage increases to the rate of inflation. Other issues, such as workplace safety, vacation and health benefits, were excluded from collective bargaining (9/17).
Crain's Detroit Business: Detroit Hospitals Are Growing, Selling Their Own Produce
An increasing number of hospitals in Southeast Michigan are growing their own produce for patients and selling healthy food through farmer's markets on their campuses. Experts say that 80 percent of chronic disease, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer, can be prevented, or conditions can be improved, through better diet and exercise (Greene, 9/17).
Marketplace: Employers Embrace Wellness Plans
Teachers in Chicago remain on strike today and Mayor Rahm Emanuel is turning to the courts to try and end the walkout that's keeping some 350,000 students out of class. The main issue angering teachers is a new evaluation system the mayor is trying to implement; another point of dispute is health care. Teachers want the city to freeze prices on their insurance premiums. The city says OK, but the teachers would have to sign on to what's called a wellness program (Troeh, 9/17).
Kansas Health Institute News: Tobacco Dispute Threatens Funding Of Children's Programs
A long-simmering dispute over whether state officials have done enough to regulate off-brand cigarette companies is threatening to pull tens of millions of dollars from the state's programs for children and at-risk families. "The potential is there, certainly, for this to decimate children's programs all across Kansas," said Shannon Cotsoradis, chief executive of the advocacy group Kansas Action for Children. The dispute stems from the 1998 master settlement agreement in which tobacco companies agreed to make billions of dollars in compensatory payments to states for as long as they remain in business (Ranney, 9/17).
California Healthline: Motion Could Delay Implementation [Of Adult Day Services]
A court motion filed Saturday challenging the state's implementation of a new program for adult day services raises a number of concerns about how the new legal hurdle may affect timing and appeals in the new Community Based Adult Services program. One of the main issues revolves around the fate of approximately 2,400 former Medi-Cal beneficiaries of Adult Day Health Care services. Those frail, elderly and disabled people had been denied eligibility to the replacement CBAS program. Many of them had been denied eligibility after earlier being approved for it (Gorn, 9/18).
California Healthline: Mental Health, Substance Abuse Treatment Changing
Mental health care and substance abuse treatment in California's subsidized coverage programs are undergoing change on two fronts. Either one of the changes by itself could produce optimism and anxiety among stakeholders. But coming in tandem, the changes are doubling expectations and worries. … One of the most significant changes, according to substance abuse treatment providers and mental health advocates, is their interpretation that the Affordable Care Act requires adherence to the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008. Passed by Congress and signed by President George W. Bush, the law calls for "equity in the provision of mental health and substance-related disorder benefits under group health plans" (Lauer, 9/17).
This article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.