A selection of health policy stories from California, Oregon, Georgia, Texas, North Carolina, Kansas and Massachusetts.
Los Angeles Times: Immigration Proposal Could Affect California Health Safety Net
Making immigrants ineligible for public health benefits -- at least initially -- under proposed immigration law changes would push the costs of health care from the federal government to states and counties, said Sonal Ambegaokar, a health policy attorney at the National Immigration Law Center. And those costs could be sizable in a state like California, where there are an estimated 2.5 million illegal immigrants (Gorman, 4/16).
The Lund Report: Greenlick Wants Public Comment Period, But Ore. CCOs Resist
Rep. Mitch Greenlick, D-Portland, has put forth a compromise bill that would ensure greater public scrutiny of coordinated care organizations without putting them under Oregon's public meetings law. House Bill 2960 would require that each monthly board meeting have a public comment period where people would have the right to address each CCO's board of directors. It would also require community advisory councils to meet in public (Gray, 4/16).
The Wall Street Journal: Kickbacks Alleged At Spine Hospital
The U.S. attorney for the Central District of California is investigating allegations that a hospital executive paid kickbacks to physicians so they would refer their patients for spine surgery at his facility, according to people familiar with the probe. Over the past 15 years, Michael D. Drobot built a Southern California business empire centered on treating people with back problems, many of them workers' compensation patients. At the heart of the operation is Pacific Hospital of Long Beach, a 184-bed facility that Mr. Drobot bought in 1997 and turned into a spine-surgery center (Carreyou, 4/16).
Georgia Health News: Child Obesity Dips; Need For Healthy Food Remains
Georgia has recorded a 5 percent drop in its childhood obesity figures, according to state officials, citing new federal statistics. The decrease helped move Georgia's ranking as having the second most obese child population in the nation, which came from 2007 data, to No. 17 in the new figures, from 2011, Public Health officials say. … Recommendations in the report include governments aggressively marketing economic development programs and public incentives to the grocery industry for supermarket and other healthy food retail projects in underserved areas (Miller, 4/16).
The Texas Tribune: Cancer-Fighting Charity Hired Tobacco Lobbyist
A beleaguered cancer-fighting charity paid a tobacco lobbyist $5,000 a month to represent its interests in the Texas Legislature, even as it was winding down its operations and facing the wrath of lawmakers (Root, 4/17).
The Texas Tribune: Interactive: Health Care Lobbying
Ahead of the 83rd legislative session, the state's 10 leading health care associations gave more than $4.6 million to Texas candidates. This interactive shows how much -- and to whom -- health care associations donated in 2011 and 2012 (Aaronson, 4/17).
North Carolina Health News: NC Medicaid Has Strengths, Weaknesses, But Broken?
Medicaid in North Carolina has some profound strengths and also some glaring weaknesses. In the second of a two-part story, we examine the question, how broken is Medicaid? (Hoban, 4/16).