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).
Kansas Health Institute: Drug Screening Bill Signed Into Law
A bill authorizing state officials to order drug tests of people receiving or applying for unemployment or some welfare benefits was signed into law today by Gov. Sam Brownback. Senate Bill 149, which passed the House and Senate by large majorities, would allow officials to order the screening if they have a "reasonable suspicion" that an applicant or recipient of the benefits is using a "controlled substance" (Shields, 4/16).
Boston Globe: At Hospitals, Training For Disasters Gets Put To Test
Dr. Stephanie Kayden had just returned to the emergency room, after grabbing a slice of quiche in the hospital cafeteria. A resident pulled aside the senior doctor to discuss a pregnant woman who was vomiting. It was strangely serene for Marathon Monday. Suddenly, a dispatcher's voice crackled over a speakerphone at the nurses' station. All Kayden caught was "Bombings" and "Copley Square." … Hospitals put in place long-rehearsed emergency plans, summoning help from across their campuses, and paging off-duty staff. Dozens of caregivers, including some unable to finish running the Marathon, simply showed up. (Kowalczyk, Lazar, Conaboy, 4/17).
California Healthline: Pre-Existing Conditions Bill Up For Final Vote
The Senate Committee on Appropriations yesterday unanimously approved ABX1-2 by Assembly member Richard Pan (D-Sacramento), the bill to ban pre-existing conditions as a means of denial for health coverage. It now heads to the Senate floor for a final confirmation vote. The bill already passed the Assembly, so Senate confirmation would be its ticket to the governor's desk. Brown Administration officials have said they support the bill (Gorn, 4/16).
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.