A selection of health policy stories from the District of Columbia, New York, California, Florida, North Carolina and Colorado.
The Washington Post: Hundreds In D.C. Lost Medicaid Assistance Without Cause, Attorneys Say
The Washington Post found that the District cut 366 people from all or some of the services they may have been eligible to receive in the nine months ended March 2012, according to records on file at the D.C. Attorney General's Office. About a third of those people died, the office said. The District doesn't know how they died because the program doesn't get copies of death certificates, officials said (Campbell, 8/11).
The New York Times: Two Firms Accused Of Using Political Ties To Bilk Medicaid
A Congressional committee released letters on Friday alleging that a pharmacy and a nutrition company in New York State "got away with inappropriately billing the Medicaid program by millions of dollars" by using political connections in the Democratic Party, including Edward G. Rendell, the former governor of Pennsylvania, to influence the Cuomo administration (Bernstein, 8/9).
The New York Times: Public Unions Fight New York's Effort To Curb Health Costs
In his final months in office, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg set himself an ambitious goal: tackling New York's rapidly rising health care costs by finding cheaper insurance for the city's nearly 300,000 employees, 200,000 retirees and their families. On Friday, his chances of accomplishing that appeared dimmer than ever. The Municipal Labor Committee, a coalition of unions that negotiates with the city on health benefits, filed a complaint against the city and obtained a temporary restraining order stopping the administration for now from seeking new coverage (Taylor, 8/9).
The Associated Press: Court Stalls NYC Plan To Get Health Insurance Bids
A judge told the city Friday to hold off seeking bids for health insurance for its huge workforce, days after Mayor Michael Bloomberg spotlighted the plan in a speech about safeguarding the city's fiscal health. ... New York's health insurance bill has doubled since 2002, to $6.3 billion this year. The request for proposals will look to save up to $400 million a year, he said (8/9).
Los Angeles Times: OxyContin Maker Closely Guards Its List Of Suspect Doctors
Over the last decade, the maker of the potent painkiller OxyContin has compiled a database of hundreds of doctors suspected of recklessly prescribing its pills to addicts and drug dealers, but has done little to alert law enforcement or medical authorities. Despite its suspicions, Purdue Pharma continued to profit from prescriptions written by these physicians, many of whom were prolific prescribers of OxyContin (Glover and Girion, 8/11).
Los Angeles Times: California Cites 'Massive Prisoner Release' In Supreme Court Appeal
California lawyers late Friday filed the state's full appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, asking the high court to set aside orders to reduce prison crowding by the end of December. ... The appeal cites the great progress the state has made in improving medical and mental health care of inmates. It says the three federal judges who in June issued the current prison population reduction order showed a "conspicuous insensitivity" to the powers Congress tried to give states when dealing with court orders to release inmates (St. John, 8/10).
Health News Florida: Inspectors: Surgery Offices 'Filthy'
Too many physician surgery offices in Florida are "filthy" and have poorly trained staff, putting patients at risk, health inspectors say. In some offices, floors are caked with dirt, surgical devices are not properly disinfected, no one knows how to run sterilizing machines and the doctors perform procedures after only minimal training, three inspectors told members of the Florida Board of Medicine at a recent meeting in Deerfield Beach (Lamendola, 8/9).
North Carolina Health News: Changes In Hospital Finances Drives Flurry Of Mergers
In this first part of a three-part series, North Carolina Health News looks at the challenges facing rural hospitals and what it means for small communities when the local hospital merges with a larger hospital system. Today's story looks at the market and regulatory environments that are driving hospitals to merge (Porter-Rockwell, 8/12).
The Denver Post: Telemedicine Helps Doctors Beam Into Rural Hospitals, Treat Newborns
A premature baby born at high altitude faces challenges uncommon among newborns in Denver that often can't be treated by rural physicians. But expanded technology is helping beam the expertise of neonatal specialists in the city into critical-care situations at 33 remote hospitals in Colorado, Kansas and Wyoming (Marotti, 8/12).