A selection of health policy stories from Texas, North Carolina, California, Virginia, Missouri and Massachusetts
The Texas Tribune: Sheriff And Judge In Battle Over Medical Care In Jail
In November, David Conis Jr. sat in a Henderson County courtroom, vomiting repeatedly because of his vacillating blood-sugar levels, terrified that he was facing a diabetic coma. ... Henderson County state district Judge Carter Tarrance, concerned that the county jail was not providing adequate care, sent Conis to a local clinic and ordered the jail to follow the doctor's instructions (Grissom, 1/17).
JAMA: Expediting Medicaid Coverage For Prison Inmates
As many state Medicaid programs expand through the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a new survey indicates that some state prisons could improve prisoners' health care and lower state spending by revising policies on prisoner enrollment in the state-federal health plan. The survey, published online today in the American Journal of Public Health, evaluated Medicaid policies from December 2011 to August 2012 at 42 state prison systems (Voelker, 1/16).
Raleigh News & Observer: Doctors Sue NC Over Medicaid Billing System
Doctors are suing the state, a software vendor and consultants over the troubled Medicaid claims system, saying that complications and errors resulted in financial losses and harm to patients. ... Seven medical practices filed the suit Thursday in Wake County Superior Court. They ask to be certified as a class, saying a majority of the state's 70,000 Medicaid providers suffered damages that should be recovered. NC Tracks' flaws have been chronicled in state audits, news reports and medical workers' comments at legislative hearings. The NC Tracks system was trouble almost as soon as the state started using it on July 1 (Bonner, 1/16).
Los Angeles Times: California Hospitals Charge $3,000 To $37,000 For Childbirth, Study Says
Amid growing scrutiny of hospital billing, a new study finds that California hospitals charged mothers $3,296 to $37,227 for a routine delivery. For women having a cesarean section, the UC San Francisco study found patients were billed $8,312 to nearly $71,000. Few of the patients in the study released Thursday had serious health issues, and most were discharged within six days of admission (Terhune, 1/16).
The Washington Post: In Wake Of Son's Death, Creigh Deeds Makes Case For Reforms But Meets With Resistance
In a meeting Thursday of a mental-health subcommittee in the Virginia Senate, Deeds made a passionate case for his legislation without delving into the personal tragedy he suffered only two months ago. … The senator is hoping to extend the period of emergency custody to 24 hours from the current four to six. James L. Agnew, the sheriff in Goochland County, warned that it would strain small law enforcement agencies to watch over mentally ill persons for so long (Weiner, 1/16).
The Associated Press: Mo. Senator Files Medicaid Overhaul Plan
Private insurers would gain a greater role in Missouri's Medicaid program and patients could get rewarded financially for holding down their medical costs under a plan introduced Thursday by a key Republican senator. The legislation by Sen. Gary Romine follows many of the recommendation of a special Medicaid study panel he led, which sought to revamp the health care program for the poor without expanding eligibility (Lieb, 1/16).
The Boston Globe: Partners Defends Plan To Expand
Partners HealthCare, under growing pressure from regulators to abandon expansion plans, will file a forceful rebuttal Friday arguing that its proposed merger with South Shore Hospital and a related doctors' group would save about $27 million a year in health care costs. The largest Massachusetts hospital and physician network contends that a state commission's preliminary report criticizing the deal as costly and anticompetitive uses flawed reasoning and contains "inexplicable omissions.'' The commission's analysis concluding that the merger would give Partners too much market power is absurd, the rebuttal charges (Kowalczyk, 1/17).
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.