A selection of health policy stories from California, West Virginia, Maryland, Connecticut and Minnesota.
Los Angeles Times: Survey: Kaiser Leads In Customer Satisfaction, Blue Shield Ranks Last
For the seventh consecutive year, Kaiser Permanente ranked highest in customer satisfaction for health insurance among California policyholders, according to ratings firm J.D. Power & Associates. But two other major rivals -- Blue Shield of California and Anthem Blue Cross -- scored the lowest on member satisfaction among seven California health plans (Terhune, 3/10).
Politico: Joe Manchin Backs West Virginia Abortion Bill
West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin is "supportive" of a West Virginia bill banning abortions after 20 weeks and is considering backing a similar federal ban in the Senate. "I am pro-life and supportive of the principles in the bill that was just passed in the West Virginia Legislature," Manchin said in a statement (Everett, 3/10).
The Baltimore Sun: Legislation Pushes Involuntary Mental Health Treatment
Maryland lawmakers are moving to make it easier to medicate mental hospital patients against their will, while examining the idea of court-ordered therapy for mentally ill people who aren't hospitalized. The legislation is based partly on recommendations from a panel convened by Gov. Martin O'Malley after the 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. (Walker, 3/10).
The CT Mirror: Proposal To Let Nurse Practitioners Practice Independently Advances
A controversial proposal that would allow nurse practitioners to practice independent of doctors cleared the legislature's Public Health Committee Monday. Legislators voted 22 to 4 to advance the bill to the Senate floor. Some members of the committee indicated that they believed the bill should move forward, but that it would need fine-tuning before becoming law. In particular, committee members raised concerns about malpractice insurance requirements for nurse practitioners and "truth in advertising" that would make clear to patients whether they're seeing a doctor or a nurse practitioner (Becker, 3/10).
The San Francisco Chronicle: Campos Wants Stricter Rules On S.F. Health Care Accounts
It looks like it's loophole closure time all over again. Supervisor David Campos is once again proposing legislation to stop employers from pocketing millions of dollars that were supposed to pay for employee health care as part of the city's universal health care law. The centerpiece of Campos' proposal is a requirement that money employers deposit in savings accounts to reimburse their workers for their health care expenses actually gets used for that. Now, employers may take back the unused portion of the money after two years, and some do (Cote, Knight and Lagos, 3/10).
The Star Tribune: Minnesota's 'Unsession' Should Undo Health Care Access Barriers
In rural Minnesota, a highly educated nurse who has spent years developing therapeutic relationships with dozens of people with mental illness, monitoring and adjusting their psychiatric medications, must tell them she can no longer help them. Insurance isn't the problem, and it has nothing to do with either the patients or the specialized nurse. It's because someone else is retiring. The nurse specialist paid that person, a physician, several thousand dollars for permission to practice. When he retires, that agreement and the nursing care it permitted ends. He has never seen the nurse's patients and has not collaborated in their care, yet he controls their access to the health care they appreciate and need (Weber, 3/10).
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.