A selection of health policy stories from California, Texas, Louisiana, North Carolina and Colorado.
San Jose Mercury News: Hospital Bidder Sues Union, Alleging Extortion
In a surprising move, an anti-union Southern California hospital chain hoping to buy the struggling Daughters of Charity Health Care System is suing employee unions under the federal RICO Act, saying the unions are trying to thwart that deal and others by using extortionist tactics aimed at forcing it to cave into union demands. The lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in San Francisco by Prime Healthcare Services accuses Service Employees International Union and SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West; the union federation Change to Win; and three union leaders of conspiring to "target and attack Prime with the ultimate objective of either unionizing Prime, thereby altering its cost structure and business model, or eliminating Prime from the market altogether'' (Seipel, 8/26).
Dallas Morning News: Janek Accuses Xerox Of "Reckless" Misuse Of Medicaid Data
Texas Medicaid officials, already in a legal battle with Xerox Corp. over the company's alleged failure to prevent widespread dental fraud, filed another lawsuit Tuesday accusing Xerox of improperly taking large quantities of medical records and not protecting patients' confidentiality. The state Health and Human Services Commission said it filed a lawsuit in state district court in Austin seeking return of the patient data. ... Xerox spokesman Kevin Lightfoot, though, said in an email that "the data represents proprietary Xerox information and was retained with the state's knowledge" (Garrett, 8/26).
The Texas Tribune: Texas Files Second Lawsuit Against Xerox
The state of Texas on Tuesday announced a second lawsuit against former contractor Xerox, alleging the company failed to turn over client health records relating to its operation of the state Medicaid program. The announcement comes three months after the state announced it was suing the company over allegedly misspent money, after thousands of requests for medically unnecessary braces were approved (Walters, 8/26).
The Associated Press: Health Benefits Changes Planned for Louisiana State Workers
Louisiana's state government employees and retirees face increased out-of-pocket costs, higher deductibles and new health service limitations as Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration reworks state insurance plans to keep the program from financial disaster. Financial analysts say those in the insurance program in many instances will be paying more and getting less. Critics of the changes say workers and retirees are being held responsible for the Jindal administration's mismanagement of their program (8/26).
Raleigh News & Observer: DHHS Medicaid Planner Leaves Highly Paid Job
A woman state health officials hired a year ago to work on Medicaid alternatives -- a new position that paid $95,000 annually despite her thin resume -- is resigning. Margaret "Mardy" Peal will leave Sept. 19, to take advantage of an opportunity that will allow her, a single mother, to be at home with her children more often, according to her resignation letter. ... Her hiring at DHHS drew criticism because it fit into a pattern of controversial personnel decisions by Secretary Aldona Wos, including high pay for young, inexperienced officials, and a contract with someone who works for her husband's company (Jarvis, 8/26).
The Denver Post: Colorado Not Monitoring Psychotropics For Imprisoned Youths
Colorado has poor controls over the administration of powerful psychotropic medication to youths in corrections facilities, with state officials unable to show they are doing enough to monitor for harmful side effects, according to a state report released Tuesday. The report, which focused on the state's Division of Youth Corrections, sampled the medical records of 60 youth offenders, 57 of whom were prescribed psychotropic medication (Osher, 8/26).
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.