Roundup: Patient dies after medical error during Calif. nurses strike; grocery workers ratify contract that had partially hinged on health care

News outlets report on a variety of state health policy issues.

San Francisco Chronicle: Patient's Death Heightens Tensions After Strike 
Veteran nurses locked out of Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland said Sunday that the death of a patient due to a medical error by a replacement worker wouldn't have happened if they had been allowed to do their jobs. The hospital's management countered that it was a freak accident that could have happened at any time -- with or without the replacement nurses. At the center of the dispute is a cancer patient, a woman who has not been identified but whose tragic death on Saturday has inflamed an already tense labor dispute (Baker, 9/26).

Los Angeles Times: Grocery Workers Ratify Contract
Members of Southern California's grocery union voted to ratify a new contract with Ralphs, Vons and Albertsons on Saturday night. ... One key sticking point was healthcare funding: A key question, for the UFCW and the three employers, was how much each side would have to pay to ensure that a healthcare trust fund covering workers would be economically viable for the long term. Among the issues resolved in the complicated deal, according to sources familiar with the negotiations, is that grocery workers would pay $7 a week for individual coverage and $15 a week for a family starting next April (Huffstutter, 9/24).

Fox/Reuters: Southern California Grocery Workers Ratify Contract
"This package protects our members' access to affordable comprehensive health care for themselves and their families," the union said in a statement late on Saturday. The union has said the agreement increases wages and protects healthcare and pension benefits through the life of the contract. Southern California is one of the most competitive food retailing markets in the United States. Many analyst see the region as a trend-setter for the rest of the industry (9/25).

The Texas Tribune: New Texas Law On Student Fitness Data Faces Obstacles
Under [a] new law, researchers can access unidentified individual student data, which they say will help bolster aggregate analyses that already show correlations between physical fitness and academic performance, gang activity and absenteeism. But the new law's effects may be limited. To help ease the pain of the $4 billion reduction in state financing for public education, and in an attempt to reduce state mandates at the district level, lawmakers exempted school districts from having to collect and report the data on a significant number of students (Smith, 9/26).

Rochester Democrat And Chronicle:  Health Care: The Everywhere Issue
For a thorough perspective of health care in the Rochester area, it's hard to beat what Patricia Larrabee provides. She sees the good, bad and promising -; often on the same day. Larrabee, a registered nurse, is president and CEO of Rochester Clinical Research Inc., which conducts clinical trials for pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies around the country. She and her staff see the leading edge of medical innovation -; the latest drugs and medications, the newest thinking, the smartest people, many of them trained at local universities. But Larrabee also sees the underside of modern medicine, characterized by poor families unable to afford health insurance, unable to pay for care on their own and yet plagued by the fear, common to all humans, that they or their children might harbor a disease that will kill them (Tobin, 9/25).

The Sacramento Bee: Bill Before Jerry Brown Brings HPV Vaccine Debate To California
Days before Republican candidates began sparring over a vaccine to help prevent cervical cancer, a bill aimed at expanding access to the shot for California minors made its way to Gov. Jerry Brown's desk with little fanfare. Assembly Bill 499, by Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, would allow those 12 and older to seek medical care to prevent sexually transmitted infections without parental consent (Van Oot, 9/24).

California Healthline: Hernandez Attacked In TV Ad
A consumer advocacy group took on the chair of the (Calif.) Senate Health Committee at the end of last week, and it has stirred up Sacramento. The ad was in reaction to the legislative decision to delay a vote on AB 52 by Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles) and Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael), the proposal to regulate health insurance rate increases (Gorn, 9/26).

California Watch: For Caregivers, Health, Well-Being And Finances Can Suffer
More than 6 million California adults provide care for a family member or friend with a long-term illness or disability.  ... caregivers have higher levels of psychological distress and engage in more poor health-related behaviors than do their non-caregiving counterparts, according to a study released last week by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. Nearly 52 percent work full time in addition to providing an average of more than 21 hours of care each week. Few are compensated for their care; one in five spends more than $250 of their own money on caregiving each month (Lin, /26).

New Hampshire Public Radio: HHS To Soon Seek Managed Care Proposals
The Department of Health and Human Services is inching closer to soliciting a bid to transform ... New Hampshire's Medicaid program. The changes to the healthcare program for low-income citizens is expected to save the state money. ... The plan is to hire an outside contractor to provide services to the state's Medicaid population (Gorenstein, 9/23).

HealthyCal: Homeless for Years, Older Women In Los Angeles Find A Good Home
The Downtown Women's Center's beautiful new building, sitting in the middle of the mayhem, is a standout. The DWC's Day Center serves hundreds of homeless women in its facilities every day and 71 lucky ones live in permanent residences, or efficiency apartments. ... Women often become vulnerable to homelessness if they have lost a spouse who was primary source of income for the family (Portner, 9/26).

Associated Press/(Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.) Pioneer Press: Group Erecting Wisconsin Billboard Decrying Health Effects of Eating Cheese
A nonprofit group with a history of provocative takes on food is preparing a billboard in the heart of dairy country about the dangers of eating cheese. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is sponsoring a billboard showing the Grim Reaper wearing a cheesehead hat with the message: "Warning: Cheese Can Sack Your Health. Fat. Cholesterol. Sodium"…. The Washington-based group, which supports a vegetarian diet, said it's a way to educate people about the harmful effects of eating cheese. 

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Elder-Care Hurdle Criticized
Thousands of frail Minnesotans who plan to move into assisted living facilities will have to talk with a telephone counselor first under a state law that takes effect Oct. 1. The counseling is designed to help older people and their families make better -- and less costly -- long-term care choices. It also is projected to save taxpayers $3.8 million in the next two years because public programs such as Medicaid pick up much of the bill for long-term care. But it has kicked up a fuss among the state's 1,701 assisted living operators, who could lose customers (Wolfe, 9/24). 

Denver Post: Colorado Gets $3.8 Million For Substance Abuse Programs
Colorado is one of nine states in line to get millions of dollars in federal money for substance-abuse programs, the state Department of Human Services said Sunday. Colorado will receive $8.3 million over the next five years for screening, prevention, intervention and referrals to treatment programs. Colorado's share is part of a $137 million federal initiative announced by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in August. The grants are partly funded by the Affordable Care Act, which President Barack Obama signed into law in 2010 to reform health care costs and programs (9/26).

Kansas Health Institute News: Medicaid Drug Settlement Nets Kansas $1.4 Million
Kansas will get $1.4 million as its share of a settlement with drugmaker Boehringer Ingelheim. The company had been accused of using deceptive practices to gain Medicaid overpayments. ... [Attorney General Derek] Schmidt said a total of 38 lawsuits have been filed by the Kansas Attorney General's Office that allege artificial inflation of the average wholesale drug price, which is used to set the Medicaid reimbursement rates. To date, 12 of the cases have been settled, resulting in $15.8 million in recoveries for the Kansas Medicaid program (9/23).


http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis 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.

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