State roundup: Texas, Minn. scrutinize psychiatric care

A selection of health policy news from Georgia, Louisiana, Minnesota, Texas and Kansas.

The Dallas Morning News: Justice Department Explores Possible Civil Rights Investigation Of Parkland
U.S. Justice Department officials in Washington are weighing whether to investigate potential civil rights violations of psychiatric patients at Parkland Memorial Hospital. Sarah Saldaña, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Texas, said the review stems from news stories in The Dallas Morning News exposing cases of neglect, violence and questionable deaths (Moffeit and Egerton, 3/29).

Minnesota Public Radio: State Failed To Review Troubled Past Of Ousted Minn. Security Hospital Administrator
[O]fficials at the Minnesota Department of Human Services did not bother to investigate [David Proffitt's] time at his former employers in any detail, according to interviews with DHS officials and 57 pages of documents related to the hiring provided by the agency in response to an MPR News request. They did not talk to former supervisors before they offered Proffitt the job, ... They did not attempt to contact any of the disgruntled former employees (Baran, 3/30).

(St. Paul) Pioneer Press: House Democrats Unable To Restore Pay Cuts To Personal Care Assistants Of Relatives
Democrats failed in their attempt to amend a Republican bill in the House on Thursday, March 29, so it would restore a wage cut for about 7,000 personal care assistants who provide care to their relatives. Last year, to help balance the state's budget, the Legislature reduced by 20 percent the pay of personal care assistants - PCAs, for short - who care for a relative (Snowbeck, 3/29).

(St. Paul) Pioneer Press: Data Show Minnesota Hospitals Getting Healthier By The Year
Over the past decade, a growing number of hospitals in greater Minnesota have consolidated into larger health systems. Now, a new report shows that those medical centers are doing very well financially (Snowbeck, 3/30).

Kansas Health Institute News: Budget Deal Struck
House and Senate budget negotiators today agreed to postpone dealing with the thorniest issues dividing them until legislators return for the wrap-up session in late April. Among [them]: A House proviso that would block the Kansas Insurance Department from spending any money to implement the federal health reform law until the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on the Affordable Care Act's constitutionality. The Senate did not include the provision in its version of the budget (3/29). 

New Orleans Times-Picayune: New Orleans Children's Hospital Confirms Plan To Buy Empty Adolescent Hospital
Gov. Bobby Jindal's proposed executive budget presumes the sale will net $35 million, with the money eventually distributed to the state public hospital system using a series of complicated budget maneuvers. The administration had not publicly identified Children's Hospital as the buyer, but Jindal's first health secretary, Alan Levine, previously stated his preference for a transfer to Children's (Barrow, 3/29).

The Atlanta Journal Constitution: Georgia Lawmakers Pass Abortion Bill On Last, Emotional Day
Two of the most contentious issues of this year's General Assembly passed on the last day of this year's session, salvaged by Republican leaders who wanted to tout them as major victories this election year. New restrictions on late-term abortions in Georgia, which had appeared dead in the morning, and a bill that would cut unemployment benefits for Georgians, passed with just minutes remaining in the 2012 session….The day's most intense dealmaking was on abortion, the passage of which sparked protests in both the House and Senate (Torres and Quinn).

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis article was reprinted from 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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