State highlights: Free Calif. health care clinic a big draw; New Calif. law could mean mammogram alternatives

A selection of health policy stories from California and North Carolina.

Los Angeles Times: Free Health Care Clinic At LA Sports Arena Draws 4,800
Many of the 4,800 people seeking care at the annual massive free clinic this weekend will become eligible for health insurance in 2014 when the national law takes effect. Organizers said raising awareness about the health care changes is crucial (Gorman, 9/27).

San Francisco Chronicle: Law May Encourage Mammogram Alternatives
A new law that will require California doctors to tell women if they have highly dense breast tissue is expected to increase demand for alternatives to mammography to screen patients for breast cancer. The potential market is huge: About 40 percent of women have tissue that is dense enough that cancer may be missed through conventional mammography. The law says that beginning in April, patients must be told a "range of screening options" are available, but it does not specify those methods or require health insurers to cover them (Colliver, 9/27).

California Healthline: New Attention To End-Of-Life Care
Partnership HealthPlan of California, a health insurer covering roughly 200,000 Medi-Cal beneficiaries in six Northern California counties, has decided to offer the optional benefit of palliative care to its members. … The state doesn't currently offer the enhanced benefit, in part due to budget concerns, but [Partnership HealthPlan's medical director] said the cost of palliative care is offset by less necessity to provide other types of care that may not actually benefit the patient or the family, he said (Gorn, 9/28).

North Carolina Health News: Public Health Workers Express Frustration With New Law
With the passage of a new law this past year, county public health agencies could look very different -- and some public health professionals are making their unhappiness about it known. At a meeting of the N.C. Public Health Association last week at the New Bern Convention Center, state Sen. Fletcher Hartsell (R-Cabarrus) was forced to defend a bill he shepherded through during this year's legislative session that allows county boards of commissioners to disband local boards of health and assume their powers. The new law also allows for county commissioners to consolidate public health and social services agencies, and creates incentives for smaller counties to join together to provide services across county lines (Hoban, 9/27).

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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