State highlights: Mayo seeks Minn. help for Rochester expansion; Texas bill on end-of-life treatment offered; Milwaukee County board considers dropping employee coverage

A selection of health policy stories from California, New York, Texas, Minnesota, Florida and Wisconsin.

MPR News: Mayo Clinic Seeks State Help For Rochester Expansion (Audio)
The Mayo Clinic is proposing more than $5 billion in investments in and around Rochester as part of an ambitious expansion plan to create what the clinic calls a "Destination Medical Center." Included in that plan is a request for more than $500 million in state taxpayer money to help fund infrastructure as the Mayo grows. Mayo claims the plan would create between 35,000 and 45,000 new jobs. Mayo is already Minnesota's largest private employer with 32,000 employees in the state (1/31).

The Texas Tribune: Bill Would Clarify End-Of-Life Treatment
Sen. Robert Deuell, R-Greenville, filed legislation Thursday that provides clarification to Texas' Advanced Directives Act, which sets out the end-of-life care for patients. Deuell's bill adds language that specifically addresses patients "for whom life-sustaining treatment would be medically inappropriate and ineffective," Dr. Arlo Weltge said. It also sets out a longer timeline for notifications and an appeals process for families or surrogates of terminally ill patients who disagree with the patient or the doctor's wishes for treatment (Schneider, 1/31).

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Milwaukee County Board Panel Sidetracks Proposal To Consider Dropping Health Insurance
Milwaukee County supervisors Thursday sidetracked a request for a staff report on the potential for savings if the county dropped its employee health insurance and instead encouraged workers to obtain their own coverage under provisions of the new federal health care law. In calling for the study, Supervisor Deanna Alexander noted the county faces a long-term funding gap and a looming crisis in transportation funding. She said the county could save up to $103.5 million in health insurance costs if it stopped providing health insurance and paid the $2,000 per employee penalty that would be assessed under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Schultze, 1/31).

California Healthline: How Might Immgration Reform Influence Health Care Reform?
Immigrants -- both those who are documented and those who are not -- are less likely to have health insurance than their U.S.-born counterparts. Almost half the documented immigrants in the U.S. do not have health coverage, according to 2011 Employee Benefit Research Institute statistics. In California, which has one of the country's largest immigrant populations, immigration policies influence health care policies. Some contend that health care policies influence immigration. We asked policymakers, immigration experts and consumer advocates how immigration reform might influence health care reform in California (1/31).

Kaiser Health News: NYU Langone Has Reopened, But Can It Regain Market Share?
As of mid-January, most of NYU is up and running again, including the labor and delivery unit. But the question still looms whether NYU will lose some of the patients and even doctors who sought refuge at NYU's biggest competitors after the storm. If that happens, the storm could end up having a long term impact on NYU's valuable share of the fiercely competitive health care market in New York City (Gold, 2/1).

Los Angeles Times: Glendale Memorial Hospital Employees Protest Planned Layoffs
Nurses, technicians and other employees gathered outside Glendale Memorial Hospital on Thursday morning to protest planned layoffs. The hospital last week announced plans to lay off an undetermined number of employees, citing an increase in the number of uninsured patients caused by the lengthy economic recession and cuts in government insurance programs (Wells, 1/31).

San Francisco Chronicle: Dental Clinic Proves Importance Of Care
Jabari Kelly showed up at San Francisco General Hospital's dental clinic last Friday looking like he was hiding a golf ball in his left cheek. He had been in pain for three weeks. The 36-year-old San Francisco man had an infected wisdom tooth, and swelling had spread into his jaw and cheek. A few more days, he was told, and the infection could have advanced below his chin, possibly restricting his breathing. "You've got 32 teeth -- each one can kill you," said Dr. Newton Gordon, a dentist and UCSF School of Dentistry professor. Kelly lacks dental insurance and said he had not been to a dentist in two years. His dental problems were more extreme than most, but they illustrate the importance of preventive dental care and the larger ties between dental health and overall health (Joseph, 1/31).

MPR News: Webcam Connect Pharmacists To Immobile Minn. Seniors
Virtual visits with pharmacists may become more common under the federal health care overhaul. For some seniors, getting out to see a pharmacist can be difficult in good weather and treacherous during Minnesota winters. But it's an essential trip for many; prescription drugs can keep serious illnesses in check, if they're taken as prescribed and managed effectively. … Ensuring that patients take their medicine correctly can keep chronic health problems from spiraling out of control and into emergency rooms, intensive care units or worse. Reducing preventable hospital re-admissions is a key strategy to containing costs in the federal health care law (Stawicki, 1/31).

MPR News: Report: Minn. Medical Errors Hold Steady, But Some Improvements Seen
Minnesota hospitals and surgical centers had about as many serious medical errors in 2012 as they did the year before, but there's still some hard-won improvements among the mistakes. That's according to the 9th-annual "Adverse Health Events in Minnesota," a study published by the state's Department of Health, summarizing the mandatory reports of serious injuries and deaths suffered by patients in medical facilities. The state summary was released Thursday morning. Care providers reported 314 adverse events in 2012, down slightly from 316 the year before, and about the same as the 310 reported in 2010. The errors led to 89 serious injuries and 14 deaths last year, up from five deaths in 2011 (Nelson, 1/31).

Miami Herald: Report Shows Health Concerns In Broward's Black Communities
A swath of low-income communities wedged between Interstate 95 and the turnpike, and stretching from Fort Lauderdale to Lauderdale Lakes and Lauderhill, is home to the highest diabetes rates in Broward County. That's one of the most troubling findings from a "state of black Broward health report"' released Thursday by the Urban League of Broward County (Burch, 1/31).

MinnPost: Dayton's Human Services Budget Drawing General Enthusiasm From Health Care Legislators
Lawmakers across a broad political spectrum have praised Gov. Mark Dayton's human services budget --  nearly a third of state expenditures -- even if they haven't had an opportunity to fully digest the dense spreadsheets yet. Health and Human Services committees in both chambers are plodding through the complicated budget proposal with the help of Dayton administration officials this week (Nord, 1/31).

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.



The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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