State Roundup: Ind. Mandate Back On Fla. Ballot; Ga. Hospital Tax Fight Rages OnOctober 3, 2012
A selection of health policy stories from Florida, Massachusetts, Georgia, Ohio, Alaska, Texas, Vermont, California and Connecticut.
The New York Times: GOP Aims To Remake Florida Supreme Court
In a bid to remake Florida’s judiciary, Republicans are asking voters to oust three state Supreme Court justices and give the Legislature greater power over Supreme Court appointments. … In Florida, the issue is not same-sex marriage but another politically divisive matter: President Obama’s health care law. In a 2010 ruling, the Florida Supreme Court removed from the ballot a nonbinding amendment allowing Floridians to refuse to buy mandatory health insurance. The justices ruled that the required ballot summary contained “misleading and ambiguous language” and asked the Legislature to fix it. Lawmakers did, and it is back on the ballot this year (Alverez, 10/2).
The Boston Globe: Mass. Medical Society Survey: More Doctors Embracing New Payment Models
Doctors in Massachusetts may be looking a bit more favorably on new payment methods created under state and federal laws, according to a survey of 1,095 practicing physicians by the Massachusetts Medical Society. About 49 percent of respondents said they are likely to participate in a voluntary global payment system, in which doctors are paid a fixed rate to manage the care of a group of patients (Conaboy, 10/2).
Georgia Health News: Hospitals Respond To Norquist Letter On Provider Tax
The battle over Georgia’s hospital tax suddenly heated up last week, ignited by the attention-grabbing entrance of national anti-tax leader Grover Norquist. The Washington-based activist, in a letter to Georgia legislators, said renewing the hospital fee, which raises money for the state’s Medicaid program, would kill jobs and raise health costs. … Now, some major Georgia hospital organizations have fired back at Norquist and come out strongly in support of the tax, which expires in July (Miller, 10/2).
The Associated Press: Judge Ends Oversight Of Ohio Prisons’ Health Care
A federal judge on Tuesday ended the court’s oversight of Ohio’s prison medical system after finding that health care and services for the nearly 50,000 inmates have greatly improved over the last seven years. U.S. District Court Judge Sandra Beckwith had overseen the prisons’ medical system since a 2005 settlement of a lawsuit brought by Ohio Justice and Policy Center, a Cincinnati-based prisoner rights group (Welsh-Huggins, 10/2).
The Associated Press: Health Care Jobs To See Highest Rate Of Job Growth
The health care and social assistance industry is expected to see the largest rate of job growth in Alaska this decade. That’s according to the employment forecast for 2010-2020, released by the state labor department on Monday. It estimates that Alaska will add nearly 40,000 jobs during that period, an increase of 12 percent, with nearly all sectors gaining (10/2).
Houston Chronicle: Supporters Celebrate Felony Mental Health Court
State District Judge Jan Krocker’s voice cracked as she talked Tuesday about a Hispanic teenager in jail persuading a grizzled and tattooed former white supremacist to get mental health help earlier this year. Krocker and others celebrated the official opening of Harris County’s felony mental health court, which started putting mentally ill defendants on probation instead of sending them to jail in May. Krocker has been working to get a special court to oversee felony cases of defendants diagnosed with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and severe depression since 2009 (Rogers, 10/2).
The Associated Press: Vt. Board Approves Hospital Budgets
A Vermont board says budgets for Vermont’s 14 hospitals for the next fiscal year are not on a sustainable path. The Green Mountain Care Board said Tuesday that it approved budgets that will result in 5.1 percent increase in hospital net patient revenue for fiscal year 2013. The board had set a target increase of 3.75 percent (10/2).
HealthyCal: Orange County Clinics Pilot Patient Centered Care
Orange County has gotten an early start on health care reform with a pilot program testing a new approach to care for the low-income and uninsured in three clinics. The Coalition of Orange County Community Clinics (COCCC) is piloting a program for patient-centered care with UCI Family Health Center, Serve the People and The Vietnamese Community of Orange County’s Asian Health Center clinics. The initiative’s goal is for local safety-net providers and local health plans to partner together to coordinate care for their patients (Afrasiabi, 10/2).
The CT Mirror: Blumenthal, Advocates For Elderly Target ‘Chemical Restraint’ Abuse At Care Facilities
Calling it a form of chemical restraint, Sen. Richard Blumenthal and advocates for the elderly Tuesday blasted the practice of prescribing antipsychotic drugs for dementia patients in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. “It is a form of elder abuse. It’s chemical restraint — no less pernicious and insidious than physical restraint of patients — and it should be stopped,” Blumenthal said. During a press conference at the Capitol, Blumenthal announced that he has introduced a bill to crack down on the overprescription of these off-label drugs (Merritt, 10/2).
California Healthline: Governor Nixes Long List Of Health Bills
Gov. Jerry Brown (D) vetoed a number of health care bills over the weekend. They ranged from a program designed to improve flu vaccinations among health care workers, to a proposal to define and promote patient-centered medical homes, to a regulation on hospital-nurse staffing ratios. The governor had a variety of reasons he gave for the different vetoes, but at least one of those explanations didn’t make much sense, according Assembly member Henry Perea (D-Fresno). Perea is the author of AB 1000, a measure designed to make oral chemotherapy more affordable and accessible for Californians. “While I support the author’s efforts to make oral chemotherapy treatments more affordable for the insured, this bill doesn’t distinguish between health plans and insurers who make these drugs available at a reasonable cost and those who do not,” Brown wrote in his veto message (Gorn, 10/2).
Los Angeles Times: LA Billionaire Teams With Insurer On Personalized Medicine
Los Angeles billionaire and health care entrepreneur Patrick Soon-Shiong reached an agreement with insurer Blue Shield of California aimed at accelerating medical breakthroughs to doctors and patients to improve care and reduce costs. Soon-Shiong, a former UCLA surgeon and drug-company executive, announced the deal Tuesday between his NantHealth company and Blue Shield, a nonprofit insurer with 3.3 million customers in California (Terhune, 10/2).
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