State Highlights: In Va., Legislation Mandating Birth-Control Coverage Progresses; Colo. Gov. Appointee Aggressively Challenges Small Businesses On Disability Issues

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Outlets report on news from Virginia, Colorado, Kansas, Tennessee, California, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida.

Denver Post: 64 Lawsuits In Two Months: Are Recent ADA Suits ‘Drive-By’ Litigation Or A Tool To Help The Disabled? 
A gubernatorial appointee who chairs the Colorado Developmental Disabilities Council has filed dozens of lawsuits against small businesses over the past two months claiming they violate federal disability laws. The 64 lawsuits filed so far by Mellisa Umphenour of Arvada are nearly identical in content and scope to scores of others filed in U.S. District Court last year in Colorado – and thousands of others filed in federal courts nationwide the past few years. Umphenour filed the suits on behalf of her 11-year-old son, who is disabled. Often called “drive-by lawsuits,” they rely on the Americans with Disabilities Act and are often filed by disabled people or their caretakers. (Migoya, 2/13)

KCUR: The High Cost Of Allowing Concealed Carry In KU Hospital 
The fight is raging on in Topeka over whether to roll back a law that would let almost anyone carry a concealed gun on a college campus, in a library or public hospital. The debate has mostly been around whether guns enhance or detract from people’s safety. Less talked about is just how much allowing guns on campuses could cost. For one Kansas City area institution it could run into the millions. Most Kansas Board of Regents institutions have said they have little choice but to let people carry concealed weapons on university or community college campuses. Any of the institutions could prohibit guns but they would have to buy metal detectors and post armed guards at each entrance of every area that they want to keep firearm-free. (Zeff, 2/13)

The Associated Press: Artificial Insemination Parenting Bill Draws LGBT Criticism
Two Tennessee lawmakers want to do away with a 40-year-old state law granting legitimacy to children conceived through artificial insemination. Critics say the bill is aimed at gay couples and their children. The bill would remove a single sentence applying to child custody when artificial insemination is involved, one that’s been interpreted to make no distinction between same-sex and heterosexual couples. But opponents warn that changing the law could prevent both same-sex parents from appearing on the children’s birth certificates, affecting their ability to make parenting decisions ranging from medical care to education. (Schelzig, 2/13)

Reuters: California Lawmaker Makes Push For Health Warning Labels On Soda
A California state senator is taking another stab at introducing a law that would require sugary drink manufacturers to put a warning label on their products, the latest effort in the “War on Sugar.” Officials and public health advocates have heightened their criticism of sugar as a key contributor to health epidemics like obesity and diabetes, and California has become a major battleground in the fight against what they say is excessive sugar consumption. (Prentice, 2/13)

The Philadelphia Inquirer: Bankrupt North Philadelphia Health System In Deal To Sell St. Joseph’s Hospital
Bankrupt North Philadelphia Health System has reached a deal to sell its shuttered St. Joseph’s Hospital at Sixteenth Street and Girard Avenue for $8.1 million to MMP Hospital Partners LLC., according to a bankruptcy-court motion Monday. The agreement of sale, dated Feb. 13, was signed by David Waxman, managing partner at MMPartners LLC., which has been building in Brewerytown since 2001. Waxman declined to comment on the pending purchase. The health system filed a motion Monday to be able to sell the property free and clear of liens, which would then attach to the net proceeds. (Brubaker, 2/13)

Los Angeles Times: South Gate Teacher Gets Meningitis And Dies, And Parents Worry About Health Risks
A teacher at Montara Avenue Elementary School in South Gate died last week after contracting meningitis, leading parents to worry about whether their children might have been exposed. The Los Angeles Unified School District issued a statement saying the Los Angeles County Public Health Department “is taking appropriate measures to identify and protect those who may have come in contact with our employee. They have provided preventative antibiotics, as well as information about meningococcal disease.” (Kohli, 2/13)

Denver Post: How Clear Creek County Is Spurring Economic Revival, One Patient At A Time 
The Jacob House — a century-old, single-story brick bungalow — is set to become the first primary care medical clinic the mountain community has had in years, an asset Clear Creek County leaders say is required to keep both residents and the local economy healthy. With no doctor’s office or hospital within many snow-packed, traffic-jammed miles of the county’s towns, Clear Creek County EMS is the only source of medical care for the community of about 9,000 people and the tens of thousands of motorists passing through each day. That dearth of options has led people to languish without care and proved a deal killer for highly sought employers considering a move to town. (Paul, 2/13)

Cincinnati Enquirer: Lawsuit: Lacking Mental Health Treatment In Warren County Jail Led To Suicide
A lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court last week claims that officials and employees at the Warren County Jail repeatedly failed to address the mental health issues of a man who eventually hanged himself with a sheet in his cell. Justin Cory Stewart was arrested April 19 for failing to comply with mental health treatment, a condition of his probation related to a previous conviction. He took his own life on Aug. 30. (Knight, 2/13)

Health News Florida: Doctor Wins $1.5M In Case Of Mistaken Identity 
When an individual goes up against a multibillion-dollar company, odds of prevailing are slim. But every now and then, justice smiles on the little guy. It’s smiling on Tampa internist Jose Ignacio Lopez, who won $1.5 million in a slander suit against a global health-finance powerhouse. Of the award, $1 million constitutes punitive damages for “gross negligence” by OptumRx Inc., a subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group Inc. OptumRx was negligent in two ways, the arbitrators said:  It said bad things about an innocent doctor and then failed to correct the mistake. (Gentry, 2/13)

WBUR: New Cleveland Police Training Accounts For Addiction, Mental Illness In Arrests 
Tanisha Anderson was 37 years old, suffering from mental illness, when she died in an encounter with Cleveland police in 2014. Her family recently settled a $2.25 million lawsuit against the city. Anderson’s death sparked a court-ordered agreement to reform Cleveland’s police department, which the U.S. Justice Department said showed a pattern of using excessive force on people with mental illness. Now, Cleveland police, in cooperation with the Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board of Cuyahoga County, are unveiling a new set of guidelines and training on how law enforcement treats suspects with mental illness and addiction. (Young, 2/13)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.