State Highlights: Surprise Medical Bill Measure Progresses In Ariz. Legislature; Conn. Claims One Of The Lowest Rates Of Uninsurance Naitonally

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Outlets report on news from Arizona, Connecticut, California, Missouri, Minnesota, Ohio, Georgia and Washington, D.C.

Arizona Republic: Arizona Lawmakers Propose Relief For Consumers From Unexpected Medical Bills
Health-care consumers who have been stung by surprise medical bills might soon find some relief from an unexpected source: the Arizona Legislature. The problem occurs when a consumer seeks care after checking to be sure a doctor, clinic or hospital is part of their insurance company’s network — only to be billed later by out-of-network providers such as anesthesiologists or surgical assistants who were part of the chain of care. That can sometimes result in a whopping medical tab, with the consumer caught between an insurance company that doesn’t want to pay more and a medical provider who refuses to accept less. (Alltucker, 2/15)

The CT Mirror: CT Uninsured Rate Among Lowest In The Country, Report Says
Connecticut had one of the lowest rates of uninsured residents in the country last year, according to estimates from a federal survey released this week. The estimates from the National Health Interview Survey, released by the National Center for Health Statistics, pegged Connecticut’s uninsured rate at 3.5 percent – but the authors warned that that figure should be used with caution because the potential for error “does not meet standards of reliability or precision.” (Levin Becker, 2/16)

KQED: California Prisons Fight To Reduce Dangerous ‘Valley Fever’ Infections Among Inmates
When the wind kicks up in the town of Coalinga, dust devils whirl over almond orchards and pumpjacks. You can even see the narrow brown funnels from the grounds of Pleasant Valley State Prison, on the outskirts of town.But at the prison itself, there’s hardly any dust. That’s evidence of years of work by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to reduce and control the San Joaquin Valley’s ubiquitous wind-borne dust. The dust carries the spores of the debilitating fungal disease known as coccidioidomycosis, or “valley fever.” (Klein, 2/15)

St. Louis Public Radio: Refugee Restrictions Disrupt Work Of St. Louis Disease Researchers 
President Donald Trump’s executive order last month reduced the cap of refugees allowed into the United States from 110,000 to 50,000. That means that fewer refugees will be resettled into areas like St. Louis. But the cap also is curtailing disease research across the country. To understand diseases that are widespread in poor, war-torn countries, scientists study refugees from those nations that are infected with those diseases. (Chen, 2/15)

The Star Tribune: Resident Dies After Eden Prairie Caregiver Forgot To Plug In Heart Pump
A distracted aide at an Eden Prairie assisted-living center failed to plug in a resident’s heart pump at bedtime, and the man didn’t live through the night, according to a state investigation released Wednesday. The state Health Department found the facility, Aging Joyfully, at fault in the July 10 death because it had no procedure to ensure the pump would keep operating when switched every night from batteries to electricity from an outlet. (Walsh, 2/15)

San Jose Mercury News: Sunnyvale School Grocery Program Provides Weekend Meals To Students 
For many parents, San Miguel Elementary School is not just a place to fill their children’s minds but their stomachs as well. Since 2015 the school has participated in the Weekend School Food Program organized by Sunnyvale Community Services in partnership with the Sunnyvale School District. The program allows parents and other residents to pick up 32 pounds of donated food twice a month on Fridays. (Kezra, 2/15)

The Washington Post: ‘Urgent Care On Wheels’: Fire Departments Rescuing Patients From Costly ER Trips
In the 15 minutes after firefighters and a nurse knocked at Thelma Lee’s Maryland townhouse, they checked her blood pressure, told her what foods would keep her blood sugar from skyrocketing and set up an appointment — and a ride — to visit her primary-care physician. They also changed the battery in her chirping fire alarm and put a scale in her bathroom so she could monitor her weight. Then they rolled out in an SUV to their next house call. (Bui and Williams, 2/15)

San Jose Mercury News: Palo Alto Marsh To Get Mosquito Control Treatment
Palo Alto’s flood basin and nearby areas will be sprayed Thursday, Feb. 23 with a pesticide in an effort to reduce the growth of salt marsh mosquitoes, which are known for being “very vicious biters.” Russ Parman, assistant manager of the Santa Clara County Vector Control District, said the day-biting salt marsh mosquitoes are not known to transmit diseases such as West Nile or Zika. Officials are concerned, however, that treatment delays caused by winter storms will result in a “big cohort of mosquitoes,” Parman said. (Lee, 2/15)

Cleveland Plain Dealer: 4th Ohio Child Dies Of Flu-Related Illness: What You Need To Know 
A 7-year-old Columbiana County boy who died on Saturday of flu-related illness marked the fourth such death in the state so far this flu season, coming only two days after the death of a Rocky River 6 year old. Eva Harris of Rocky River died February 9th after being admitted to the Cleveland Clinic with a high fever two days earlier. The Columbiana County child was the second from that county to die of flu-related illness since the January 25th death of a 6-year-old Salem boy. (Zeltner, 2/15)

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