Outlets report on news from Georgia, New Jersey, District of Columbia, California, Minnesota, Kansas, Florida, Ohio, Iowa, Texas and Connecticut.
Atlanta Journal Constitution: Hospital ‘Provider Fee’ Gains Final Legislative Approval
Legislation needed to renew a fee on Georgia hospitals to help close a more than $900 million gap in Medicaid funding is on its way to Gov. Nathan Deal’s desk. The state House on Friday voted 152-14 to give final approval to Senate Bill 70, which authorizes the Department of Community Health board to levy the fee for another three years. The board is expected to do so quickly if Deal signs the bill into law, as expected. (Gould Sheinin, 2/10)
Press of Atlantic City: Religious Vaccine Exemptions On The Rise In New Jersey
More parents in New Jersey are choosing religious exemptions for child vaccinations, resulting in a steady increase in unvaccinated schoolchildren. The number of state religious exemptions among children in primary school more than doubled within a six-year period. (Leonard, 2/12)
The Associated Press: House Moving To Block DC ‘Death With Dignity’ Law
A House committee is taking up an unusual resolution that would invalidate a local law in the nation’s capital. The House Oversight Committee will vote Monday on whether to send a resolution to the House floor blocking the District of Columbia’s “Death with Dignity” law. Oversight chairman Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican, has vowed to stop the law, calling it “misguided” and immoral. (2/13)
Stat: California’s Criminal Penalties For HIV Transmission Could Be Rolled Back
The state legislature decided in 1988 that somebody who donated blood while knowingly HIV-positive could be punished with up to six years in prison. Ten years later, it became a felony to have unprotected sex with the intent of transmitting HIV to a partner. Now, in 2017, a group of Democratic state lawmakers say times have changed — not that those behaviors shouldn’t be illegal, but that HIV/AIDS shouldn’t be singled out. Under California’s newly introduced Senate Bill 239, intentionally transmitting any infectious or communicable disease, including HIV, would be a misdemeanor, not a felony. (Facher, 2/13)
The Star Tribune: Advocates For Disabled Send A Distress Signal To Legislators
A group of individuals with disabilities, many in wheelchairs, testified at a state Senate hearing last week that Minnesota needs urgent measures to expand the supply of workers who care for tens of thousands of vulnerable adults and children in their homes. The state-funded personal care assistance program, they argue, has not kept pace with burgeoning demand and a more competitive labor market, thrusting many people with complex health needs into life-or-death situations. (Serres, 2/11)
KCUR: More Funding For Mental Health, Disability, Senior Services In Kansas: None Of The Above?
A Kansas House committee overseeing budgets for social services offered appreciation to programs serving the elderly and people with disabilities or mental illnesses. Legislators may not be able to offer much more than that. Rep. Barbara Ballard, ranking minority member on the House Social Services Budget Committee, suggested members approve $250,000 to fund services for seniors, such as bathing and assistance with housework. The funds wouldn’t begin to make up for $2.1 million in cuts to Senior Care Act services last year, she said, but would help Area Agencies on Aging chip away at their waiting lists. (Wingerter, 2/10)
Orlando Sentinel: UCF Helps First Responders Fight PTSD, Pulse Flashbacks
For some, it’s the scent of tequila or the sound of an iPhone ringing. Hearts race, breathing sharpens, palms sweat and suddenly, they’re back at the scene of the most traumatic event most are lucky enough never to have to see. Some Pulse nightclub terror attack first responders say post-traumatic stress disorder triggers can show up in everyday settings, but the University of Central Florida’s Dr. Deborah Beidel says they don’t have to stop sufferers from living their lives. (Doornbos, 2/10)
Columbus Dispatch: State Aid To Vastly Expand Ohio State Program For Victims Of Traumatic Stress
Crawford was seeing a counselor, but it wasn’t helping. Then her husband told her about the Stress, Trauma and Resilience program, or STAR, at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center, where Crawford learned ways to cope with her anxiety so she could function again. “It absolutely changed my life,” said Crawford, now 30.The program, started eight years ago, offers psychological treatment to people affected by crime and other traumas. It’s on the verge of expanding with an $839,335 grant from the Ohio attorney general’s office that will more than quadruple the budget. (Viviano, 2/12)
Des Moines Register: Health Care Stripped From Collective Bargaining As Statewide Insurance Plan Takes Shape
Sweeping changes proposed to Iowa’s collective bargaining laws would block most public-sector unions from negotiating over health insurance, though they stop short of instituting a mandatory statewide health insurance system Gov. Terry Branstad has floated. Republican leaders say they considered including such a plan in the legislation, but felt it could be too restrictive. Instead, the bill leaves open the possibility for a voluntary statewide health insurance program that employers could opt into. (Pfannenstiel, 2/10)
California Healthline: California Regulator Slams Health Insurers Over Faulty Doctor Lists
California’s biggest health insurers reported inaccurate information to the state on which doctors are in their networks, offering conflicting lists that differed by several thousand physicians, according to a new state report. Shelley Rouillard, director of the California Department of Managed Health Care, said 36 of 40 health insurers she reviewed — including industry giants like Aetna and UnitedHealthcare — could face fines for failing to submit accurate data or comply with state rules. (Terhune, 2/10)
Cleveland Plain Dealer: Painesville’s Latino Community Rallies Around Neighbor After Brain Surgery
Juan [Horta] was diagnosed with xanthoastrocytoma, an uncommon and aggressive brain tumor. Stage three. A surgeon at University Hospitals removed the tumor, and Juan was sent to a nursing home to recover. Caesar, and his mother, Maria Guillen, visited daily. They noticed what Caesar called “a ball” on the back of Juan’s neck, and it was getting bigger by the day. On the fifth day, Juan was unresponsive. The “ball” was filled with cerebrospinal fluid, and Juan needed another surgery to insert a shunt… As an undocumented immigrant, he is not qualified for public benefits, including Medicaid. Government programs require proof of legal immigration. Once that proof is supplied, it is still five years before immigrants can apply for assistance. (Ischay, 2/11)
Health News Florida: Florida Lawmakers Move Forward On Effort To Require Autism Law Enforcement Training
A bill requiring autism awareness training for law enforcement officers is starting to move in both chambers of the Florida Legislature. It comes after a high profile incident that occurred in South Florida last year involving a black man, an autistic man, and law enforcement. (Cordner, 2/12)
Texas Tribune: How Texas Pimps Recruit And Sell Underage Girls For Sex
Texas Tribune reporters talked to three convicted traffickers to try to understand the power they wield over victims and the attraction of what they call “the lifestyle.” They explained how vulnerable kids end up in the sex trade and how the business works. The interviews also revealed a common thread between pimps and their victims: the poverty and violence in their backgrounds. (Walters, Satija and Smith, 2/13)
New Haven Independent: Cigarette Tax Hike: Promoting Health Or Penalizing The Poor?
The two New Haven state representatives offered those takes Wednesday after Gov. Dannel P. Malloy proposed proposed a $40.6 billion two-year budget that included raising the taxes on a pack of cigarettes by 45 cents, to bring the total cost to $4.35… The problem, argued Rep. Porter, whose district includes New Haven’s Newhallville neighborhood, is that it can also end up punishing poor people for their patterns of addiction without offering alternative treatment programs or therapies, like smoking cessation counseling. Lower-income people smoke at disproportionately higher rates. (Gellman, 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.