Outlets report on news from Georgia, Texas, Colorado, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Ohio.
Georgia Health News: House Panel OKs New Plan To Halt ‘Surprise’ Bills; Doctors Voice Opposition
The House Insurance Committee on Monday passed revamped legislation to reduce “surprise billing,’’ in which patients using hospitals in their insurance network may still get unexpected bills from doctors who are not in the network. Consumers who have procedures or visit ERs at hospitals in their networks often get separate bills for hundreds or even thousands of dollars from non-network doctors who were involved. These bills can come from ER doctors, anesthesiologists and radiologists, among others. (Miller, 3/20)
Texas Tribune: Texas Senate Passes Two Anti-Abortion Bills
Two GOP-backed anti-abortion bills passed the Texas Senate on Monday — one that would prevent parents from suing doctors if their baby is born with a birth defect and another that would require doctors to make sure a fetus is deceased before performing a certain type of abortion. Sen. Brandon Creighton’s Senate Bill 25, a “wrongful births” bill designed to prevent doctors from encouraging abortions to avoid lawsuits, passed 21-9. Creighton said without it, doctors have “an invitation to be sued for just practicing medicine” and might not want to work in the state. (Evans, 3/20)
Denver Post: Fingerprint-Based Criminal Background Check Legislation For Colorado Health Care Professionals Passes Key Hurdles
Spurred on by concerns that dangerous criminals are getting hired to care for ill, disabled and frail patients, legislation that would require fingerprint-based criminal background checks for health care professionals in Colorado passed key hurdles this month. House Bill 17-1121, sponsored by Rep. Janet Buckner, D-Aurora, recently cleared two key House committees and appears headed to the Senate for final consideration. (Osher, 3/20)
Houston Chronicle: Health Agency Investigating Its Privatization Of Medicaid Transport Program
The Texas Health and Human Services Commission has opened an internal investigation into the bungled privatization of a program that transports poor Texans to medical appointments. The probe by the commission’s inspector general, Stuart Bowen, will examine why officials gave lucrative contracts for administration of the program to companies and nonprofit organizations that did not provide cost information and, in some cases, scored poorly on the state’s own rating system. (Rosenthal, 3/20)
Houston Chronicle: One Health Care Disparity Appears To Widen In Houston Area
It takes less time for a new patient to see a doctor in Houston than the national average, but a health care study also finds the percentage of physicians who accept Medicaid and Medicare remains much lower than in other major cities. Taken together, the two measurements could signal a widening disparity in access to health care based on income and insurance availability in Houston, said Phillip Miller, vice president of communications for Merritt Hawkins, a leading national physician search and health care consulting firm. (Deam, 3/20)
The Philadelphia Inquirer: 31 New Jersey Patients Infected After Injections For Knee Pain
New Jersey health officials have identified 31 patients who became infected after receiving injections to treat knee pain at a clinic in Wall Township, Monmouth County. State and local investigators identified “infection control issues” during an inspection of the clinic on March 13, said Donna Leusner, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Health. At least 20 of the patients at Osteo Relief Institute Jersey Shore have needed surgery to treat their infections, said David A. Henry, health officer for the Monmouth County Regional Health Commission. The investigation is ongoing, he said. (Avril, 3/20)
The CT Mirror: The Health Care That Happens Outside The Doctor’s Office
[Nadia] Lugo was working as a community health worker, a role many people involved in health care in Connecticut see as a key way to improve care for high-need patients. The job involves bridging the medical and social service systems and the many other factors in people’s lives that can have as much or more impact on their health than medical care – things like housing, transportation and food. (Levin Becker, 3/21)
Boston Globe: Lawmakers Wrestle With Changes To Marijuana Law
State revenue officials predicted taxes on marijuana could eventually bring in more than $100 million each year. The attorney general’s office encouraged lawmakers to clarify how cities and towns can prohibit pot stores. And a long bearded man argued that bills to adjust the state’s new marijuana law are “essentially shredding the will of the people.” (Miller, 3/21)
Columbus Dispatch: Should Only Ohio Residents Be Allowed To Grow Medical Marijuana In State?
People who want to grow medical marijuana in Ohio are certain about one thing: they don’t want outsiders coming in to take over. The vast majority of more than two-dozens speakers at a public hearing today on marijuana cultivation rules said there should be a residency requirement for those granted licenses to grow pot legally under a new state law. (Johnson, 3/20)
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.