State Highlights: High-Profile Measure On Surprise Medical Bills Fails In Ga. Legislature; Fla. Universities Make Plea For Mental Health Funding

Surprise Medical Bills

Media outlets report on news from Georgia, California, Texas, Florida, Maryland, Wisconsin, New Hampshire and Ohio.

Georgia Health News: Celebration And Frustration As Legislative Session Closes
The final day of the Georgia General Assembly brought last-minute approval of some health care bills – along with disappointment over pieces of legislation that didn’t pass. The failures included the high-profile effort to halt “surprise’’ medical bills, and a proposal to require Georgia schools and day care centers to test their drinking fountains and sinks for lead contamination in the water. (Miller, 3/31)

Sacramento Bee: California Cigarette Tax Goes Up By $2
The cost of cigarettes sold in California will go up significantly, starting Saturday. That’s when the provisions of Proposition 56 – formally known as the California Healthcare, Research and Prevention Tobacco Tax Act of 2016 and approved by voters last November– go into effect. The cigarette tax rate on Saturday spikes from the current 87 cents to $2.87 per pack of 20 cigarettes. (Glover, 3/30)

California Healthline: California Doctors Again Press For More Money To Treat Poor Patients
California’s doctors and dentists have renewed their push for more money to treat Medicaid patients now that the state has been spared the drastic cuts proposed under the failed GOP health care bill. But Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown — and some health advocates — say they have other priorities for improving the low-income health program, which serves some 14 million residents, or about a third of the state’s population. (Feder Ostrov, 3/30)

Texas Tribune: Despite Concerns, Texas Legislators Push To Regulate Powdered Alcohol
Andrea Marquez came to a House committee hearing Monday armed with three things: Kool-Aid packets, her makeup bag and a big bottle of Jack Daniels. The 17-year-old high school student from El Paso told the House Licensing and Administrative Committee hearing Monday that the Kool-Aid pouches were the same size as packets that could hold powdered alcohol — a form of dehydrated booze that can be mixed with water, soda or juice. (Samuels, 3/30)

Houston Chronicle: CHI St. Luke’s Announces Biggest Round Of Layoffs Yet 
St. Luke’s Health System said Thursday that it and a sister network in Bryan-College Station had cut their payroll by another 620 employees, the biggest fallout yet from the Colorado-based parent company’s continuing financial slide. The purge, which includes 459 layoffs, has brought the total number of cuts at Catholic Health Initiatives’ Texas division since August to 1,295, about 30 percent more than MD Anderson Cancer Center’s 1,000-employee workforce reduction in January. In those seven months, St. Luke’s has laid off 810 employees, compared to MD Anderson’s 788. (Ackerman, 3/30)

The Baltimore Sun: Health Facility For Firefighters Opens In Columbia
An open house was held Thursday for a new health facility for firefighters in Howard County that opened earlier this month. Officials said the facility creates an opportunity for firefighters to receive specialized care in a profession where occupational health hazards are often not fully addressed by traditional clinics…Before the facility opened, the department contracted services with another company, but that option was often inefficient, officials said. Sudden cardiac death accounts for most on-duty deaths, according to a 2016 study by the National Fire Protection Association, a nonprofit that outlines fire and building safety standards. (Wasson, 3/31)

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Liver Doctor In Need Of Kidney Transplant
Dr. Moises Garcia’s goal in treating patients with liver ailments is to provide medical care to head off transplants, but his work also keeps him in contact with those who have undergone, or will undergo, that operation. Now, in an unusual twist, Garcia faces the prospect of a transplant himself. A degenerative disease he’s known about for decades has him searching for a kidney donor. (Phelps, 3/30)

New Hampshire Public Radio: Former N.H. Chief Justice Joins Dartmouth-Hitchcock
A former Chief Justice of the New Hampshire Supreme Court has been hired to work for Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. Former Chief Justice John Broderick will start next week as Senior Director for Public Affairs. Dartmouth-Hitchcock says Broderick will advocate on behalf of the hospital to policymakers and business and community leaders in the region. (Rodolico, 3/30)

Cleveland Plain Dealer: Summa Health Deploys HoloLens Technology To Design High-Efficiency Operating Rooms
Summa Health staffers of every stripe on Thursday experienced mixed-reality technology to help design operating rooms that will be built in the health system’s new West Tower. Summa is one of the first hospital systems in the country to use Microsoft HoloLens technology to design its operating rooms. The health system will break ground in May for the $350-million, 300,000-square-foot building that will serve as the new front door to the Akron Campus. (Conn, 3/30)

Sacramento Bee: No Longer Conjoined, Sandoval Twins Return To Their Antelope Home
After a harrowing separation surgery and a long recovery in two different hospitals, formerly conjoined twins Eva and Erika Sandoval made the journey back to their Antelope home Wednesday afternoon in separate car seats. The 2-year-old sisters, born conjoined from the chest down, were separated Dec. 6 at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford. During a 17-hour procedure, a team of 50 medical staff split their shared liver, pelvis and digestive system and removed the third leg they once shared. Each girl now has a full set of organs and one leg of her own. (Caiola, 3/29) x

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