State Highlights: Advocates For Vulnerable Patients Assail ‘Life Robbing’ Budget Cuts In Georgia; Rising Rents Fuel California Homeless Crisis. Will 2020 Bring Change?
Media outlets report on news from Georgia, California, Oregon, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, Mississippi, Wisconsin and Massachusetts.
Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Controversy Over Georgia Mental Health Budget As Needs Grow
Much of state government is facing cuts. But Behavioral Health — Georgia’s agency for people with mental illness, disabilities such as Down syndrome and autism, and addiction problems — has vaulted to prominence as legislative hearings detailed the possible impact on some of the state’s most vulnerable people. The department is under federal supervision after it settled a lawsuit from the U.S. Department of Justice alleging inadequate treatment in the state’s mental health system, dangerous conditions and violence among patients. (Hart, 2/1)
NBC News: California’s Rising Rents, Severe Housing Shortage Fuel Homelessness
The sleeping couple is among 151,000 people living on the streets in California, and as the number climbs each year, many wonder how the state’s housing crisis got so bad. Part of the answer lies in what happened last week when lawmakers failed to pass legislation that promised to ease the housing shortage by creating more density near jobs and transit routes. But opponents said Senate Bill 50 did not do enough to protect low-income residents from gentrification and complained it would take zoning power away from local jurisdictions. Its author, Sen. Scott Weiner, D-San Francisco, said the bill would have been a first step in creating housing. (Lozano, 2/2)
San Francisco Chronicle: Disciplinary Charges Against Santa Rosa Doctor Who Exempted Kids From Vaccines
A state medical official has filed disciplinary charges against a Santa Rosa physician who exempted three healthy youngsters from vaccination, part of a surge of medical exemptions after California repealed parents’ authority to keep their children from being vaccinated because of personal beliefs. The accusations of gross negligence or incompetence could lead to the suspension or revocation of Dr. Ron Kennedy’s license to practice medicine, which he has held since 1975. (Egelko, 2/2)
Cleveland Plain Dealer: Return Of Carfentanil Deaths In Cuyahoga County Has Officials Wary Of ‘Fourth Wave’ Of Opioid Epidemic
One year after Cuyahoga County saw a dramatic decrease in deaths from a powerful fentanyl analogue that is used as an animal sedative, a resurgence of the dangerous drug has officials concerned it could become a deadly “fourth wave” of the opioid epidemic. Cuyahoga County deaths attributed to carfentanil dropped from 191 in 2017 to just 24 in 2018, according to statistics from the medical examiner’s office. (MacDonald, 2/1)
Texas Tribune: How Many Doses Of Lethal Injection Drugs Does Texas Have?
Since 1977, lethal injection has been the method for executing Texas criminals sentenced to death. But the drugs used in executions have changed over the years, as the state has struggled to get a hold of enough life-ending doses. Texas, along with other states that hold executions, has been engaged in a battle for years to keep an adequate inventory of execution drugs. Currently, the state uses only pentobarbital, a sedative it has purchased from compounding pharmacies kept secret from the public. (McCullough, 1/31)
The Oregonian: Push To Ban All Flavored Nicotine Vaping Products In Oregon Moves To Legislature
Monnes Anderson’s bill would bar the sale of all “flavored inhalant delivery system products,” meaning any nicotine vape liquid that tastes like anything except tobacco. Violators would be fined up to $5,000 per violation. The ban wouldn’t include cannabis vapes or products approved by federal regulators for helping people stop smoking. The proposal — and one in the House that would ban internet, mail and telephone sales of vape products in Oregon — are part of a concerted local, state and federal effort to target the explosion of teenage vaping. (Zarkhin, 2/2)
The Associated Press: Mississippi Inmate Tries To Hang Self In Cell, Attorney Says
An inmate tried to hang himself at a troubled Mississippi prison and was taken down by a state trooper, an attorney said in court papers filed Saturday. Casey L. Austin is one of the attorneys representing inmates in a federal lawsuit against Mississippi over conditions in the state’s prisons. The lawsuit over prison conditions is funded by Team Roc, a philanthropic group connected to entertainment mogul Jay-Z’s company, Roc Nation. (2/1)
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Sexual Assault Kit Legislation May Falter Because Of GOP Divisions
With overwhelming support, the Senate in October approved Senate Bill 200, which is meant to prevent backlogs of processing sexual assault kits. It would put in place rules for who is responsible for submitting the kits to the State Crime Laboratory and the timelines they must follow. But the measure has stalled in the Assembly because Rep. Joe Sanfelippo, the New Berlin Republican who leads the Assembly Health Committee, has declined to hold a hearing on the measure. (Marley, 1/31)
North Carolina Health News: Data Show High Levels Of PFAS Pollution In Cape Fear
A water sample taken in September from the Deep River as it flowed into a Sanford sewage treatment plant uncovered “staggering” concentrations of forever chemicals, newly released documents from the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality reveal. The sample contained perfluorooctanesulfonic acid — or PFOS — measuring 1,000 parts per trillion. That is more than 14 times greater than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s health advisory of 70 parts per trillion for drinking water. The data coming out of Sanford is just one example of the high levels of potentially carcinogenic chemicals that a new monitoring program has detected in rivers and streams throughout the Cape Fear River basin, from Reidsville to Wilmington. (Barnes, 2/3)
Boston Globe: Correctional Officer At Norfolk County Jail Fired After Inmate Overdoses
A guard at the Norfolk County House of Correction in Dedham was fired Wednesday after two inmates suffered non-fatal overdoses last weekend, according to a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office. Kara Nyman, the spokeswoman, provided details of the overdoses and subsequent firing in a brief statement. (Andersen and Ellement, 1/31)
Dallas Morning News: Baylor’s Health Plan Worked For Employees, And American Airlines And Others Want In On The Action
Baylor Scott & White Health, the largest nonprofit hospital system in Texas, has managed to keep down health insurance costs for its employees for the past seven years. During that time, the average premium for single coverage increased 28% nationwide, over four times more than at Baylor. And Baylor said it saved $400 million compared with the price of buying a standard plan for employees over the period.The Dallas company attributes much of this success to its accountable care organization, known as the Baylor Scott & White Quality Alliance. Baylor’s ACO is an integrated network of doctors, nurses, social workers and the like that coordinates care and tries to improve outcomes for patients. (Schnurman, 2/2)
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