Media outlets report on news from Michigan, Connecticut, Maine, New York, Georgia, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Texas, and New Jersey.
The Associated Press: Michigan Supreme Court Hears Case Over Flint Water Liability
Lawyers urged the Michigan Supreme Court on Wednesday to clear the way for Flint residents to sue state officials over lead-contaminated water. The case at the state’s highest court is one of many in state and federal courts over the scandal. What’s unique, however, is that it could break ground in exposing public officials to liability over alleged violations of the state constitution. (3/4)
The CT Mirror: Lawmakers Consider Broadened “Red Flag” Law
In an attempt to modernize Connecticut’s first-in-the-nation “Red Flag” law, lawmakers are proposing a bill that would broaden who can request that guns be removed from people deemed a danger to themselves or others. “As effective as our law has been, it’s not as robust as we have seen in best practices in other states,” said Rep. Steven Stafstrom, a Bridgeport Democrat and co-chair of the Judiciary Committee. “These are critical changes in order to make this law work better for us and for the state of Connecticut.” (Lyons, 3/4)
Bangor Daily News: Every Maine County Rejected A Bid To Kill A New Vaccine Law. Here’s How Your Town Voted.
Every county in Maine voted on Tuesday to decisively reject a people’s veto effort to repeal a stricter vaccine law, with only a handful of mostly small towns across the state voting “yes” on Question 1. The law, which will eliminate religious and philosophical exemptions for mandatory vaccinations, passed largely along partisan lines in the Legislature last year, clearing the Maine Senate by only one vote. Conservatives argued that it infringed on personal and religious freedoms, while Democrats in the Legislature said increasing vaccination rates was important for public health. (Piper, 3/4)
Stateline: New York Legislators Pass Rear Seat Belt Bill
The New York state legislature has passed a measure that would require rear seat passengers age 16 and over, including those in ride-hailing vehicles, to wear a seat belt. The state Senate voted 54-8 to approve the bill, which the Assembly already passed. It now heads to Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has voiced support for the measure. (Bergal, 3/4)
The New York Times: A Bowery Chapel Once Let Homeless New Yorkers Sleep Inside. No More.
Sha’id Muwakkil hunched his shoulders against an icy wind blowing along the Bowery, furrowed his brow and considered where he might spend the night. He would probably end up inside the subway system or a 24-hour fast food restaurant, Mr. Muwakkil said. A year ago he might have slept inside the Bowery Mission, one of New York City’s oldest and best-known homeless aid organizations, where he had just finished dinner. (Moynihan, 3/5)
Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Laws Requiring HIV-Positive To Disclose Status Could Change
House Bill 719, seeks to lower the state’s criminal penalties for HIV-positive people who have sex, share needles or donate blood without making known their status. Those who don’t disclose face felony charges and up to 10 years in prison even if the virus is not transmitted. The new bill would downgrade penalties to misdemeanors punishable by up to a year behind bars, but only if criminal intent to infect someone can be proven. (Hallerman, 3/4)
Modern Healthcare: ‘Record-High’ Medical Costs Squeeze Net Income At N.C. Blues
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina reported Wednesday that “record-high” medical expenses and lower premiums contributed to a large drop in net income in 2019. Claims and medical expenses for fully insured members reached $7.3 billion last year, a 7.4% increase over 2018. The N.C. Blues affiliate said price increases for injectable drugs and infusions, specialty drugs, and treatments for chronic conditions, including hemophilia and anemia, drove the higher medical costs, which translated to about $5,600 per fully insured member. (Livingston, 3/4)
Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Bill Seeking To Regulate Cosmetic Surgery Centers Clears Georgia Senate
A Cobb County senator said she wants Georgia to better regulate cosmetic surgery centers, where botched procedures taken a number of lives in recent years. State Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick, a Marietta Republican, said “medispas” receive business licenses through the Secretary of State’s office, but — since they are not categorized as health care facilities — don’t have to adhere to state regulations. (Prabhu, 3/4)
Boston Globe: Awaiting State Action, Newton Schools Implement Their Own Sex Ed Programs
As the Massachusetts House considers a bill to regulate sex education programs, schools in Newton have been implementing their own curriculum, which school officials say is inclusive of LGBTQ students of various ages and gender identities. The Massachusetts Senate passed the latest version of the bill, known as The Healthy Youth Act, on a 33-2 vote in January. The legislation would ensure public schools that choose to offer a sex education program — there is no law requiring it — be medically accurate, age appropriate, and LGBTQ inclusive. (Beiner and Rios, 3/4)
Dallas Morning News: Zero Deductibles And $5 Copays? How American Airlines And Plano Are Cutting Out-Of-Pocket Health Costs
Lots of people worry about paying for health care, and that’s understandable, given the steady rise in insurance premiums, deductibles and copays. Such pocketbook issues discourage many from getting treatment, even when dealing with chronic conditions. But avoiding care isn’t a smart way to curb health spending, not over the long run, and some employers are pushing back by lowering out-of-pocket costs. (Schnurman, 3/2)
Modern Healthcare: NYU Langone Receives Federal Subpoena Over Medicare Payments
The federal government is investigating NYU Langone over Medicare payments it received to cover indirect medical education expenses, according to a disclosure in the health system’s financial statements. NYU Langone said that it received a subpoena in January from HHS’ Office of the Inspector General that asked for information related to its Medicare cost reports submitted from 2010 to 2019. (LaMantia, 3/4)
CBS News: Two 7th Graders Arrested After Viral “Skull Breaker Challenge” Video Sends Classmate To The Hospital
Social media has given birth to a long list of dangerous viral trends — the “Tide pod challenge,” the “condom snorting challenge,” etc. — and now there’s a new dangerous challenge circulating on TikTok, endangering American kids. This time, the craze in question involves two people tricking one of their friends into standing side-by-side with them and jumping. Then, they kick his legs out from under him and send him crashing to the floor. (Capatides, 3/4)
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
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