Monday, May 2, 2022 | Kaiser Health News

Challenge Mounted To Ohio Law Allowing Doctors To Deny Services

The Columbus Dispatch covers a case against Ohio’s law that allows health providers to deny services that violate their beliefs — because of the way the law was snuck into a budget bill. Tennessee’s “acquired immunity” covid law, the Lone Star tick in D.C., and other matters are also in the news.

Columbus Dispatch:
ACLU, Equitas Health Challenge Ohio Law Letting Doctors Deny Care

A law that lets Ohio health providers refuse services that violate their religious or moral beliefs is being challenged in court not on its merits but on the way it was passed. The “medical conscience clause” wasn’t a freestanding piece of legislation. Instead, Republicans folded the language into Ohio’s 2,400-page budget during final negotiations. “The Healthcare Denial Law was snuck into an unrelated appropriations bill in the eleventh hour behind closed doors,”  ACLU of Ohio attorney Amy Gilbert said in a statement. “Our constitution’s single-subject rule serves an essential democratic purpose in placing concrete limits on the power of the General Assembly.” (Staver, 4/29)

Tennessee Gets ‘Acquired Immunity’ COVID Law; Gov Won’t Sign

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee declined to sign off on a new law requiring governments and businesses to treat immunity from a previous COVID-19 infection as equal to getting vaccinated in their policies. The legislation became law Friday without the Republican’s signature, taking effect immediately. The bill requires a letter from a licensed physician or certain lab test results as proof of “acquired immunity.” (4/30)

The Washington Post:
Lone Star Tick That Makes People Allergic To Red Meat Is In D.C.

Our recent warm weather has reawakened ticks, and one type in particular is becoming more common in the D.C. area: the lone star tick. One bite from this tick, which is easily identified by the white spot on its back if it’s a female, can cause a life-long adverse reaction to eating red meat. The lone star tick originated in the southern states but has spread north and west to cover much of the eastern half of the country. With a warming climate, more ticks survive the winter months, and their range is expanding. Unlike the black-legged (deer) tick, the lone star tick doesn’t transmit Lyme disease, but it can produce a severe food allergy in people known as alpha-gal syndrome, which is an allergy to red meat. (Ambrose, 5/1)

Autopsy Backlog Plagues Mississippi, With Worst Delays In US

After Truitt Pace admitted to law enforcement that he beat and shot his wife, her family expected a swift conviction. The 34-year-old mother of three’s tiny frame was so bruised and traumatized that the funeral home suggested a closed casket. But as months went by, state prosecutors told Marsha Harbour’s family they were waiting on a key piece of evidence: the medical examiner’s autopsy report. National standards recommend most autopsy reports be completed within 60 days. Prosecutors in Harbour’s case waited for a year. (Willingham, 4/30)

Los Angeles Times:
An Old Toxic Dump Brings New Worries For Lincoln Heights

In the summer of 1984, investigators peered into a cave dug beneath the Lincoln Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles and found dozens of rusted 55-gallon barrels filled with toxic chemicals. Some of the barrels lay nearly empty after their contents had leaked through corroded metal and escaped into the soil. “I saw the hole and I said, ‘I can’t believe it — who would do something like this?’,’’ recalled Barry Groveman, the head of the now-defunct Los Angeles Hazardous Waste Task Force. At the time, he described the dump as “a violent crime against the community.” (Valdez, 4/30)

USA Today:
Tuberculosis Cases Washington: State’s Largest Outbreak In 20 Years

Health officials warn that Washington is experiencing the state’s largest tuberculosis outbreak in 20 years. And it’s part of a concerning surge in TB cases worldwide. A Washington State Department of Health release from Thursday shared that state and local health officials are on “heightened alert” due to the current rise in TB cases. While TB cases in Washington appeared to trend downward during the first year of the pandemic (potentially due to decreased reporting), cases notably rose in 2021 – which saw a total of 199 reported cases statewide, a 22% increase from 2020, according to the state department of health. (Grantham-Philips, 4/30)

Colorado Sun:
Colorado Is About To (Maybe) Adopt Permanent Daylight Saving Time

Colorado is on the verge of adopting a law that would make daylight saving time permanent year-round — but that doesn’t necessarily make clock-switching a thing of the past in the state, at least not yet. Last week, the state Senate passed House Bill 1297, meaning it is now headed to Gov. Jared Polis’ desk. A spokesman for the governor said this week that Polis will sign the bill. The bill wouldn’t automatically keep Colorado’s clocks locked into “coordinated universal time minus six hours,” as the bill describes it. Instead, two conditions must be met first: Congress must pass a law allowing states to switch to permanent daylight time and at least four other states in the Mountain time zone must also adopt permanent DST. (Ingold, 4/29)

In Florida —

Florida Lost 70,000 People To Covid. It’s Still Not Prepared For The Next Wave

As Covid infections begin creeping up again across the country, current and former health officials in Florida are warning that the state remains woefully underprepared to handle the next wave of the pandemic. Florida’s 250-plus hospitals are still facing staffing shortages that continue to worsen as the Covid-19 pandemic drags on. The state Legislature budgeted more than $100 million for community colleges and universities to expand medical training programs to boost the number of qualified nurses in the state and injected $10 million to build medical training centers. (Sarkissian, 5/1)

WLRN 91.3 FM:
HCA Is Donating $1.5 Million To Boost Florida International’s Nurse Educator Program 

There’s another staffing shortage impacting the nursing profession: nurse educators to teach the next generation. U.S. nursing schools turned away more than 80,000 qualified baccalaureate and graduate nursing applicants because of an insufficient number of faculty to teach them, according to a 2019 study by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. Florida International University in Miami is trying to tackle this issue with help from a partnership with HCA Healthcare. On Tuesday, the health system announced it will donate $1.5 million to FIU’s Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing and Health Sciences to expand faculty and offer scholarships to increase enrollment. (Ovalle and Munoz, 4/29)

In news from across other states —

The CT Mirror:
‘Safe Milk More Accessible For Everyone:’ Connecticut Gets First Outpatient Breast Milk Dispensary

Susan Parker walked through the offices at ProHealth Physician’s Glastonbury Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine carrying a large white box. She set it down on a table next to a couple of small medical freezers. “This is literally the first one,” she said before grabbing a pair of scissors and tearing open the box. Inside were more than two dozen tiny bottles filled with frozen, pasteurized breast milk – milk donated from people across the Northeast and then screened, tested and processed at a facility in Massachusetts. Parker, a nurse practitioner and lactation counselor, said this milk will soon go to Connecticut parents who struggle to produce enough breast milk on their own. (Leonard, 5/1)

Masks Back By Popular Demand On San Francisco BART Trains

A mask mandate for commuter rail passengers is back by popular demand in the San Francisco Bay Area, the region that two years ago imposed the nation’s first coronavirus stay-at-home order and now is bucking the national trend away from required face coverings. The Bay Area Rapid Transit system, known as BART, had decided last week to drop its rule in line with a federal court ruling but that decision prompted an outcry, spokeswoman Alicia Trost said Friday. (5/1)

Fox News:
Charlie Crist Says He’s ‘Open’ To Mask Mandate, Setting Up COVID As Key Issue In Race Against DeSantis

A recent statement from a Democratic candidate eyeing the Florida governor’s seat has opened the door for COVID-19 to remain a central issue in the race against sitting Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis. A video obtained by Fox News Digital shows former Florida governor and current Congressman Charlie Crist, D-Fla., telling attendees at a campaign event in Wilton Manors, Florida, that if he were elected, he would be open to a statewide mask mandate. An event attendee asked, “Congressman, thank you for coming. You mentioned the pandemic. Hopefully it is behind us. But as Florida’s governor, would you be open to mandating or regulating masks?” (Laco, 4/29)

Los Angeles Times:
After Cops Remove Activists, L.A. Mayor Candidates Take On Homelessness — And One Another

Sunday’s mayoral debate began with a leader of Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles being forcibly removed from the auditorium by multiple campus police officers just before cameras started rolling and ended with the candidates sharing their favorite locations to visit in the city. During the intervening 90 minutes, five of the leading candidates for Los Angeles mayor traded arguments and accusations over how to address crime, homelessness, climate change and other issues. At times, they appeared almost as frustrated as the voters of Los Angeles. (Wick, Park and Zahniser, 5/1)

Also —

Downsized City Sees Its Health Care Downsized As Hospital Awaits Demolition

In 1898, three nuns took a train to this city along the south shore of Lake Michigan to start a hospital. They converted an old farmhouse into a seven-bed medical center. They treated their first patient for a broken leg amid carpenters hammering nails. Surgeons laid their patients on a kitchen table for operations. The hospital — then named after St. Margaret, known for her service to the poor — eventually became one of the largest in the area. Hundreds of thousands of Indiana and Illinois residents took their first, or last, breaths there. (Bruce, 5/2)

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