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State Highlights: Battle Over Brooklyn Hospital’s Fate Widens In Court

A selection of health policy stories from New York, Georgia, Iowa, Texas, Minnesota and California.

The New York Times: Judge Raises Prospect Of Criminal Charges In Hospital Case
Justice Johnny L. Baynes in Brooklyn, who has issued three temporary restraining orders in the case since March, all forbidding SUNY to take steps to close [Long Island College Hospital], asked a lawyer representing Bill de Blasio, the public advocate and a Democratic candidate for mayor, whether he had reported allegations of criminal interference with emergency room services to the Brooklyn district attorney. Murmurs of approval rose from the room, packed with longtime patients, doctors, nurses and residents of northern Brooklyn where the fate of the 150-year-old hospital has become a rallying cry (Bernstein, 8/7).

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: State Health Care Shift Is On: Notes From A Convention Of Expensive People
At 10:17 a.m. Wednesday, a black-robed, bow-tied Judge Jerry Baxter sat down in Room 4D of the Fulton County courthouse and opened a three-day convention featuring some of the most expensive people in Atlanta. … At stake was a five-year contract to manage the health insurance coverage of 650,000 state employees — including most public school teachers — and the $3 billion in claims they make each year (Galloway, 8/7).

Des Moines Register: Proposed Telemedicine Ban Proceeds After Vote Deadlock
Legislators have declined for the moment to step into a dispute over whether state regulators should shut down a video-conferencing system used to dispense abortion pills statewide. The Iowa Board of Medicine ruled in 2010 that the Planned Parenthood system, the first of its kind in the nation, could continue (Leys, 8/7). 

Texas Tribune: Dental Board’s Review Process Gets Makeover
Ahead of the 83rd legislative session, the Texas House Public Health Committee heard pointed criticism of the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners, with some critics accusing the board of ineptitude and not acting swiftly to address Medicaid fraud cases. Lawmakers have responded by approving new regulations, and they are optimistic that the board will have the tools to add staffing and become more efficient in handling complaints (Floyd and Lai, 8/7).

MPR: Simple Solutions Can Help Fill Gaps In Health Care 
Martha Hitzeman is legally blind, and at 87, needs medication for pain and to prevent strokes. … MedSmart was created in response to a state Minnesota Department of Human Services request for ideas that could help elderly patients stay at home. It is funded in part by a $117,000 DHS matching grant (Gunderson, 8/8).

California Healthline: Scope-Of-Practice Bills Proceed, Pause
The Assembly Committee on Business, Professions and Consumer Protection yesterday passed SB 493 by Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina), which would expand scope-of-practice rights for pharmacists. The committee failed to pass a companion bill (also authored by Hernandez) that would have expanded scope of practice for nurse practitioners. The failed bill, SB 491, can be reconsidered, setting up a final vote next week. The bill fell two votes short of approval with five committee members abstaining. … At issue is the dearth in primary care physicians in California, particularly in rural and urban underserved areas (Gorn, 8/7).