Media outlets report on news from Massachusetts, Illinois, California, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Kansas, Ohio, Connecticut, Louisiana, New Hampshire, Washington, Georgia, Tennessee and Texas.

Boston Globe:
Health Care Tax On Business Brought In Far More Money Than Anticipated

Nobody likes getting hit with a tax hike, but this one was a particularly bitter pill for the Massachusetts business community to swallow. Lawmakers promised the “EMAC,” short for employer medical assistance contribution, would last only two years when they approved it in 2017, ostensibly to cover a shortfall in the state’s Medicaid program. State officials also projected it would raise $200 million a year, or $400 million by the time the sunset arrived at the end of 2019. (Chesto, 1/6)

The Associated Press:
Report: 123 Children Died In 2019 Despite Contact With DCFS

A report highlighting persistent problems within Illinois’ child welfare agency showed 123 children died in the past fiscal year despite having contact with the Department of Children and Family Services. It was the highest number since the fiscal year ending in 2005, when the number was 139 deaths, according to annual reports released each January by the department’s inspector general. The lowest it was during that that time was 84 in the fiscal year ending in 2010. (Tareen, 1/6)

California’s Jails Are In A Deadly Crisis. Here’s How Experts Suggest Fixing Them.

Nearly a decade after California overhauled its prison and jail system, policymakers are considering reforms to the state’s landmark criminal justice transformation, calling for more oversight of county sheriffs and higher standards for inmate care. Gov. Gavin Newsom has said he is crafting plans focused on local lockups, where homicides have surged, and exploring how to give the state more power to oversee the sheriffs who run them. More details are expected this week when the governor unveils his state budget proposal. (Pohl and Gabrielson, 1/6)

The Star Tribune:
Walz Seeks Peace With Counties Over $10M In DHS Payment Glitches 

Amid a backlash from local officials across Minnesota, the Walz administration has begun to mend fences with counties that were asked to repay the state nearly $10 million for payment errors created by the state Department of Human Services (DHS). Gov. Tim Walz recently told county leaders that he would work with the Legislature so that counties would not be on the hook for the payments, which came to light in a surprise DHS announcement in mid-November that asked counties to retroactively pay for chemical dependency treatment and some foster care placements. (Howatt, 1/6)

The Washington Post:
Bed Bugs Are Released Inside A Pennsylvania Walmart

Pennsylvania State Police are searching for the pest who left bedbugs in a Walmart. A store manager of a Washington Township, Pa., Walmart found a closed pill bottle containing live bugs in a boy’s jacket that was for sale Thursday, according to police. He threw out the jacket and the container without contacting authorities but found more insects later. (Beachum, 1/6)

Philadelphia Inquirer:
Jefferson Said It Would Acquire Einstein Healthcare Over A Year Ago. Why Is It Still Pending?

Thomas Jefferson University signed on the dotted line to buy Fox Chase Cancer Center from Temple University a few weeks ago. But another piece of the vast network Jefferson chief executive Stephen K. Klasko is trying to assemble has not yet fallen firmly into place. Jefferson’s acquisition of the Einstein Healthcare Network, first announced in March 2018, has been been pending since September of that year, when they signed a definitive agreement. (Brubaker, 1/6)

The State Of Health In Missouri And Kansas In 2020 

While Washington wrestles over fixes for bloated drug prices and surprise medical bills, politicians closer to home will continue years-long battles over other hot-button topics. Kansas and Missouri remain among the shrinking minority of states that never expanded Medicaid. Pressure is mounting that could force political compromise in Topeka soon. Meanwhile, Missouri is down to one abortion clinic, fighting state efforts to strip its license. In Kansas, abortion foes are gearing up to ask Kansans to change their state’s constitution after the Kansas Supreme Court ruled last year that women have the right to terminate a pregnancy. (Llopis-Jepsen, Margolies and Smith 1/7)

Inside A Training Course Where School Workers Learn How To Physically Restrain Students

In the year that we’ve reported on restraint and seclusion, we have worked hard to become experts on the topic. We’re not educators, but we are dedicated learners. We read books and studies about how to work with children who have behavior disorders, and we talked to academic experts and researchers across the country about seclusion, or confining students in a place they can’t leave, and physical restraint. We learned by observing, too. ProPublica Illinois reporting fellow Lakeidra Chavis and I spent two days watching a Crisis Prevention Institute, or CPI, training for educators in the Chicago suburbs. (Richards, 1/3)

Cleveland Plain Dealer:
Flu Season Hitting Children, Young Adults, Cleveland And Cuyahoga County Health Officials Say

Clevelanders getting sick with flu are substantially younger than in the previous five seasons, the Cleveland Department of Public Health reported Monday.Flu intensity in Cleveland jumped from moderate in previous weeks to very high in the week ending Dec. 28. Influenza-like illnesses and confirmed hospitalizations were well above the five-year average, according to a report that Merle Gordon, director of the health department, released to The Plain Dealer. (Washington, 1/6)

The CT Mirror:
Nonprofits ‘Greatly Concerned’ About Prospect Of Emergency Budget Cuts

Connecticut’s largest coalition of nonprofit agencies urged Gov. Ned Lamont’s administration to avoid cutting community-based social services as it seeks to close a small hole in state finances. The CT Community Nonprofit Alliance, which has been pressing Lamont to pump more resources into the hundreds of agencies that deliver the bulk of state-sponsored social services, also questioned why emergency cuts are being considered even as state budget reserves are projected to grow. (Phaneuf, 1/6)

The Advocate:
Three Years After East Baton Rouge Privatized Jail Healthcare, Inmate Death Rate Remains High

Concerns about medical care in Baton Rouge’s jail reached a boiling point in August 2015 when a group of nurses laid their grievances before the East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council, describing dire staffing shortages and inadequate mental health services that advocates blamed for an outsized inmate death rate. An independent consultant confirmed widespread problems and recommended doubling the parish’s annual corrections health care budget to about $10 million. (Skene, 1/6)

California Healthline:
Fecal Bacteria In California’s Waterways Increases With Homeless Crisis

President Donald Trump, a self-described germophobe, has made no secret of his disgust with California’s growing homeless problem, which he has called a “disgrace” and “inappropriate” and equated to “living in hell.” “We should all work together to clean up these hazardous waste and homeless sites before the whole city rots away,” Trump tweeted about San Francisco on Oct. 26. “Very bad and dangerous conditions, also severely impacting the Pacific Ocean and water supply.” (Alemndrala, 1/6)

The Advocate:
Rebekah Gee, Louisiana Health Department Head, Resigns; Read Her Letter To John Bel Edwards 

Louisiana’s health chief is resigning at the end of the month. Gov. John Bel Edwards said in a statement Monday that Louisiana Department of Health Secretary Rebekah Gee is taking a new job, which will be announced at a later date. She’s the second person to announce plans to exit the Edwards administration on the eve of beginning its second term next week. Maj. Gen. Glenn Curtis, who headed the Louisiana National Guard’s adjutant general, announced he is retiring on Friday. (Ballard, 1/6)

The Wall Street Journal:
States Weigh Measures To Stop Transgender Athletes From Competing In Women’s Sports

More statehouses are wading into the contentious debate over the participation of transgender athletes in men’s and women’s sports. In recent weeks, Republican legislators in at least five states have drafted measures aimed at preventing athletes from competing in categories different than their biological sex. Lawmakers say they are specifically concerned about female athletes facing unfair competition. (Gersham, 1/7)

Texas Tribune:
McKinney, Texas Council Member Faces Possible Recall Over Police Remarks

After the high-profile deaths of two North Texas residents at the hands of police officers, the lone black city council member in a conservative suburb north of Dallas pushed his colleagues to declare a “black state of emergency” this fall. Now that effort could play a role in costing him his job. During Tuesday’s McKinney City Council meeting, members are expected to receive a report on thousands of signatures that, if certified as expected, will mandate a recall election against La’Shadion Shemwell. (Samuels, 1/7)

Georgia Health News:
Wellness In Rural Georgia: Hope, Hard Work And Some Frustration

Twilley works with Healthier Together Taliaferro, a project led by a University of Georgia outreach unit called the Cooperative Extension, and funded by the CDC. The collaboration is aimed at helping rural counties where more than 40 percent of the population is obese. The goal is to create programs that promote healthy eating and introduce walking paths, bike trails and other innovations that encourage physical activity. Taliaferro (pronounced “Tolliver”) is the least populous county in Georgia, with fewer than 1,800 inhabitants. But its people have more than their share of problems. (Perry, 1/6)

St. Louis Public Radio:
A St. Louis Guide To Legal Marijuana In Missouri And Illinois

With totally different laws in the neighboring states, there’s an understandable level of confusion among residents: Why is it easier to get medical marijuana in Missouri than in Illinois? Where can you consume cannabis products legally? How much will marijuana cost at dispensaries? And with the ease of traveling between Missouri and Illinois in the St. Louis region, what are the rules about bringing weed across state lines? (Toler, Schmid and Driscoll, 1/6)

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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