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State Highlights: Cracks In Kansas’ Mental Health System Exposed After Murder; Calif. HIV Program In Disarray After Operator Shift

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Outlets report on news from Kansas, California, Iowa, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Washington, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Texas.

KCUR: Murder At Mental Health Facility Exposes Gaps In Kansas System 
Mental health nursing facilities are unique to Kansas. Created for adults who need extensive mental health care but aren’t a danger to themselves or others, they fill a niche between community treatment and the two state psychiatric hospitals. Across Kansas, about 800 patients live in 10 mental health nursing facilities. Unlike geriatric nursing homes, they aren’t intended to house patients for the rest of their lives, said Cindy Luxem, president and CEO of the Kansas Health Care Association, which represents some of the state’s nursing facilities. (Wingerter, 1/23)

San Francisco Chronicle: HIV Patients Call Drug Program Fractured After Shift In Operators
A state program that helps people pay for expensive, lifesaving HIV drugs is in disarray after the Oakland company that managed it for nearly 20 years was replaced by three out-of-state operators, say patients and AIDS advocacy groups. So far, the transition between contractors, which occurred last summer, has mostly proved stressful and time-consuming for patients and their caseworkers. But advocacy groups worry that patients could be delayed in obtaining HIV medications they rely on to stay healthy, which would be problematic not only for them but for programs designed to control spread of the virus. (Allday, 1/23)

Iowa Public Radio: Branstad Backs DHS In Probe Of Abuse Of Mentally Disabled Patients 
Governor Branstad says the investigation continues into the abuse of patients at the state-run Glenwood Resource Center in western Iowa. But he says he will not second-guess the Department of Human Services for not reprimanding supervisors at the facility which cares for patients with profound mental disabilities. The majority of employees are hard-working, conscientious peopleSix employees were fired and others were disciplined for physically and verbally abusing patients, but that did not include managers. (Russell, 1/23)

Boston Globe: State Health Care Giant Pushes For Cuts In Hospital Payments 
The state agency that spends more than $2 billion a year to provide health coverage to 436,000 public employees, retirees, and their families is pushing changes that would allow it to slash what it pays the most expensive hospitals, a drastic move to try to rein in health care costs. The Group Insurance Commission voted unanimously last week to support capping its payments to health care providers at 160 percent of the rates paid by Medicare,

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