Around the nation: Delaware to expand needle exchange program

Bite-sized hospital and health industry news

  • Delaware: The state's needle exchange program, which is currently confined to the city of Wilmington, will expand statewide under legislation signed into law last week by Gov. Jack Markell (D). The program allows intravenous drug users to exchange used needles and syringes for clean ones provided by the Division of Public Health, with the goal of fighting the spread of HIV, hepatitis, and other diseases (AP/Washington Times, 8/11).

  • Iowa/South Dakota: More than 2,300 individuals enrolled in the Veterans Affairs health care system in Iowa and South Dakota were assigned to primary care physicians who no longer worked at those facilities, according to a report released Thursday by VA's Office of Inspector General (VA OIG). Rep. Timothy Walz (D-Minn.) requested the investigation in response to whistleblower claims that a VA health care facility in St. Cloud, Minnesota, had inaccurately reported primary care caseload sizes. VA OIG reviewed the use of "ghost panels"—instances in which veterans were assigned to care teams that lacked a primary care provider—at all VA hospitals in the Upper Midwest Veterans Integrated Service Network. Overall, VA OIG found that 0.8 percent of the roughly 287,000 active primary care patients in the network were assigned to a ghost panel (Keenan, Cedar Rapids Gazette, 8/12; Foley, AP/Sacramento Bee, 8/12).

  • New Jersey: A lesbian couple is suing the state over regulations that define infertility as failing to conceive after engaging in unprotected sex. Erin Krupa was denied insurance coverage for infertility treatments because she could not show she had not become pregnant after having unprotected sex with a man. Krupa eventually convinced her insurance company to cover infertility treatments, but incurred nearly $25,000 in out-of-pocket costs. She claims the state regulations infringe on her civil rights. In response to the lawsuit, some state lawmakers say they will push legislation to revise the definition of infertility to include women who are lesbians, do not have sex partners, or have protected sex. Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D) said, "The law needs to be changed," adding, "It's just time to push this to the forefront" (Catalni, AP/Washington Times, 8/13).

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