KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Roundup: Penn. Health Plan Foundering; Bachmann Attacks Minn. Medicaid Plan; Small Biz In Calif.

The Philadelphia Inquirer: Insurance Termination Notices Are In The Mail To Pennsylvania AdultBasic Subscribers
Insurance termination notices were in the mail Monday to adultBasic subscribers as the Corbett administration sought federal money and a rules change to expand another health-coverage option for low-income working Pennsylvanians. More than two dozen House Democrats, meanwhile, called on Gov. Corbett to find a way to fund the program through June. Several said the state's four Blue Cross-Blue Shield companies should continue payments that had helped fund the program the last several years. Money ... is now projected to run out in a month (Sapatkin, 1/25).

The Associated Press: Pa. Gov Seeks Federal Cushion As AdultBasic Ends
The Corbett administration began seeking federal help Monday to extend coverage to some people who have pre-existing medical conditions and are scheduled to lose their state-subsided health insurance soon. Gov. Tom Corbett's nominee for state insurance commissioner wrote to Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius seeking more money and looser rules on who can join the federally funded program called "PA Fair Care," which is for Pennsylvanians who can't get health insurance because of pre-existing conditions (Levy, 1/24).

The Texas Tribune: Texas Hospitals Could Face Cuts in Federal Funds
Texas hospital administrators aren't thrilled by the Medicaid rate cuts they're facing. ... Proposed cuts in the rates health care providers are paid for treating patients covered by Medicaid would cost Texas hospitals a total of hundreds of millions of dollars a year. But that's nothing, hospital officials say, compared to the expansion of Medicaid managed care - which could wipe out more than $1 billion in federal funds that sustain them each year (Ramshaw, 1/25).

St. Paul Pioneer Press: Bachmann Enters Minnesota's Health Care Fray
Trying to sustain the fight over an expanded federal health care program for the poor, legislative Republicans enlisted some star power Monday in their ongoing shouting match with Gov. Mark Dayton. Rep. Michele Bachmann, the Republican tea party darling from Minnesota's 6th District, came to the state Capitol with charts and graphs in her continued effort to act as a bulwark against President Barack Obama's health care reforms. She cautioned against Dayton's decision earlier this month to add coverage under Medicaid for nearly 100,000 Minnesotans. ... Minnesota budget analysts say the program actually saves the state money overall - something Republicans dispute (Hoppin, 1/24).

Minnesota Public Radio: PoliGraph: Pawlenty Health Plan Claims Largely True
This is the first in a series of fact checks this week reviewing the book of former Gov. Tim Pawlenty -- Courage to Stand. ... In the book Pawlenty writes about health care and his efforts to reduce costs in Minnesota. ... Among the examples Pawlenty mentions is the Minnesota Advantage Health Plan, a program that offers lower co-pays and deductibles to state employees who visit hospitals, doctors and clinics that provide high-quality health care at a low cost. Parts of Pawlenty's claim are correct. But there are some caveats (Richert, 1/24).

The Arizona Republic: Arizona Hospitals Now Support Tax On Revenue
Arizona hospitals, faced with losing 280,000 Medicaid patients, have reversed themselves and now support taxing their revenue to help balance the state budget. But it remains to be seen if it's too little, too late. The Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association board voted Friday to support a provider tax in hopes of averting the Medicaid rollback that Gov. Jan Brewer and Republican lawmakers are pushing. That comes after the board voted late last year to oppose such a tax (Reinhart, 1/25).

California Healthline: Small Businesses Eligible for Health Insurance Incentive
Only 43% of small business owners are familiar with a tax credit that could help pay their health insurance costs for employees, according to a national survey released last week by the Small Business Majority (SBM). "I'm not surprised," John Arensmeyer of the California chapter of the SBM said. ... Arensmeyer has worked on a statewide "listening tour" for the past nine months, talking to small business owners about the creation of California's health benefit exchange and the potential savings from the tax credit (Gorn, 1/24).

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Tort Reform Bill Sparks Filings
With Gov. Scott Walker poised to sign into law broad new protections from lawsuits for businesses, plaintiffs' attorneys are hustling to file personal injury cases before the measure takes effect. The bill approved by the Legislature on Thursday would limit punitive damages in personal injury lawsuits and damages for pain and suffering in medical malpractice cases involving nursing homes. That's left lawyers looking to make sure their clients aren't limited in collecting those (Schultze and Stein, 1/24).

The Boston Globe: 2 Big Health Plans May Merge
The state's second- and third-largest health plans, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and Tufts Health Plan, are set to tell their employees today that they are exploring a merger that would reshape the region's health insurance landscape. [That would] make them a stronger competitor to the market leader, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, in their home state, according to several people who have been briefed on the transaction (Weisman and Lazar, 1/25).

Kansas Health Institute News: Early Head Start Dropped From Governor's Budget
There's nothing in Gov. Sam Brownback's proposed budget for the 16 Early Head Start programs, which have operations in 56 of Kansas' 105 counties. ... The Brownback budget plan also would eliminate the state's Family Centered System of Care grant program that community mental health centers use to pay for services for mentally ill children who are low-income, uninsured and not eligible for Medicaid (Ranney, 1/24).  

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