KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State News Highlights: Texas Senate Approves Medicaid Savings Bill

Texas Tribune: Senate Approves Medicaid Savings Bill
The Senate unanimously approved Sen. Jane Nelson's bill to find extensive cost savings in Texas' Medicaid program, the primary health care provider for children, the disabled and the very poor. ... The measure expands Medicaid managed care into South Texas, where it has long been carved out - expected to save the state $290 million over the biennium. It pulls prescription drug sales into the managed care program and requires most Medicaid patients to use medicines on a state preferred drug list, at a projected savings of $51 million a biennium. And it ensures people with disabilities receiving attendant care services at home are using a Medicaid contractor, saving an estimated $28 million a biennium (Ramshaw, 4/28).

Arizona Republic: Insurance, Competitive-Bid Vetoed
Arizona can start raising private money to build a fence along the Arizona-Mexico border and can establish a state guard for any reason. But the state will not be limiting its spending, entering into a health-care freedom compact with other states, requiring Phoenix and Tucson to seek outside bids for major projects or waiving insurance mandates. Gov. Jan Brewer has through Monday to sign the remaining bills, veto them or do nothing and allow them to become law (Beard-Rau, 4/29).

Texas Tribune: Bill Aims to Expand Organ Registry, Save Lives
In 2010 almost 600 Texans died while waiting for organ transplants, a byproduct of the state's paltry offerings on its state-run organ-donation registry. Now lawmakers are hoping to reverse that trend with legislation filed by state Rep. John Zerwas, R-Simonton. House Bill 2904, if passed, would transfer management of the Glenda Dawson Donate Life-Texas Registry from the Texas Department of State Health Services to a new nonprofit organization. The Texas House passed the bill unanimously last week, and the Senate is expected to follow suit soon (Agular, 4/29).

Kansas Health Institute: Plan Underway To Grow Health Care Workforce
About sixty health care professionals are developing a plan to grow Kansas' primary health care workforce by 10 [percent] to 25 percent in the next decade. The Health Care Workforce Partnership held a two-day symposium last week in Salina to white-board ideas for how to reach the goal. The planning is being coordinated by the Kansas Department of Commerce, which in September was awarded a $150,000 development grant under auspices of the federal health reform law (Cauthon, 4/28).

Connecticut Mirror: Judge Orders Four Nursing Homes Closed
A Superior Court judge has ordered the closure of four financially-troubled nursing homes that together have 472 beds and employ 575 people. Judge Jerry Wagner's ruling Thursday follows a recommendation from the state-appointed receiver in charge of the homes that they be closed because of financial problems. Wagner ordered the receiver, Phyllis A. Belmonte, to arrange for the "orderly transfer of residents" (Levin Becker, 4/28).

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Ruling Favors Alzheimer's Patients
In a decision that could transform the way nursing homes and law enforcement deal with vulnerable older adults who have dementia, the state Court of Appeals ruled that patients who have a diagnosis of only Alzheimer's disease cannot be involuntarily committed for treatment (Bill Glauber, 4/28).

The Denver Post: Colorado Small-Business Leader Urges GOP Pass Health-Exchange Bill
In a blunt open letter, the state's leading group for small businesses called upon Republicans on Thursday to stand up to Tea Party activists who oppose a bill that would set up health insurance exchanges. In the letter, titled "Time for Republicans to Vote for What They Believe In," Tony Gagliardi, state director for the National Federation of Independent Businesses, said Republicans need to line up behind Senate Bill 200. He said passage of the bill is "the largest issue facing Colorado small business in at least a decade" (Hoover, 4/29).

The Miami Herald: New Jackson CEO's Pay To Be Approved
Carlos Migoya is expected to be formally named Jackson Health System's new chief executive at a 9:30 a.m. meeting Friday at County Hall. Jackson's governing body, the Public Health Trust, is expected to approve an annual salary of $590,000 with another $107,000 in benefits and up to $295,000 in bonuses if he turns around the financially strapped system, which is projected to lose more than $100 million this year. Migoya is expected to take office on Monday, a month before the contract of Eneida Roldan is set to expire (4/29).

Dallas Morning News: Psychiatric Patient Deaths At Parkland Investigated
The nation's leading organization for overseeing hospital patients' safety is investigating Parkland Memorial Hospital, this time after the deaths of two psychiatric patients, The Dallas Morning News has learned. The nonprofit Joint Commission acknowledged that it is investigating the death of a patient who was placed in solitary confinement (Moffeit and Egerton, 4/28). 

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