KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Roundup: Ore. Cuts Insurer’s Rate Increase

News outlets report on a variety of state health issues.

The Oregonian: Oregon Insurance Division OKs 12.8 Percent Health Insurance Rate Increase, Rejects 22 Percent
The Oregon Insurance Division will allow the state's largest health insurer to raise rates on individual premiums an average 12.8 percent, far lower than the 22.1 percent the company had requested. The division announced its decision Tuesday after a public hearing in June on the request by Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon, the first such hearing in more than two decades. The reduced rate increase will affect about 59,000 residents who buy from Regence individually or for their families rather than through employers (Graves, 7/20).

The Lund Report (Oregon): Regence Rate Increase Sets the Stage for More Consumer Involvement
"Historically, insurance regulators haven't gotten involved in healthcare costs," said Teresa Miller, administrator of the Insurance Division, who's intent on changing that scenario. "I also want to give consumers a window into the rate decision process." Miller's confident the Department of Health and Human Services will approve a $4 million grant this summer to help states deal with insurance rate requests over the next three years. (Lund-Muzikant, 7/20).

Georgia Health News/Public Health News Bureau: Ranks Are Thin In Gwinett's War Against TB
State law requires health officials to ensure that tuberculosis medications are taken properly and that multi-drug-resistant TB doesn't develop. [But Farhad Jameel is] a case manager, and it's not in his job description to watch homebound patients take their medication. ... However, since the East Metro district's funding for an outreach worker ran out in December 2010, Jameel and his colleagues have been doing double duty – in a region whose TB rates are among the highest in the state (Collins, 7/20). 

WBUR: Study Finds It's Difficult To Get Psychiatric Care Around Boston
A study by Harvard Medical School researchers finds that even people with excellent private health insurance have trouble getting psychiatric care in Greater Boston. The authors of the study, published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, posed as patients with Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance and called mental health providers in the plan, saying they had been seen in an emergency room and needed a psychiatric appointment within two weeks. Dr. Wes Boyd, one of the study's authors, says the lack of a response was surprising (Brady-Myerov, 7/21).  

New Hampshire Public Radio: Planned Parenthood Contract Rejection Threatens State's Federal Compliance
The executive council's rejection of a $1.8 million ... Planned Parenthood contract has put the state in trouble with the federal government. New Hampshire Health and Human Services Commissioner Nick Toumpas says New Hampshire may have broken federal rules governing family planning care. The problem: the state must provide such services to low income women statewide. But defunding Planned Parenthood puts 16,000 women – or about half of the state's eligible patients – in jeopardy of losing access to their care (Grant, 7/20). 

Arizona Republic: State Tells Employees Health Insurance Will Rocket
State and university employees with families can expect to see their monthly health-insurance costs rise as much as 37 percent next year, depending on the type of plan they choose. Figures provided by the Arizona Department of Administration show that health plans for families and single adults with children will shoulder the most-expensive monthly premium increases beginning Jan. 1, while individuals will pay modest increases (Alltucker, 7/21).

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Big Changes For Schools, Health
When laid-off government workers go back to their jobs Thursday, they immediately will deal with the effects of what's in the budget and borrowing bills signed into law. Minnesotans awoke Wednesday to a new state budget that clamps down on spending, makes big changes in education and health care, and borrows heavily to make ends meet (Helgeson, Kaszuba and Roper, 7/20). 

KQED: Public Health Cuts Causing More Pain
Public health insurance programs take up an enormous part of California's budget, and they took a big hit from lawmakers and the governor this year in their efforts to close the state's massive deficit. Recipients of both Medi-Cal and Healthy Families will face co-pays and restrictions on number of visits, and their medical providers will get smaller payments (Varney, 7/20). 

Seattle Times: State Cleared For Medicaid Match
Federal reviewers have given the seal of approval to Washington's ProviderOne Medicaid payment system.
The certification by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services allows the state to receive more federal match money to operate the system (7/20). 

Modern Healthcare: Vt. Governor Names New Health Department Commissioner
Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin named Mark Larson, a lawmaker in the Vermont House of Representatives, the commissioner of the Department of Vermont Health Access. Larson, 41, will replace Susan Besio, who has retired, according to a spokesperson for Shumlin (Lee, 7/20). 

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