KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State News: Calif. Blue Shield Begins Issuing Credits After Profit Cap

News outlets report on a variety of state health policy issues.

Bloomberg: Scott Stymied On Outsourcing As Florida's Prison Health-Care Plan Falters
Florida's plan to outsource health care in the third-largest U.S. prison system to save $30 million has stalled, hindering efforts by Governor Rick Scott and lawmakers to hire private operators for state services. Requests for proposals on the prison work were withdrawn last month less than a week after they were issued. Days later, an outside adviser overseeing the process and Corrections Secretary Edwin Buss left. Lawmakers also cut funds to check inmate care (9/8).

San Francisco Chronicle: Blue Shield Begins Issuing Credits For Profit
Blue Shield of California is starting to make good on its promise to cap its incomes at 2 percent and give back some of its 2010 profit to its policyholders. The San Francisco health insurer said Thursday it started mailing letters this week to subscribers and group customers who are eligible to receive a credit as part of a pledge the company announced in June. ... The insurer plans to return $167 million to policyholders and $10 million to physicians and hospitals participating in new coordinated models of care being promoted by the federal government (Colliver, 9/9).

Atlanta Journal Constitution: Co-Pays Planned For Kids On PeachCare
The PeachCare for Kids program would ask families with children ages 6 and up to pay co-payments ranging from 65 cents to $25 under a plan reviewed Thursday by the state Board of Community Health. ... The PeachCare for Kids plan has never required co-pays. Families with children ages 6 and older pay premiums for the coverage. PeachCare covers children who do not qualify for Medicaid and come from families with incomes up to 235 percent of the federal poverty level. The new co-pays are being implemented to ease the pressure on the state budget and could save about $3.4 million this fiscal year if implemented on Nov. 1. Advocates said the co-pays might discourage people from seeking care (Teegardin, 9/8).

Health Policy Solutions (a Colorado news service): Colorado Attorney General To Review $1.45 Billion Hospital Sale
Colorado's attorney general will review the proposed sale of several major Denver-area hospitals to Tennessee-based HCA and will hold public hearings later this month. But, Deputy Attorney General Geoffrey Blue dealt a blow to opponents of the sale when he ruled Thursday that the Colorado Health Foundation can keep $1.45 billion in profits if the proposed sale ultimately is approved and closes (McCrimmon, 9/8). 

Bloomberg: Community Health Asks Judge To Dismiss Tenet Suit Seeking Buyout Costs
Community Health Systems Inc. (CYH) asked a federal judge to dismiss Tenet Healthcare Corp.'s lawsuit seeking to recover costs incurred rebuffing a takeover bid this year. Lawyers for Franklin, Tennessee-based Community Health asked U.S. District Judge Barbara M.G. Lynn in Dallas today to dismiss the suit, arguing that hospital operator Tenet had no legal standing to seek costs. Community Health, the second-largest U.S. hospital company, dropped its $7.3 billion bid in May after the board of Dallas-based Tenet rejected the all-cash takeover offer as "grossly inadequate." A month earlier, Tenet sued Community Health, accusing it of defrauding Medicare, the federal health insurance program. Community Health called the suit "baseless" (Korosec, 9/8). 

Modern Healthcare: State Accepts Pa. Hospital's Correction Plan
The Pennsylvania Health Department has accepted a plan of correction filed by 165-bed Carlisle (Pa.) Regional Medical Center and, in a letter to the hospital's president and CEO, said that media reports attributing patient deaths to purported staffing shortages "appear unfounded and not based on the documentation." The health department conducted a survey between June 9 and June 22, and the hospital responded with a plan of correction, according to the letter. Daily inspections conducted since Aug. 19 cited no material deficiencies, according to the department (Galloro, 9/8).

The Associated Press/The Miami Herald: Fla. Passes Up Over $100 Million In Federal Grants
Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican-led Legislature have rejected or declined to pursue more than $106 million in federal grant money and returned another $4.5 million for programs linked to federal health care initiatives, including cancer prevention, leading critics to say he is putting his conservative agenda ahead of residents' needs. Scott ordered state agencies to reject any money tied to President Barack Obama's health care plan, which Florida is challenging in court, but Scott kept more than $13 million for a four-year abstinence education grant and for another program coordinating background checks for long-term care workers (Kennedy, 9/8).

California Healthline: UCSF Medical Center Catches Up With EHR Deployment
UC-San Francisco Medical Center might be a late bloomer, but it's making up for lost time. ... UCSF's new EHR system went live in April, and the medical center has completed two of its four phases for ambulatory services. UCSF anticipates the system will expand to include clinics, inpatient care, pharmacy and administrative processes by mid-2012. The final price tag is expected to be $160 million (Edlin, 9/8). 

California Healthline: Healthy Families Falls One Vote Short -- For Now
The bill needed a two-thirds floor vote. ... If it fails, Healthy Families officials will need to discuss how to deal with a $390 million budget shortfall for that program. That's about one-third of the Healthy Families budget, which serves 870,000 kids in California (Gorn, 9/8). 

The Lund Report: Retainer Medical Practices A Growing Trend In Oregon
Primary care physicians, frustrated by the reimbursement rates set by insurance companies, have started to create "retainer medical practices." In exchange for a monthly fee or an annual lump sum, they're offering basic medical care. People receive a certain number of visits, an annual physical exam, the ability to correspond with a physician by email or phone, generic prescription drugs, and basic tests and labs that can be preformed in a doctor's office (Waldroupe, 9/8). 

The Miami Herald: Hialeah Clinic Ripped Off Aid For The Poor, State Says
With her mending employee out of sight, Ruth Del Carmen Reveron fraudulently used his Medicaid provider number to bill the state medical program for patient care that (Luis) Paz-Soldan never administered. That's according to the attorney general's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, which alleges Reveron used her company, T&R Diagnostic and Rehab Center to bilk the agency of $1.1 million from September 2006 through the end of 2009 (Beasley, 9/8).

Concord Monitor: Federal Funds To Aid Family Planning Care
The federal government is contracting for family planning services that lost funding when the Executive Council decided not to rehire Planned Parenthood, the state health commissioner said yesterday. State health officials had searched for other providers who could offer family planning services, which include contraception and screenings for breast and cervical cancer, after the all-Republican council voted 3-2 in June against renewing a contract with Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. The federal program for family planning requires statewide access, and Planned Parenthood was the state's largest provider (Langley, 9/9).

(Oregon) Statesman Journal: Health Plan Changes Overwhelm Employees
Health insurance for state workers in 2012 will be vastly different from the coverage they now receive, according to the final health plan design recently adopted by the Public Employees' Benefit Board. First and foremost, most state employees will see between $49 and $67 per month taken out of their paychecks to help pay for their health insurance premiums under the 5 percent premium share demanded by Gov. John Kitzhaber. But they also will be subject to an array of new surcharges and out-of-pocket medical expenses, all adopted by PEBB to help keep health care costs down. Employees also will be asked to take part in the Health Engagement Model, a new program designed to promote healthier lifestyles. People who don't participate in the HEM and meet its few requirements would be subject to an additional surcharge (Thomspon Jr., 9/8).

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