KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State News: Mass. Immigrant Care; Pension Benefit Changes In Calif. Cities

News outlets report on a range of state health policy issues and developments.

The Boston Globe: Immigrant Health Care Back In Court
Thousands of legal immigrants may have to wait weeks longer to find out whether the state's highest court will order Massachusetts to restore their full health insurance benefits. Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Associate Justice Robert J. Cordy today ordered lawyers for the state to file their motions by June 23 (Lazar, 6/9). 

Bloomberg: California Cities Carry Out Pension Changes While Brown Still Negotiating
With little public comment and about 15 people in attendance, the City Council of Brea, California, voted unanimously last month to slash pensions for future hires and require current employees to pay as much as 4.5 percent of their salary toward retirement, up from zero. The city of 40,000, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) southeast of Los Angeles, had negotiated the changes with its unions, so there wasn't any objection from them. By next year, according to a city report, employees will be contributing $1 million more annually to their pension benefits. Brea is among about 90 cities in the most populous state that have made changes to their pension plans, according to an informal list kept by the California Public Employees' Retirement System, while Governor Jerry Brown and lawmakers wrestle over ways to lower costs (Palmeri, 6/10).

Stateline: In California, Adult Day Care Program Is Threatened With Extinction
California has decided to cut Medicaid funding for (adult day care) to save money in the current budget. For the state, there's an equally depressing reality that health officials will eventually have to confront: Defunding the centers won't save any money in the long-run; it will cost more money. ... Many patients will end up calling emergency medical services, going to emergency rooms and getting admitted and re-admitted to hospitals. Some will go directly to nursing homes. Instead of paying $76 per day for adult health care, the state will have to reimburse nursing homes at a rate of $200 per day (Vestal, 6/10). 

Des Moines Register: Insurance Fee Added For Some City Workers
All nonunion city of Ankeny employees will contribute to medical plan insurance premiums starting July 1, City Manager Carl Metzger announced Monday. The cost is estimated at $123 to $316 annually based on the type of plan employees choose, including employee only, employee/spouse, employee/children or employee/family (6/10). 

Minnesota Public Radio: Fear Of Shutdown Grows Each Day For State Workers
There are three weeks until a possible state government shutdown. ... Many of the 36,000 employees are wondering whether they'll continue working in July, when the government will shut down if a deal isn't reached. Among them is Melanie Wurtzberger, a social worker at the Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter. ... Wurtzberger and her husband, an electrical contractor, are covered by her health insurance, but he is in remission from cancer and the couple will have to pay $1,300 a month to continue their health coverage if the government shuts down. She said they're worried about draining their savings to pay their bills (Scheck, 6/10). 

Georgia Health News: Health Plan For State Workers Faces Bigger Hole
The Department of Community Health said Thursday that it will have to draw down reserves further, and make more benefit or premium changes, to shore up the State Health Benefit Plan, which covers about 700,000 employees, teachers, school personnel and retirees, as well as dependents. Vince Harris, chief financial officer of DCH, told the agency's board members that $74 million in additional benefit plan changes would have to be found. That's on top of $72 million that the agency had already identified. Already, members of the State Health Benefit Plan are expecting a 10 percent increase in their health insurance premiums beginning in January (Miller, 6/9).

The Lund Report: Oregon Hospitals Reduce Infection Rates
Oregon hospitals reported overall lower rates of healthcare acquired infections last year as a result of a statewide effort and a public reporting system now in its third year (Rosenfeld, 6/9). 

Birmingham News: Alabama Lawmakers OK Public Vote On Federal Health Care Opt Out Amendment For Constitution
State lawmakers today approved a plan that will let voters decide whether to rewrite the state constitution to say that people and employers in Alabama could opt out of the federal health care overhaul passed by Congress last year. ... The bill does not go to Gov. Robert Bentley for his review, but goes directly to the voters for them to approve or reject it (White, 6/9). 

The Boston Globe: Health Board Pay Ban Could Affect Charities
Legislation aimed at preventing Massachusetts nonprofit health insurers from paying their board members could also end compensation for directors at other major charitable organizations. At least eight of the 50 largest nonprofit foundations in Massachusetts compensate their directors, in some cases as much or more than health insurers, according to a Globe review of annual filings with the Internal Revenue Service (Wallack, 6/10).

The Tennessean: TN's Poor Health Is Drain On Resources, Haslam Says
Unless Tennesseans make an effort to improve personal health, they could see more budget cuts in their children's education as health-care costs continue to drain the state budget, Gov. Bill Haslam said Thursday. "If you look at the portion that the state paid of the total cost for a student 40 years ago compared to now, our share is just about a half of what it used to be," Haslam said. "And you say, 'That is the state not doing its job - why not?' Well, real simple. We are spending that much more in health care" (Hirst, 6/10). 

Denver Post: Planned Cuts To Department Of Human Services Could Sever Lifeline For Disabled
Legislators demanded that state human-services officials reverse fast-growing spending for behavior therapy, day programs, dental care and other services, prompting $8 million in spending cuts for the group in the budget year starting July 1. The paring will begin in October unless parents and providers persuade Department of Human Services officials to change the plan. Opponents say it will not only decimate care for a severely troubled population but will end up costing various governments more money through increases in emergency-room visits, hospitalizations and other social costs (Booth, 6/10).

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