KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Roundup: Model Insurance Brings ‘Modest’ Savings

News outlets report on a variety of state health issues.

The Boston Globe: New Blue Cross Blue Shield Contract Produces 'Modest' Savings
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts' alternative quality contract, which Governor Deval Patrick has held up as a potential model for controlling health care costs, produced "modest" savings in its first year while yielding improved quality of care in some areas, according to a new study in this week's New England Journal of Medicine. The contract gives doctors a fixed amount for each patient regardless of how much care the patient requires, and includes incentives for meeting quality measures (Kowalczyk, 7/13).

Minnesota Public Radio: Shutdown Forces Mental Health Crisis Programs To Cut Services
Nearly two weeks into the state government shutdown, mental health providers say they're still trying to correct an "oversight" that has left them without funding for crisis services for people with severe mental illness. ... [One hundred thirty-five] state mental health workers were among those laid off when the government shut down July 1 (Baran, 7/13).

The New York Times: Judge Blocks City's Crisis Pregnancy Center Law
Scolding city officials for supporting a law he called "offensive to free speech principles," a federal judge on Wednesday temporarily barred New York City from enforcing a new law that would require crisis pregnancy centers to disclose more information about their services. The law, which had the strong backing of Christine C. Quinn, the City Council speaker, and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, was scheduled to go into effect on Thursday. It would have required such centers to detail whether they provided abortions or emergency contraception, and whether they had a licensed medical provider on-site (Chen, 7/13).

Kansas Health Institute News: Kansas HIE Board Closer To Making Policy Decisions
The board responsible for overseeing electronic health information exchanges in the state continues to move slower than the state's leading hospital and doctor groups would like. Today, at the board's monthly meeting, leaders of the Kansas Hospital Association and the Kansas Medical Society urged the panel to adopt standards already developed by the federal government for determining what basic medical information is available for exchange among providers (Cauthon, 7/13).

California Healthline: Federal Officials Take Non-Stance On Rate Regulation
This year, few bills have stirred as much vitriolic rhetoric as the proposed health insurance rate regulation law, AB 52 by Assembly members Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles) and Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael). Now the statewide spat threatens to draw in federal officials, and they're having none of it. It all revolves around a recent report from HHS, which concluded that California's current health insurance rate review is "effective." ... More to the point, federal officials said rate regulation has little to do with rate review, and that endorsement of review does not mean criticism of regulation. That's entirely a state issue, HHS representatives said (Gorn, 7/13).

San Francisco Chronicle: Blue Shield To Pay For Autism Behavioral Therapy
Parents of children with autism are hopeful they have scored a victory this week after Blue Shield of California has agreed to pay for a form of therapy for the developmental disorder that it previously refused to cover. The announcement that Blue Shield will pay for behavioral therapies for autism treatment - a step that other providers may soon follow - was made Wednesday during a hearing at the Capitol (Buchanan, 7/14).

The Miami Herald: Jackson Health System Loses Clinic Contract
Already criticized for not providing enough primary care, Jackson Health System announced Tuesday it has lost the contract to manage one of its four remaining clinics. The Dr. Rafael A. Peñalver Clinic in Little Havana, an independent nonprofit center that has been using Jackson employees to provide its health care, decided to put the service out for bid recently, and the winner was a Coral Gables company, Gold Coast Physician Partners. Jackson Chief Executive Carlos Migoya said Tuesday the loss was really a plus for Miami-Dade's beleaguered public health system, which lost $337 million the past two years (Dorschner, 7/12).

Honolulu Star Advertiser: Isle Health Care Act Preserved
Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed a bill into law Tuesday meant to preserve the state's landmark Prepaid Health Care Act as the nation moves toward federal health care reform approved last year by President Barack Obama and Congress. The new law removes a provision that terminates the 1974 Hawaii law when equal or superior national health care legislation takes effect. Abercrombie had put the bill on his potential veto list last month because his administration was still consulting with federal officials. The Governor's Office said Tuesday that the state received opinions from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Labor that confirm that the intent is to retain the Prepaid Health Care Act alongside the federal legislation (DePledge, 7/13).

Des Moines Register: Cuts May End Home Care For Disabled Relatives
State budget cuts could result in 700 disabled Iowans losing respite-care services designed to help keep them in their homes. Respite care provides publicly funded assistance for families who give in-home care to disabled relatives. Medicaid, which otherwise pays only for institutional care, pays for in-home care because it is considered more desirable and far less costly for taxpayers. Earlier this month, the Iowa Department of Human Services was planning to cap monthly usage of respite-care services at 48 hours. Historically, families have been able to bank unused hours and carry them over to the next month, when their needs might be greater because of their own health problems, work schedules or vacations (Kauffman, 7/14). 

(New Orleans) Times-Picayune: University Medical Center Enters A New Round Of Financial Consultations
With two months remaining to meet a promised deadline for a business and financing plan, the University Medical Center governing board will hire more consultants to help map out a final sketch for a new teaching hospital near downtown New Orleans. ... Still, the board is not expected to deviate from the concept of a multibuilding campus - patient towers, a diagnostics and treatment building, an ambulatory care-medical office building and support facilities - on the Mid-City footprint, despite a continued push from some planners and activists to build anew inside a gutted Charity shell (Barrow, 7/13).

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