KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Roundup: Fla. Medicaid Waiver Fight

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

Minneapolis Star Tribune: A Look At The Details In The Latest Bills
Gov. Mark Dayton and lawmakers reached agreement on a new set of budget bills ... State spending for health and human services will be up from about $10.2 billion this biennium but well below the $12.3 billion projected under current law. The bill preserves some policies that Republicans had rejected in the bill vetoed by Dayton, including shifting 125,000 poor, childless adults from two state programs onto Medicaid, accepting federal health-care overhaul money ... The bill makes cuts to doctor, hospital and other care provider rates and trims about $400 million from Medicaid through competitive contracts and other measures (7/20). 

Health News Florida: 100 Groups Fight Medicaid Waiver
A letter asking the Obama administration to reject Florida's Medicaid overhaul has been signed by more than 100 state organizations, including some medical societies and a wing of the Florida Bar. The letter, released by the patient-advocacy group Florida CHAIN, asks the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to reject the state's expected application for a waiver of federal rules in the joint federal-state program for low-income families, elderly and disabled. ... The 2011 Legislature passed the plan, with proponents saying it would save money and improve access to care (Davis, 7/19). 

Modern Healthcare: Wis. Supreme Court Rules Not-For-Profit Clinic Can't Be Taxed
With cash-strapped governments across the country looking to levy assessments against not-for-profit healthcare providers, the Wisconsin Supreme Court on Tuesday overruled a decision by a local assessor in a Milwaukee suburb to tax an outpatient clinic that included a 24-hour urgent-care center. ... After mixed rulings in the lower courts, Wheaton Franciscan won the six-year-old litigation on Tuesday when the state's highest court ruled in a 42-page opinion that the three floors occupied by the St. Joseph Outpatient Clinic should be exempt from taxes (Carlson, 7/19). 

San Francisco Chronicle: Critics Call State's Autism Settlement A 'Sham'
Leading autism and consumer advocacy organizations in California are calling a settlement agreed to last week between the state and Blue Shield of California to expand coverage for autism treatment a "sham" that will not result in more therapy for people with the condition. In a letter to Gov. Jerry Brown, the advocates say the settlement -- which was announced and described by officials with the Department of Managed Health Care at a legislative hearing last week -- "contains such onerous requirements for families with autistic children that it will lead to delays, interruptions and continued denials of treatment" (Buchanan, 7/20). 

WBUR's CommonHealth blog: Taking Sides On Global Payments
Who would have thought that the wonky issue of global payments could generate such heat? But indeed, hard-core health policy types are riled up over the question: can such a system of paying hospitals and doctors under a global budget per patient, rather than in a piecemeal fee-for-service manner actually save money while improving care? (Zimmerman, 7/19). 

New Hampshire Public Radio: Feds To State: Pay Up
Federal authorities want the Granite State to repay $35 million they say it wrongly used in 2004. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has ruled that in 2004 the state violated rules of a Medicaid program intended to help hospitals provide charity care to needy patients. The federal money was provided to the state's 26 hospitals (Grant, 7/19).

Burlington Free Press: Larson To Leave Legislature For Job In Government
Mark Larson, a Democratic legislator for the past decade and one of the architects of the state's health care reform law, now will have a hand in implementing some of those reforms as commissioner of the Department of Vermont Health Access. Gov. Peter Shumlin announced Tuesday that he had chosen Larson, 41, of Burlington to fill the post being vacated by Susan Besio, who retired July 1 (Remsen, 7/19).

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