KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Roundup: N.C.’s Mental Health Housing Issues

A selection of stories about health care from California, Georgia, Kansas, Massachusetts and North Carolina.

Boston Globe: Medical Debt Still Problem in Mass.
Temporary lapses in insurance coverage and increasingly common plans with high deductibles and copayments have contributed to medical debt, leaving some people struggling to pay bills for hospitals, doctors, and ambulance companies. Rising health costs and the recession also probably played a role. Although the law has failed to cut medical debt, some analysts say it may have prevented an increase in Massachusetts (Conaboy, 9/10).

The Boston Globe: With Profits Down, Future Of Mass. Hospitals Questioned
As they brace for an era of shrinking government funds and mounting pressure to cut prices for medical services, Massachusetts hospitals face growing financial strains. Two dozen — more than a third of the state's total — lost money last year, including rural community hospitals, urban safety net hospitals, and even affiliates of renowned academic medical centers, according to a new report from the Division of Health Care Finance and Policy (Weisman, 9/8).

The Associated Press/KGO: Dozens Of San Francisco Restaurants Charge Customers For Employee Healthcare, Don't Spend It
Restaurants and other businesses in this food-loving tourist mecca collected almost $14 million ... in extra fees last year from their patrons, as they sought to comply with the progressive city's landmark universal health-care ordinance. But an Associated Press analysis of records showed that roughly 40 percent of that money hasn't been spent on their workers' health care (9/8).

Kansas Health Institute News: State Launches Medicaid, HealthWave Application Portal
State officials today unveiled an online portal designed to help low-income Kansans apply for Medicaid and HealthWave. "While we still have the paper application method available, Kansans can now apply for medical assistance online in a paperless system that will greatly streamline this process," Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Dr. Robert Moser said ... The online portal also is meant to let applicants know if they’re likely eligible for Medicaid or HealthWave (9/7).

The Associated Press: Ga. Switching Mental Health Care Providers
Georgia officials are switching health care providers months after an audit found problems in a $13 million program meant to provide better treatment for the mentally ill. The Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental is booting out California-based Anka Behavioral Health and giving its contracts to local agencies (9/8).

North Carolina Health News: Mental Health Housing Issues Up Front During Legislative Recess
State lawmakers met with housing and finance experts and, mental health providers and advocates Wednesday in an attempt to get a handle on North Carolina’s longstanding problems with housing for people with mental health disabilities. ... Estimates are that as many as 6,000 people with mental health problems live in adult care homes – medium-to-large sized institutions that were initially intended to house the frail elderly, not people with mental illness (Hoban, 9/7).

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