KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Roundup: Calif. Prison Health Care Reverts To State; Fla. To Redo IT System

Media outlets report on a variety of health policy issues in Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, D.C., Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Missouri and Texas.

New Orleans Times-Picayune: Health And Hospitals, Higher Education Face More Budget Cuts
The cuts were announced Monday afternoon. ... Overall the [Louisiana] health agency is looking at $57 million in reductions in state revenue, which will require the state to forgo about three times that much in federal revenue. ... Department of Health and Hospitals Sec. Bruce Greenstein said in addition to those reductions, the budget for hospitals run by LSU will face $21.5 million in cuts. ... Among the changes proposed by the department are further cuts to the rates for Medicaid providers (Adelson, 5/7).

Health News Florida: FL Hates Law, But Plans For It
The Agency for Health Care Administration today will answer questions from companies that have shown an interest in competing for a $700,000 study on creating a modern Medicaid information system. The IT system needs to be able to handle not just the current job, but the health insurance exchange called for under the federal health law. Answers to the questions will help guide whether the companies will respond to the bid by the May 22 deadline (Sexton, 5/7).

Arizona Republic: OB/GYN, Aetna Cost Dispute May Affect 5,000 Patients
About 5,000 metro Phoenix women covered by Aetna could be forced to switch doctors or medical practitioners next week because of a dispute between the insurance company and a large East Valley obstetrics and gynecology practice. Drs. Goodman and Partridge OB/GYN said Monday that it will no longer contract with Aetna effective May 15 over disagreements about the health insurer's administrative practices and reimbursement rates (Alltucker, 5/7).

Sacramento Bee: Sacramento's Threadbare Medical Network For Poor Getting Thinner
Getting primary medical care when you're poor or uninsured is challenging everywhere. In some places in California, people can at least tap into extensive county services and flourishing networks of federally financed community clinics. But not in Sacramento County. Health care leaders here describe the county's network of primary care for the poor and uninsured – including people who don't get health insurance through their employers or can't afford it on their own – as "fragmented," "frayed" and two to three decades behind the times (Rubenstein, 5/8).

The Washington Post: Sale Of D.C. Health-Care Firm In Works
D.C. Chartered Health Plan is weighing offers from buyers in an effort to keep $350 million in District government business that officials have said it could lose if the company remains in the hands of owner Jeffrey E. Thompson (Stewart and DeBonis, 5/7).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Court Hearing Scheduled In Lawsuit Against Conn. Governor Over Unionization Of Care
Opponents to unionization of certain daycare and personal care workers are going to court after Connecticut lawmakers sent legislation to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy allowing the employees to collectively bargain over wages and benefits. Fergus Cullen, executive director of the Yankee Institute conservative think tank, said the legislation does not affect the institute's lawsuit challenging the legality of an executive order signed by Malloy last year. It created a process for the workers who are paid through the state's Medicaid program, to select a union to represent them in non-binding talks with the Department of Social Services (5/7).

Boston Globe: As Legislative Debate Begins, Partners HealthCare Ad Campaign Touts Its Cost-Cutting
The debate over the next stage of the state’s health care overhaul is in full swing now, reflected on the pages of the Boston Globe in more ways than one. ... Today, in the Globe’s Metro section, Partners HealthCare ran a full-page advertisement touting its efforts to control costs. Partners, which owns Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women's Hospital, is often pointed to as a high-cost system with tremendous power to negotiate with health insurers (Conaboy, 5/7).

NPR: As Texas Cuts Funds, Planned Parenthood Fights Back
Planned Parenthood has filed a lawsuit in federal court, claiming these new Texas rules violate the organization's constitutional rights to free association and free speech. ... Texas already cut its support statewide for women's health clinics by two-thirds in 2011, eliminating access to family planning services for nearly 300,000 poor and working-class women. ... The Texas Legislative Budget Board estimates those cuts will result in roughly 20,000 additional unplanned births. ... But for abortion opponents, the issue is not about money but about keeping Planned Parenthood out of the Texas Women's Health Program (Goodwyn, 5/7). 

Georgia Health News: Two Shots In The Arm For Georgia Medicaid
First, technology giant HP said in a news release that federal officials have recently certified Georgia's Medicaid information system. The accreditation by [CMS] ensures that Georgia will receive maximum federal funding for the system's implementation and operations. ... Also Monday, state Attorney General Sam Olens announced that Georgia has joined with other states and the federal government to reach an agreement with Abbott Laboratories to settle civil and criminal allegations that the company illegally marketed the anti-seizure drug Depakote (Miller, 5/8). 

California Healthline: Will FQHCs Get Lower Adult Health Rate?
A federal judge last week heard arguments for and against issuing a temporary restraining order against the state's plan to reduce payments for adult day health services. The California Primary Care Association filed suit on behalf of federally qualified health centers. U.S. District Court judge James Ware heard the case last week. He has 30 days to issue a ruling. In a similar case last month filed by the Adult Day Health Care Association, a federal judge declined to issue a preliminary injunction against the state (Gorn, 5/8). 

KQED/The California Report: Prisoner Health Care To Revert To State Control
Seven years ago, one state prison inmate a week died from inadequate health care. Now the federal judge who put the system under receivership says the care has improved enough to transition control back to the state (Small, 5/7). 

Colorado Public Radio: Health Care Law Means Uncertainty For Doctors
The president of the Colorado Medical Society, Dr. Brent Keeler says nobody knows what will happen if the Supreme Court strikes the [health] law down. But if it upholds it, the future isn't exactly clear, either. "A lot of the Affordable Care Act has not actually started to happen, and so we don't know for sure how it's going to affect physicians, patients, the public, government. We don't know how it's going to have an effect in all those areas, because not all of it has unfolded yet" (Whitney, 5/7).

KCUR in Kansas City: Patients, Providers, Companies Await Medicaid Ruling
A main part of Missouri's Medicaid program is at the center of a lawsuit right now. A company that's long contracted with the state to manage Medicaid services for several thousand enrollees alleges the state inappropriately chose new contracts. A Cole county circuit court could rule on the case any day now, with one potential outcome creating problems for the Medicaid program and its enrollment (Gordon, 5/8).

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.