KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State News: Cuomo’s Plan For Out-Of-Network Charges Runs Into Trouble

Today's news on local health policy issues comes from New York, Connecticut, Mississippi, Colorado, Iowa, Texas, North Carolina and Kansas.

The Wall Street Journal: Cuomo Aims To Salvage Health Pact
Amid an intense lobbying battle between physicians and health insurers, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is trying to salvage his landmark overhaul of out-of-network medical charges. The outcome of the policy battle has large implications for health-care consumers who have been hit with unexpected spikes in their medical bills despite assurances from the governor that he had brought "fairness to a broken consumer reimbursement system" (Gershman, 4/26).

The Connecticut Mirror: Caring, Long Term: A Way Of Life For 1 In 8 Connecticut Residents
[Mimi] Galusha is one of an estimated 42 million Americans who act as unpaid caregivers, forming what experts call the backbone of the long-term care system. They far outnumber the home care workforce, providing services that one report estimated would cost $450 billion if performed by paid workers. In Connecticut, 486,000 people -- more than one in eight state residents -- were providing care to an adult with limitations in his or her activities at any given point in 2009, according to the report by AARP Public Policy Institute (Levin Becker, 4/27).

Kaiser Health News: Wanted: Mavericks And Missionaries To Solve Mississippi's Doc Shortage
When Janie Guice looks at the Mississippi Delta she sees a vast, flat flood plain, home to cotton fields and catfish farms, but she also sees desperate rural health problems and a deep shortage of doctors to deliver primary care to the region's residents (Hess, 4/26). 

Kaiser Health News: Poor, Sick And Expensive: Colorado's Scaled-Down Medicaid Expansion
Starting in mid-May, Colorado will begin offering Medicaid to adults like [Dale] Miller who make less than $1,080 per year (that's 10 percent of the federal poverty line, or $90 per month) – but there’s a catch. Though the state estimates that there are 50,000 people who meet the income bar, Colorado will only be able to offer the health coverage to 10,000 people. Those people will be chosen by a lottery method in each county, designed to distribute the benefits fairly across the state (Whitney, 4/26).  

Modern Healthcare: Iowa Health, Wellmark Announce ACO Plans
Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa and Iowa Health System, both of Des Moines, announced they will form an accountable care organization. ... IHS includes more than 200 physician clinics and employ more than 24,000, the release said. Wellmark covers 1.8 million customers in Iowa and employs 1,707 in the state, according to the company's website (Selvam, 4/26).

Houston Chronicle: Feds Seize Mental Health Clinic Records In Medicare Fraud Probe
Federal agents with search warrants seized hundreds of patient records from a Houston psychiatric hospital and its two mental health clinics Thursday, part of an escalating Medicare fraud investigation into financial exploitation and care of the mentally ill as detailed last year by the Houston Chronicle. The files, belonging to patients who attend counseling sessions at Westbury Community Hospital and its clinics in southwest Houston and Baytown, were boxed up and loaded into trucks in a pre-dawn swoop by the FBI and investigators from the Texas Attorney General's office (Langford, 4/26).

North Carolina Health News: NC Lawmakers Punt On Drugmaker Liability Bill
A bill that would significantly raise the bar for people suing pharmaceutical companies when they're injured by a drug was sent back to the senate judiciary committee yesterday after several months of meetings and, at times, emotional testimony from opponents. Senators on the judiciary Subcommittee on Pharmaceutical Liability did not make any changes to the proposed legislation and said there were still 'questions' about the bill (Hoban, 4/26).

Kansas Health Institute News: Governor Proposes Additional $1.9 Million For Larned State Hosptial
The funding, administration officials said, was needed to address staffing shortages cited during a recent accreditation survey. ... About half of the $1.9 million, he said, would be used to increase nurses' wages; the other half would allow the hospital to hire 23 additional direct-care workers. ... Larned State Hospital is one of the state's three hospitals for the mentally ill (Ranney, 4/26). 

KQED’s State of Health blog: Humboldt County – Amid Stunning Beauty, Sad Health Profile
[The] California Department of Public Health] recently released its County Health Status Profiles 2012 ... In its overall death rate from all causes, Humboldt ranked next to last, 57th, with 865 deaths per 100,000 people. ... Perhaps the mix of poverty and rural character is a factor, creating a physical and socio-cultural isolation that could be affecting health (Kipling, 4/26).

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