KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Highlights: Texas Begins New Women’s Health Program

News outlets offer health articles in California, Minnesota, Texas, New Jersey and Wisconsin.

The Texas Tribune: Amid Legal Drama, Texas Takes Over Women's Health Program
Texas is funding the [Women's Health Program] on its own because the federal government pulled funding after the state blocked Planned Parenthood from participating. The Texas version still serves low-income women who would qualify for Medicaid if they became pregnant. It will cover about 110,000 women between 18 and 44 years old with free well-woman exams, basic health care and certain family planning services. ... The big change is where women can go for those services. Women using the plan may not receive any health care from Planned Parenthood or any medical provider "affiliated" with abortion providers (Philpott, 1/3).

Stateline: Uncertainty From Washington Continues For States
[D]eficit reduction and spending cuts will continue to be front and center in Washington in the coming weeks, particularly as the country once again edges closer to the federal debt ceiling. This has state officials bracing for the possibility of more comprehensive tax reform and changes in entitlements such as Medicaid. The largest single component of total state spending, edging out K-12 education, Medicaid had been exempt from the sequestration cuts. But that could change in broader deficit reduction talks (Prah, 1/4).

NJ Spotlight (New Jersey): Higher Payments May Prompt More NJ Doctors To Accept Medicaid Patients
The federal government will cover the difference between Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements for 146 primary-care services from Jan. 1 through the end of 2014. The increased payments will be made to family physicians, pediatricians and internal medicine doctors who specialize in primary care. ... The state hasn’t announced when doctors will begin receiving the higher Medicaid rate, which will be paid retroactively for services provided beginning on Jan. 1 (Kitchenman, 1/4).

MPR: 'Medi-Scare:' Behind The Sinister Fundraising Mailers Sent To Minn. Seniors
Tax-exempt political groups pledging to protect Medicare and Social Security send out sinister, sometimes false, missives asking elderly people to send a donation to fight, for instance, an effort to raise "Medicare Premiums at a rate that is far faster and greater than the Cost of Living Increase allotted," as one letter from a group called the Federation of Responsible Citizens requests. ... Even in the digital age, it remains an effective way to reach older people who are at the center of a debate in Washington over whether to cut entitlement spending (Richert, 1/3).

California Healthline: CMS Meets Deadline For Approving Healthy Families Transition
Tight up against the end-of-year deadline, CMS officials on Dec. 31 granted approval of California's plan to move 860,000 Healthy Families children into Medi-Cal managed care programs. Federal officials asked for changes to the transition plan, including more frequent monitoring and evaluation of the transition to better ensure children are able to access primary care physicians under the new plan (Gorn, 1/3).

California Healthline: San Diego Diabetes Program Working, Gaining Attention
Over the past 15 years, more than 18,000 San Diegans with diabetes have been involved in a focused care management program that has proven to be both clinically and cost effective, according to recent findings. A study published in the fall issue of the journal Clinical Diabetes compiles research that was conducted over the course of 15 years  (Zamosky, 1/3).

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Contract Proposal For Patient Rides Allows Leeway
After Wisconsin selects a new medical transportation provider to replace the embattled LogistiCare, patients may spend more time on the phone when they call to make reservations or complaints. And their service complaints will still be processed by the same company that messed up, rather than a third party. On the upside, the state will be able to provide better oversight and beef up enforcement (Laasby, 1/3). 

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