KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Roundup: Fla. Hospitals Divided On Public/Private Oversight; Generous Health Benefits For Calif. Elected Officials

Contra Costa Times/Mercury News: Scores Of Elected Officials Receive Free Health Care On Taxpayers' Dime
Hundreds of part-time elected officials throughout the Bay Area received full-time health care benefits in 2010 at taxpayer expense, with individual policies sometimes costing tens of thousands of dollars, according to government compensation data acquired by Bay Area News Group and published on its websites Sunday. Several officials with multiple government positions double-dipped on health coverage, receiving two taxpayer-funded policies, the data show, and at one small school district in San Jose, the cost of health coverage provided to an elected official was more than four times higher than the cost of insurance provided to each rank-and-file employee (Peele and Willis, 4/24).

McClatchy / Sacramento Bee: Medicare, Medicaid Payments Skyrocket In Sacramento
In the Sacramento region, Medicare and Medicaid payments to individuals have more than doubled during the last 10 years, according to new personal income figures from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. The government paid six times as much to local individuals under Medicare and Medicaid during 2009 as it did to individuals on welfare (unemployment), the data show (4/23). 

Kansas Health Institute News: Medicare Cuts Could Diminish Hospital Services
The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services earlier this week proposed reducing the agency's operating payments to acute care hospitals by 0.5 percent - or $498 million - starting Oct. 1, 2012. Cindy Sameulson of the Kansas Hospital Association said the organization's members, which include the majority of Kansas hospitals, had expected a 2.8 percent inflation adjustment upward rather than a cut in payments. ... Congress in 2007 directed CMS to recoup money lost as the result of a new Medicare payment documentation and coding system that resulted in billions of dollars in overpayments. It gave the agency three years to do so, with fiscal 2012 being the final year (Cauthon, 4/22).

The Connecticut Mirror: The Start Of A Medical Home Boom?
Two large medical groups have become officially recognized patient-centered medical homes, significantly increasing the number of Connecticut health care providers with the designation. ... As of Friday, 113 practices and providers had earned the designation. They represent just a handful of separate practices, but Community Health Center Inc., one of the newest to be recognized, has dozens of providers at 12 sites across the state. It treats many patients who are uninsured or covered by Medicaid, and provides medical, dental and behavioral health care (Levin Becker, 4/22).

The Houston Chronicle: Jails Brace For Influx Of Mentally Ill 
Dr. Steven B. Schnee, executive director of the Mental Health Mental Retardation Authority of Harris County, offered up an extended metaphor one day recently to illustrate the consequences of what he considers catastrophic cuts in state funding for mental health services. ... "It's like saying, we're short money - and we are short money - so we're not going to put oil in our car. Or we're just going to put a little bit of oil in the car," he said (Holley, 4/25).  

The Associated Press/Boston Globe: Mass. Advocates Rallying For Immigrant Health Care
Immigrant advocates in Massachusetts said they are preparing "an intense" lobbying effort to help around 20,000 legal immigrants who are at risk of losing their state sponsored health care coverage under a proposal to slash state spending. The Massachusetts Immigrants & Refugee Advocacy Coalition, or MIRA, said immigrants and their advocates plan in the coming days to make phone calls, send letters and meet face to face with state legislators in an attempt to save funding for a program known as the Commonwealth Care Bridge program. The program provides basic health care for about 20,000 immigrants classified as "aliens with special status" (Contreras, 4/24).

Health News Florida/News Service of Florida: House Bill Would Slow Sale Of Public Hospitals
With the hospital industry divided on the issue, a House committee on Thursday approved a bill that would require judges to sign off on deals that would shift control of public hospitals to private companies. ... "This bill is designed to make sure taxpayers don't get screwed anymore,'' said Barney Bishop, president of Associated Industries of Florida, a business group whose members include for-profit hospitals. But the Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida, which includes public hospitals, is trying to kill the bill (Saunders, 4/22). 

The Miami Herald: Jackson's Governing Body To Vote On Changing Leadership
In what could be the last meeting of both Jackson's outgoing chief executive and its governing board, the Public Health Trust is scheduled to meet at 3 p.m. Monday to formally accept the contract of incoming Chief Executive Carlos Migoya. The televised monthly meeting of the Trust could be its last because one of its members, Commissioner Joe Martinez, is proposing that the 16-member Trust board be replaced by a seven-member Recovery Board (Dorschner, 4/25). 

The Texas Tribune: TribLive: Podolsky On Medical Ed, Health Care Cuts
I interviewed Dr. Daniel Podolsky the president of UT Southwestern Medical Center, about the state of medical education, the cost of health care cuts and the value of academic research (Smith, 4/22).

MinnPost/Med City News: Minnesota Physician Links Business Success To Focus On Women's Health
Clinic Sofia, which has roughly 20 employees, was recently named best OBGYN clinic by readers of two suburban publications. [Dr. Donna Block] ... is mulling an expansion for her women's health practice ... Block's abiding philosophy is very female centric: "We are a community that nurtures healthy, confident women" and "women are the hubs of their families and businesses, and if they're healthy, it spreads," she says. It's also a philosophy that the all-female staff subscribe to at Clinic Sofia. As cheesy as that may sound, those ideals may be the key to the clinic's business success (Parmar, 4/22).

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