KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Roundup: State Workers In Conn. Get Lock On Retirement Health Funds

News outlets report on a variety of state health policy issues.

The Connecticut Mirror: Clarified Concession Deal Puts Retiree Health Care Funds In Lock Box
State employees have never warmed to the idea of having to contribute a portion of their pay to help fund their retirement health care, and one of the arguments they make against it is the history of special accounts' being used as a piggybank by legislators and governors when money is tight. But while all unionized employees would have to start contributing toward their retirement health care under the concession package now undergoing a second vote, new language in the agreement guarantees this account can't be raided to prop up future state budgets (Phaneuf, 8/4).

The Texas Tribune: Perry, Allies Lay Groundwork for TX Stem Cell Industry
Over the last two months, Rick Perry, a state representative with multiple sclerosis and the spine surgeon who performed the governor's July 1 adult stem cell infusion have been laying the foundation for the commercialization of the controversial procedure in Texas. In the month before Dr. Stanley Jones injected Perry with his own lab-grown stem cells during a spinal fusion - designed to speed recovery of the possible presidential hopeful's back injury - lawmakers passed a health care bill that quietly authorized creation of a state adult stem cell bank (Ramshaw, 8/4). 

California Healthline: Lessons Learned From PacAdvantage Failure
The Pacific Business Group on Health (PBGH) has had some experience in running a small group purchasing pool. ... That organization was similar in concept to California's Health Benefit Exchange. A new report from PBGH outlines some of the lessons the exchange might learn from PacAdvantage's slow demise."The biggest lesson is, exchanges are naturally vulnerable to adverse selection," according to report co-author Bill Kramer, the executive director of national health policy at PBGH (Gorn, 8/4).

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Rising Cost Of Health Benefits Unlikely To Slow Soon
The inexorable rise in the cost of health benefits shows no signs of abating. Health insurance premiums increased 8 percent to 10 percent on average for employers and employees in the Milwaukee area this year, with much steeper increases for some small employers, according to the annual survey done by HCTrends. That's down from average increases of 11 percent to 13 percent last year. The overall cost of living, in contrast, increased 1.6% last year. The HCTrends survey and others show that little headway has been made in slowing the rise in health care costs - and little suggests the long-established trend is likely to change in the short term (Boulton, 8/4).

New Hampshire Public Radio: New Hampshire Hospital Woes
Hospitals were one of many groups that were hit hard by these latest rounds of state budget cuts which took effect on July 1. To balance the books, the Legislature held almost $230 million dollars in Medicaid money from the state's hospitals. Last week, 10 New Hampshire hospitals filed a lawsuit against the U.S. District Court over this decision, while others have been forced to carry thought with layoffs (Knoy, 8/5). 

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