KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State News: Calif. GOP Offers Budget Plan

The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune: House Passes Abortion Notification Bill, Changes To 'Conscience Protection' For Health-Care Workers
The House voted 96-0 for a bill that would require abortion providers to post additional information in public spaces; compel the state health agency to develop a new website on termination procedures; and alter the state's conscience protection clause that allows health-care professionals to opt out of certain tasks. ... Planned Parenthood, which provides reproductive counseling and services, including abortions at clinics located outside Louisiana, opposes House Bill 636 as intrusive and unnecessary (Barrow, 5/12). 

Georgia Health News: Deficits Seen For State Health Plan, Medicaid
The health plan that covers about 700,000 state employees, teachers, retirees and school personnel, as well as their dependents, has a projected $109 million budget deficit for 2012, Department of Community Health officials said Thursday. And the state's Medicaid program, which covers 1.6 million Georgians, has a projected shortfall of $50 million to $100 million. ... [Previous] gaps have been filled by the General Assembly when it returns in January to amend the current fiscal year budget. Still, the deficit in the state employee health plan comes despite a 10 percent increase in premiums that members will pay, starting in January. (Miller, 5/12). 

The Baltimore Sun: City Mental Health Clinic In Default On Bank Loans
One of Baltimore's largest providers of drug treatment services is in default on loans of up to $2.5 million, its bank says, raising questions about the financial well-being of a clinic that treats hundreds of addicts in the city. Bank of America is suing Baltimore Behavioral Health Inc. for access to its financial records, alleging that the West Pratt Street clinic is in default and has refused to provide "critical financial information" (Calvert, 5/12). 

Bloomberg: California Republicans Closing Gap Would End Aid To Children, Mentally Ill
California Assembly Republicans proposed stripping funds from child-development and mental-health programs as well as cutting state employment costs by 10 percent to help close a $15.4 billion deficit. ... The proposal offers the first detailed Republican road map to bridging the gap. The party's Assembly caucus said the cuts and revenue gains would preserve funding for public schools and colleges (Nash, 5/13).

Los Angeles Times: GOP Lawmakers Issue Plan To Balance California Budget 
Their proposal would cut roughly $1.3 billion in services for the needy, which Brown proposed in January and which Democratic lawmakers have blocked. Those services include welfare grants, adult day-care centers, in-home assistance for the elderly and help for the disabled. ... Voters would be asked to sign off on a temporary shift of $2.4 billion from mental health and early childhood programs to shrink the deficit (Goldmacher, 5/13).

Kansas Health Institute News: Agreement Reached On Health Care Package
About four and a half hours after House and Senate negotiators said there was little hope for settling their differences on a catch-all health bill, they cut a deal. The two sides agreed Thursday afternoon to blend 12 health-related bills into a single measure, House Bill 2182. ... [It] includes a statutory version of the Health Care Freedom Act, saying that no person, provider or employer can be forced to participate in any health care system or to purchase insurance (Ranney, 5/12).

The Texas Tribune: Budget Cuts Jeopardize Care For Critically Ill Kids
Staring down the barrel of an estimated 28 percent reduction in the Medicaid rates they're paid to care for some 3,300 medically fragile children - some $217 million over the next biennium - the companies that employ private-duty nurses to work in family homes say they could be forced to shut their doors, or else dramatically slash what they pay nurses. ... Between the House and Senate drafts of the budget, these in-home nursing providers would see their Medicaid rates - already slashed 2 percent since September - cut another 3 to 8 percent. ... Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound and a member of the budget conference committee, said she and other lawmakers are "working diligently to restore rate cuts in all health care settings," though she acknowledged it's unlikely to spare them all together (Ramshaw, 5/13).

The Texas Tribune: Women's Health Program Circling the Drain?
Sen. Bob Deuell, R-Greenville, said this morning that he doesn't have the votes in the Senate to bring up a bill to renew the family planning and preventative care program - a measure many Democrats oppose because it would formally ban Planned Parenthood from participating. ...The Women's Health Program, as founded, came with explicit restrictions: Participating clinics could not perform or promote abortions or be affiliated with clinics that do. But for the last five years, Planned Parenthood, which provides abortions at some of some of its clinics but not at any that receive state or federal dollars, has been the Women's Health Program's single biggest participant. ... Deuell's bill, in renewing the Women's Health Program, would've written out all "specialty family planning clinics" like Planned Parenthood in favor of clinics providing comprehensive health care (Ramshaw, 5/12).

California Healthline: Use of Urgent Care Growing in Southern California
Having matured from their early 1970s image of "Docs in a Box," urgent care centers are growing in popularity with patients who would rather not wait to see a doctor -- whether in an office or in the emergency department. Urgent care's growth is partly attributable to immediate and projected shortages of primary care physicians. California barely meets the nationally recognized standard for the number of primary care physicians. ... [The American Academy of Urgent Care Medicine] reports that approximately 8,700 walk-in, stand-alone urgent care centers exist in the U.S. compared with about 4,600 hospital EDs. AAUCM and the Urgent Care Association of America, a trade group, estimate that 400 to 800 new urgent care clinics open each year across the country (Stephens, 5/12). 

The Houston Chronicle: Prescribing Issues Punctuate Texas Dental Board Discipline
Texas doctors aren't the only one's getting into trouble for inappropriately prescribing controlled substances. Some of the state's dentists are, too. On April 15, more than 20 Houston-area dentists and other dental professionals were disciplined by the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners.This was the latest round of sanctions handed down since November (George, 5/11). 

Des Moines Register: Iowa Senate OKs $1.4 Billion Health, Human Services Bill
The Iowa Senate Thursday night approved a $1.4 billion spending package to pay for state health and human services programs for the coming state budget year, beginning July 1, 2011. The biggest part of the bill would provide about $800 million to pay for the state's share of Medicaid, the state-federal health care program for low-income people (Petroski, 5/12).

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