KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Roundup: Med Schools In Texas Face Budget Crunch

Chicago Tribune: Patients' Right To Know Act Passes Assembly
Patients would have access to detailed histories of Illinois doctors - including whether the physician has been fired, convicted of a crime or made a medical malpractice payment in the past five years - under legislation headed to the governor's desk (Twohey, 5/17).

The Texas Tribune: Overshadowed, Med Schools Face Drastic Reductions
At a time when Texas is grappling with a dire - and growing - physician shortfall, medical schools say they won't be able to fully fund the roughly 5,600 students currently enrolled, and could be forced to curb new admissions next year. ... That predicament is an estimated 20 percent cut in state funding across Texas' nine medical institutions over the next biennium - the result of a 5 to 10 percent cut in formula funding, and the loss of tens of millions of dollars in federal stimulus dollars (Ramshaw, 5/18).

The Baltimore Sun: Coalition Unveils Next Steps To Improve Access To Dental Care In Maryland
Members of a statewide coalition formed after the death of a 12-year-old boy from Prince George's County from an untreated tooth infection unveiled a plan Tuesday to improve access to dental care. The plan from the Maryland Dental Action Coalition builds on one formed in 2007 after the death of Deamonte Driver, which addressed the immediate shortage of oral care professionals who would treat low-income children by increasing the Medicaid reimbursement, streamlining the system and expanding safety net programs (Cohn, 5/17). 

Los Angeles Times: Anti-Union Law Puts Milwaukee Teachers Union In Spotlight
Last year, Milwaukee's struggling public school system fired the woman named Wisconsin's outstanding first-year teacher because of union rules that protect senior teachers and require newer ones to be laid off first. As it cuts 560 more teaching jobs this year, the district faces a bill more than double its entire $1-billion budget to pay for retired teachers' health benefits, a deal that one former school board member described as "the most opulent healthcare package in the world, including Sweden" (Riccardi, 5/18).

The Boston Globe: Senate Plan Gives More To Unions
Massachusetts Senate leaders, breaking their silence over one of the most hotly debated issues on Beacon Hill, will release a plan today to curb the collective bargaining rights of teachers, police officers, and other municipal workers in an effort to save money for struggling cities and towns. The plan, which will be released as part of the Senate's budget proposal, follows a vote in the House last month that made it the first Democratic-led chamber in the nation to reduce public employee bargaining rights. Governor Deval Patrick has offered his own version of the legislation aimed at controlling the escalating cost of health insurance for cities and towns (Bierman and Levenson, 5/18).

WBUR: Gov. Patrick Urges Changes In Health Care
It's a big problem, it's complicated and we have to solve it now. That's the message Gov. Deval Patrick wanted to impart at a State House hearing on one of his top priorities: getting control of rising health care costs. ... Lawmakers heard from the governor, his top lieutenants and a wide variety of doctors, employers, hospital leaders and consumers Monday. ... Patrick says [his plan] will be better care, more coordinated care and we will get more of the care we need and less of what we don't need. ... That approach is supposed to lower costs (Pfeiffer and Bebinger, 5/16). 

The Lund Report (Oregon): Hospitals Warn Against Massive OHP Changes
The Oregon hospital association confirmed it's prepared to finalize an agreement with lawmakers to increase the hospital provider tax as a way to dampen the massive cuts to the Oregon Health Plan slated over the next two years. The tax is used to leverage federal dollars and pay for the entire OHP Standard population comprised of about 175,000 current enrollees who represent an expanded Medicaid population. The proposed increase to the provider tax would extend to services for all OHP clients (Rosenfeld, 5/17). 

California Healthline: May Revise Targets Mental Health, Healthy Families and More
There were several major developments in California's health policy world yesterday, with the release of Gov. Jerry Brown's (D) May budget revise. It started with an almost offhand comment from Brown: "We are eliminating the Department of Mental Health," Brown said. Then later he added, "We want to eliminate 43 boards and commissions in California." ... Brown's May revise also targets Healthy Families, and the state's plan for adult day health care centers could be changing (Gorn, 5/17). 

Stateline: In New York, A 'Big First Step' Toward Fiscal Sustainability
[Gov. Andrew] Cuomo had good reason to focus on Medicaid and education. Besides being programs on which the state spends most of its money, they're also areas where New York spends more prolifically than other states do. For example, New York's Medicaid program is one of only a handful that provides full coverage to childless adults below the poverty line. ... spending on Medicaid and education has been guided by funding formulas that, for the upcoming fiscal year, assumed spending increases of around 13 percent. Although the formulas are enshrined in state law, lawmakers have ignored them before. This year's budget goes even further. ... Medicaid won't be allowed to grow faster than a key index of health care inflation that currently stands at 4 percent (Goodman, 5/18). 

Dallas Morning News: Drugs For Low-Income HIV Patients At Risk In Tentative Texas Budget Deal
Lawmakers negotiating the state budget have rejected the state health department's request for nearly $20 million to help thousands of low-income Texans obtain free drugs for treatment of HIV or AIDS. Budget negotiators say the state will not restrict free drugs for nearly 16,000 people with the conditions (Garrett, 5/17).

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