KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

State Highlights: KanCare Rx Plan Would Change Under Budget Proposal; Fla. House Panel OKs Bill To End ‘Certificate-Of-Need’ Process

News outlets report on health care developments in Kansas, Florida, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois, and California.

The Kansas Health Institute News Service: Budget Plan Includes Changes To KanCare Prescriptions, End Of 'Health Homes' Program
Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration on Wednesday unveiled a budget proposal that would require new KanCare patients to try less-expensive drugs first and end a pilot program to improve the health of Kansans with severe mental illnesses. In a presentation to members of the House and Senate committees that control spending, Budget Director Shawn Sullivan outlined how Brownback planned to cover a projected $190 million shortfall in the fiscal year 2017 budget. The proposal relies on a series of revenue transfers and $105.7 million in spending reductions to balance the budget and generate an ending balance of nearly $88 million. (Hart, 1/13)

News Service Of Florida: Health Industry Regulatory Changes Sail In House
A House panel Tuesday quickly approved two high-profile bills that would revamp health-care regulations --- and are drawing opposition from at least parts of the hospital industry. The House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee approved a measure (HB 437), filed by Rep. Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, that would eliminate the "certificate of need" regulatory process for hospitals. That process requires hospitals to get state approval for building or expanding facilities and for adding certain programs. (1/13)

The News Service Of Florida: House Speaker Backs KidCare For Legal Immigrants
To the surprise and delight of lawmakers who have long backed the proposal, House Speaker Steve Crisafulli on Tuesday called for eliminating a five-year waiting period for children of legal immigrants to be eligible for the state's KidCare health-insurance program. KidCare is a subsidized program that serves children from low- and moderate-income families. Children of lawfully residing immigrants currently have to wait five years before they can become eligible. The proposed bills lifting the waiting period would not apply to undocumented immigrants. (Menzel, 1/13)

The Kansas Health Institute News Service: Brownback Working Group To Tackle Rural Health Problems
A key member of Gov. Sam Brownback’s new rural health working group says he hopes the initiative is a serious effort to address problems facing rural providers, not an attempt to divert attention from a renewed push to expand the state’s Medicaid program. Republican Rep. Jim Kelly represents Independence, the southeast Kansas community that recently lost its only hospital due to budget problems exacerbated by federal reductions in Medicare reimbursement rates and the state’s rejection of Medicaid expansion. (McLean, 1/13)

Forum News Service: Lawmakers Told Not All Minnesota Doctors On Board With Medical Marijuana
Many Minnesota doctors question the use of medical marijuana. An informal survey presented to a committee of Minnesota legislators and other involved with the subject Tuesday showed many doctors do not think they know enough about the subject to recommend their patients take it, worry that marijuana use is similar to narcotic use, do not support its use for severe pain and that the state medical marijuana law may cause conflict with patients. (Davis, 1/13)

The Associated Press: Michigan National Guard, FEMA Help Flint Amid Water Crisis
Members of the Michigan National Guard began arriving in Flint on Wednesday for briefings on the drinking water crisis just as state health officials reported a spike in Legionnaires' disease cases in the county where the city is located. Gov. Rick Snyder activated the National Guard late Tuesday, and Lt. Col. William Humes confirmed about a half-dozen representatives arrived Wednesday morning. They are part of a larger contingent of Guardsmen who will help distribute bottled water, filters and other supplies to residents. (Schneider and Eggert, 1/14)

The Kansas Health Institute News Service: Kansas Infant Mortality Problem Pushes Experts To Rethink Approach
Thanks to advances in prenatal and neonatal care, the overwhelming majority of infants are born healthy and thrive. But sometimes things don’t go as planned. In Johnson County, for every 1,000 infants born in recent years, fewer than five don’t make it to their first birthday. In Wyandotte County, the number is closer to eight. For African Americans in both counties, the numbers are even higher. In fact, for the last few years the black infant mortality rate in Kansas has been the highest in the country. (Smith, 1/13)

The Daily Southtown: Collateral Damage In State's Budget War
Vera Cassata, 84, of Tinley Park [Ill.] depends on a home health care assistant to get her out of bed in the morning, wash her, dress her, buy food and help her go to the bathroom. Five days a week the home health care assistant visits, but due to the state budget crisis that help may disappear by the end of the month. Shay Health Care Services of Oak Forest provides home health care assistants for about 300 elderly residents of the Southland, which allows them to remain in their homes instead of going into nursing homes if their families can't provide the care they need. Shay has a contract with the state's Department on Aging to provide home care assistants and is supposed to be paid $170,000 a month. But since July 1, 2015, when the state failed to adopt a new budget, it has not been paid. (Kadner, 1/13)

The Associated Press: California Tubal Ligation Fight Heads To Court Thursday
A San Francisco judge is set to hear arguments Thursday over whether to require a Catholic hospital to perform a contraceptive procedure known as tubal ligation. Attorneys for Rebecca Chamorro, the woman seeking the procedure, say Mercy Medical Center in Redding denied her the procedure. Chamorro wants to get the procedure immediately following her scheduled cesarean section Jan. 28 because she and her husband do not want more children. (1/14)

The Associated Press: Mental Health CEO Who Hired Fortuneteller Gets Prison
The head of a southwestern Michigan mental health agency has learned his future: at least 32 months in prison for using public money to hire a fortuneteller. Ervin Brinker was sentenced by a Lansing-area judge Wednesday, two months after pleading guilty to embezzlement and Medicaid fraud conspiracy. (1/13)

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