KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Around The Legislatures: Texas Passes Health Program Revamp

Legislators in Texas, Oregon and Massachusetts worked on several major pieces of health care legislation.

Dallas Morning News: Texas Health Care Bill With Medicare, Abortion Provisions Goes To Rick Perry
The Legislature approved and sent to the governor Monday a health care savings bill under which Texas could seek permission to redesign entirely the Medicaid and Medicare programs, and abortion-rights opponents scored several victories in the measure (Garrett, 6/27). 

The Texas Tribune: Updated: House, Senate Pass Health Reform Bill
SB 7 ... is designed to save the state more than $400 million over the 2012-2013 biennium by making Medicaid more cost-effective and expanding Medicaid managed care into the Rio Grande Valley. The measure also allows doctors to partner with hospitals and other health care groups to reach better outcomes. The bill is a fan favorite for abortion opponents, because it includes amendments aimed at taking more family planning dollars away from outfits like Planned Parenthood, and barring hospital districts that use tax revenue to finance an abortion from getting state funding, except in the case of a medical emergency (Ramshaw, 6/27).

Politico: Texas To Defund Planned Parenthood
The Texas Legislature approved a bill Monday that would both compel the state to push the Obama administration to convert Texas's Medicaid program into a block grant and defund abortion providers like Planned Parenthood (Kliff, 6/27).

The Oregonian: Oregon House Passes Health Care Transformation Bill To Reduce Costs
A bill presenting the centerpiece of Gov. John Kitzhaber's plan to save costs and improve health care passed swiftly through the Oregon House today. House Bill 3650 would attempt to transform health care in Oregon by creating coordinated teams of doctors, nurses, dentists and other providers focused on prevention and primary care. It passed 59-1 in the House with little debate and heads next to the Senate (Graves, 6/27). 

The Lund Report: Oregon House Passes OHP Transformation
The Oregon House of Representatives passed sweeping reforms to the Oregon Health Plan today by a vote of 59-to-1. House Bill 3650, known as healthcare "transformation," heads next to the Senate. ... The legislation puts in motion a plan to consolidate the roughly 40 managed care organizations that currently administer the Oregon Health Plan into regional "coordinated care organizations" that can better manage chronic conditions and offer preventive services. By coordinating physical, dental and mental healthcare, which are currently handled in silos, the hope is that the state can improve care and save money (Rosenfeld, 6/27). 

Boston Globe: Legislators Vow Bill To Curb Health Care Costs
State legislative leaders made their strongest statements yet in support of placing significant cost controls on health care, predicting yesterday that they will agree on a bill as early as the fall. Senate and House leaders who spoke on the first day of a public hearing sponsored by Governor Deval Patrick's administration provided new details about the proposal they are writing, and what they consider the key elements needed to improve the quality of care for patients, while at the same time reining in payments to hospitals and doctors (Kowalczyk, 6/28).

WBUR's Commonhealth blog: With Growing Call To Limit Health Costs, Lawmakers Consider Caps
There's a growing call for the state to set limits on how much health care costs rise each year. House and Senate leaders joined the call yesterday, signaling that the bill they're drafting will keep health care spending in Massachusetts in line with inflation or a similar economic measure. House chairman of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing, Steven Walsh, says holding spending increases in the range of 3 ½% is achievable and would give insurers, doctors and hospitals predictability (Bebinger, 6/28).

WBUR's Commonhealth blog: Coakley Speaks On Market Dysfunction
Attorney General Martha Coakley took the stage today at the Bunker Hill Community College auditorium to tell the audience that, according to the findings in her recent report, the health care marketplace is still dysfunctional and global payments alone will not bring medical costs down. Speaking at the state hearings on health care cost trends, she reiterated that if the market "distortion" (in which some providers are paid far more for services without necessarily offering better quality) isn't resolved, "temporary statutory restrictions," should be imposed. After being asked several times and in several ways, what, exactly, might be involved in these government restrictions, she refused to offer any details. "We have to consider some action," she said, but "we're not going farther than that today" (Zimmerman, 6/27).

The Star-Ledger: Budget A Sharp Contrast To Gov's Plan
Democrats all but sat on the sidelines last year as Gov. Chris Christie's spartan budget sailed through the Legislature they control. This year they're digging in their heels, and Monday advanced a spending plan that stands in sharp contrast with the governor's. The proposal to spend $30.6 billion – $1 billion more than Christie – would restore education spending, boost tax relief to the working poor and prevent steep cuts to Medicaid. It cleared budget committees in the Senate and the Assembly Monday, and the Democrat-controlled Legislature is expected to approve it tomorrow, two days before the deadline (Megerian, 6/28).

Meanwhile, in Minnesota, officials and residents are contemplating the possibility of a government shutdown.

CNN Money: Minnesota Government Shutdown Could Hurt Kids
The neediest residents in Minnesota could lose their lifelines if there is a state government shutdown. Social service agencies around the state are scrambling to find ways to continue helping their clients if Governor Mark Dayton and Republican lawmakers don't settle their budget differences before Friday. Without an agreement, the state government would shut down and many agencies could see their main source of funding disappear. … Some 90% of the center's clients are covered by a state health-insurance program, such as Medicaid. If the center loses that funding, it will have to cut off services for children and families contending with severe mental health issues (Luhby, 6/27). 

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