KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

In N.J., Patients Who Receive Free AIDS Meds To Face Stricter Income Limits; Some W. Va. State Employees Will No Longer Receive Monthly Insurance Subsidies

The (Bergen County, N.J.) Record: "New Jersey will no longer provide free AIDS medications for 950 people who are HIV-positive, under a little-noticed provision of the state budget enacted this month. In letters received over the weekend, the state Health Department told patients about new income guidelines for a program that enables thousands infected with HIV or diagnosed with AIDS to receive life-sustaining yet expensive anti-retroviral drugs. As of Aug. 1, a patient's income cannot exceed $32,490, instead of the previous threshold of $54,150" (Washburn, 7/12). "One of the perks of being a West Virginia state employee or public school teacher is a monthly subsidy - paid primarily by the state - that helps workers cover the costs of their health insurance premiums upon retirement. The average monthly subsidy is $333 per retiree. … The state's newest hires, however, may be in for a shock. As of July 1, West Virginia no longer offers its subsidy to new employees or teachers. Any post-retirement health care costs for these workers will be theirs alone, unless they qualify for the federal government's Medicare program. The dramatic change puts West Virginia in the company of just a handful of states - including Florida, Kansas, Minnesota, Mississippi and Wisconsin - that now or in the future will require their retirees to pay the full cost of their health insurance premiums" (Gramlich, 7/13).

Billings Gazette: "State employees aren't eligible to enroll their children in a portion of Healthy Montana Kids, the government-funded health insurance plan for low- and middle-income families, but that may change soon. The federal health reform bill passed by Congress in March gives states the option of allowing their employees' children to be eligible for the Children's Health Insurance Plan, or CHIP, one of two government-financed health plans that make up Healthy Montana Kids. Montana health officials said Monday that the state has asked the federal government how to take advantage of this option, thus allowing its workers to sign up their kids for CHIP. Once the federal government offers more guidance, the state expects to amend its CHIP plan to allow state workers' kids to qualify" (7/13).

Kansas Health Institute: "The Kansas Medical Society and the Kansas Hospital Association announced today that they will join to create a statewide health information exchange, early phases of which are expected to be operational in the state's two largest metropolitan areas by year's end. The initiative, organizers said, will incorporate the work already done by two fledgling regional exchanges - one each in Wichita and Kansas City - that so far remain the most advanced efforts to date to have Kansas medical providers linked electronically so that patient information can be easily and immediately shared" (Shields, 7/12). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.