KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State News: Wash. Adults Could Lose Medicaid Coverage For Prescriptions, Michigan Restores Services

Detroit Free Press: "Michigan has reopened through Nov. 30 a program that provides free or nearly free medical care to adults 21 and older. The benefits could help as many as 58,000 poor people - some who couldn't previously get help because the Adult Medical Program, as it is called, had been frozen since May 31, 2009, because of state budget cuts. In addition, some 580,000 people who now receive Medicaid will be able to get free or low-cost dental, vision and podiatric care. Some of the services require small co-pays of $2 or $3. Those services have been frozen since July 1, 2009, except for emergencies such as tooth extraction, also because of budget cuts. Michigan's Legislature approved restoring the programs to help the state get $350 million in federal Medicaid matching funds" (Anstett, 10/13).

The Seattle Times: "Some 500,000 Washington adults whose prescriptions are covered by Medicaid could soon lose that benefit unless lawmakers provide special funding when they reconvene in January. Medicaid's adult drug program, which provides medication to the state's poorest individuals through a combination of state and federal funding, will be eliminated in March if the Legislature can't come up with $40 million before Feb. 1, according to the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS). Washington would be the only state to eliminate the program" (Walsh, 10/13).

Billings (Mont.) Gazette: "The [Gov. Brian] Schweitzer administration is considering a test run of having a private, managed-care firm run Medicaid, the state's $900 million health care program for the poor." The Gazette notes that 99,600 Montanans are now covered by Medicaid, "its highest level ever. The economic recession has swelled the ranks of the program, which is one of the largest single expenditures in the state budget" (Denison, 10/13).

The Boston Globe: "With the state Public Health Council voting unanimously yesterday to grant new licenses for Caritas Christi Health Care's six hospitals, including St. Elizabeth's Medical Center and Carney Hospital in Boston, the Catholic health care system will now petition the state's highest court to transfer ownership to a New York private equity firm." Approval "would create the state's first large for-profit health care chain under the umbrella of Cerberus Capital Management. ... The council issued the licenses [and] imposed two conditions recommended by the staff of the Department of Public Health. One was to strengthen translation services at the Caritas hospitals. The second was to continue community health initiatives, ranging from substance abuse prevention to wellness and nutritional programs" (Weisman, 10/14).

The Salt Lake Tribune: "Hundreds of low-income, pregnant women found themselves without care after the abrupt closure of Westview Medical Center in late August. The West Valley City clinic is under investigation for defrauding Medicaid. Prosecutors allege the clinic - and its affiliated billing company, All Medical Billing Inc. - coached undocumented immigrants to lie about their citizenship in order to obtain two months of free prenatal care under Utah's Baby Your Baby program. No charges have been filed. ...  Meanwhile, health centers throughout Salt Lake Valley are hustling to absorb the clinic's abandoned patients" (Stewart, 10/13).

The (Fort Wayne, Ind.) Journal Gazette: "A Fort Wayne-based group home company said Tuesday it will immediately shut its doors because it can no longer operate without money the state is withholding. Your Friends and Neighbors officials blamed the closure on state officials who last month announced they would no longer consider the company an approved Medicaid provider and would stop all Medicaid funding. Your Friends and Neighbors disputed the state's decision to remove its clients." About 135 people are affected (Turner, 10/13).

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