KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Roundup: Labor Unions Continue Wis. Governor Recall Push

A selection of health policy news from Wisconsin, Minnesota, California, Minnesota, Kansas and Connecticut.

Reuters/Chicago Tribune: Labor Union Hopes Of Ousting Wisconsin Governor Fade
Democrats and unions hoping to turn Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker out of office over his efforts to tame the power of organized labor are finding it tough going with only two weeks to go before a historic recall election. … Walker pushed through the legislature a law requiring public sector union members to pay part of the cost of health insurance and pensions, limited pay rises, made paying union dues voluntary and forced unions to be recertified every year (5/22).

Kaiser Health News: Minnesota Seeks Bridge Across 'Affordability Gap'
Under the 2010 health law, millions of Americans will gain access to affordable health insurance. But in Minnesota, many are concerned that an affordability gap will leave about 100,000 low-income Minnesotans struggling to pay for health care (Stawicki, 5/23).

California Healthline: Kaiser Balks At Joining Healthy Families Conversion To Medi-Cal
The planned switch of Healthy Families children into Medi-Cal could leave as many as 43,000 children looking for new health care providers if the state can't convince Kaiser Foundation Health Plan to join the effort. That number would grow to 189,000 children if the state eventually converts all Healthy Families children to the Medi-Cal program.  On Tuesday, the Senate budget subcommittee for Health and Human Services rejected a plan to move the entire Healthy Families population of 875,000 kids to Medi-Cal all at once, instead starting with a pool of roughly 200,000 "bright line" children -- beneficiaries who are at or below 133 percent of federal poverty level (Gorn, 5/23). (Kaiser Health News is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.)

HealthyCal: Removing The Stigma From Mental Illness
(Ron) Oden recently recalled his Felicia's battle with paranoid schizophrenia at a Summit on Mental Illness hosted by the Coachella Valley Health Collaborative (CVHC) at Cal State San Bernardino's Palm Desert campus. The Mental Health Summit is the first part of a campaign funded by a $100,000 grant from Riverside County to improve awareness of mental health issues, increase access to treatment, and reduce stigma (Potter, 5/23).

HealthyCal: Service Offers Low-Cost Rides To Seniors, Visually-Impaired
Judy Daniels, a Salinas senior, doesn’t drive anymore. Her family members live out of the area and she doesn’t like to impose on friends to drive her to the grocery store, doctors’ appointments or to do other errands. But her options for getting around her town increased recently with a nonprofit transportation service that allows seniors, the visually-impaired or others with limited mobility to get from point A to point B at a low cost. Independent Transportation Network Monterey launched in January and by March had tripled the number of rides they gave to members their first month (Flores, 5/22).

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Team Care Slicing Medial Costs
More than 2 million Minnesotans now get care in medical clinics that aim to improve treatment and reduce costs by offering a coordinated team approach to health care -- especially for those patients with difficult medical conditions -- the state Department of Health said Tuesday. The model, known as a "health care home,'' represents a core element of a sweeping 2007 state law designed to reform Minnesota's health care system by raising quality, controlling costs and improving accountability. While still a new effort, the health care home system has resulted in a 5 percent reduction in costs for patients whose care is paid for by Medica, said Dr. Jim Guyn, medical director of provider relations at the state's second-largest health insurer (Wolfe, 5/22).

Kansas Health Institute News: KanCare Work Groups Proposed
Administration officials on Monday announced plans for forming four stakeholder work groups to ensure a smooth transition to KanCare, Gov. Sam Brownback’s plan for remaking the state's Medicaid program. "We'll be bringing stakeholders to the table - whether they be advocates, providers, or professional associations – to engage in some of the nitty-gritty details of what we'll be dealing with," said Kansas Department on Aging Secretary Shawn Sullivan, addressing the second meeting of the 20-member KanCare Advisory Council (Ranney, 5/22).

CT Mirror: Seniors Wait For Home Care While Their Applications Linger In 'Black Hole'
People involved in the home care system say delays in handling applications at [Department of Social Services] have left hundreds of seniors in similar positions, waiting months for services they've been deemed qualified for, services that could be critical to keeping them safe and healthy. … DSS officials have acknowledged the challenges they face in processing applications for all the programs the department runs. The number of eligibility workers is down more than 30 percent in the past decade, despite rising demand for services (Levin Becker, 5/22).

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