KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Roundup: Federal Judge Extends Ban On Texas Cut To Planned Parenthood Funding; Hospital Tax Break Could Cost Ill. $10M Per Year

Bloomberg: Planned Parenthood Wins Extended Ban On Texas Funding Cuts
Planned Parenthood won an extension of an order blocking Texas from making cuts in funding to its clinics because the organization provides abortion services. Texas officials were stopped by an Oct. 26 temporary restraining order issued by Judge Amy Clark Meachum in Austin from eliminating public funds for the 49 Planned Parenthood clinics in the state that don’t provide abortions. After a hearing yesterday in Austin, U.S. District Judge Stephen Yelenosky said he is extending Meachum’s order (Shannon, 11/9).

The Dallas Morning News: Ruling Keeps Planned Parenthood In Women's Health Program
A state judge decided Thursday to extend an injunction that keeps Planned Parenthood in the federal women’s health program. The injunction from Judge Stephen Yelenosky lasts until mid-December, when the court will hear a case for a permanent injunction. "The state may claim that the effect on women is 'irrelevant' but today’s ruling is a small but critical victory for the approximately 50,000 Texas women who rely on Planned Parenthood," said Patricio Gonzales, CEO of the Planned Parenthood Association of Hidalgo County (Cardona, 11/8).

The Associated Press: Little-Known Hospital Tax Break To Cost Illinois $10M A Year
A little-noticed tax break for investor-owned hospitals that was tucked into a deal last spring aimed at saving the Illinois Medicaid program from collapse will cost the cash-strapped state at least $10 million a year in lost revenue, according to an analysis by The Associated Press. Hospital industry officials say the tax credit recognizes the free care they provide to the uninsured (Johnson, 11/8).

The Dallas Morning News: Expanded Medicaid Plan For Texas Expected To Improve Access To Care
Thousands of North Texans who have struggled to find adequate health care could see improved access to medical services under an expanded Medicaid plan expected to bring $4 billion to local doctors and hospitals over five years. So far, in the first phase, 95 new medical projects would target Medicaid recipients in Dallas, Denton and Kaufman counties. The projects range from expanded chronic care management at Parkland Memorial Hospital to improved diabetes treatment at Methodist Dallas Medical Center. For more than a year, health care officials from the three counties have been hunched over plans that would improve care for those insured under Medicaid, a state-federal program that provides care for low-income Texans (Jacobson, 11/8).

The Associated Press: San Francisco Plans To Provide Transgender Surgeries For Uninsured Residents
San Francisco is preparing to become the first U.S. city to provide and cover the cost of sex reassignment surgeries for uninsured transgender residents. The city's Health Commission voted Tuesday to create a comprehensive program for treating transgender people experiencing mental distress because of the mismatch between their bodies and their gender identities. San Francisco already provides transgender residents with hormones, counseling and routine health services, but has stopped short of offering surgical interventions, Public Health Director Barbara Garcia said Thursday after the vote was announced (Leff, 11/8).

Los Angeles Times: L.A. Councilwoman Offers Pension Overhaul Plan
Warning that Los Angeles is facing insolvency, mayoral candidate and City Councilwoman Jan Perry outlined her plan Thursday for reforming the city's employee pension and benefits system. ... Perry said she would press city employees to increase the amount they contribute to their healthcare and pension costs. About 70% of the city's workforce pays nothing toward their health insurance premiums, said City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana. The changes would save an estimated $44 million per year, Perry said. That savings would fill only a portion of next year's budget shortfall, which is projected to reach $216 million (Mai-Duc and Linthicum, 11/9).

The Boston Globe: Medical Marijuana Law Will Challenge Overseers
Voters' approval of medical use of marijuana on Tuesday is already prompting questions about the readiness of beleaguered state health regulators, local communities, and police to oversee the retail outlets where the drug will be sold. The law, which won majorities in all but two Massachusetts communities, takes effect Jan. 1. But some groups, including the Massachusetts Municipal Association, are calling on the Legislature to delay it. Town officials must draft zoning rules stipulating where the distribution centers may be located — or whether to allow them at all — and police departments are grappling with how to deal with a law that is in direct conflict with federal drug policy and their own training (Conaboy, 11/9).

California Healthline: Budget Expert Unfazed By Supermajority In Calif. Legislature
Fears that the Legislature might spend money faster than a speeding bullet are unfounded, despite the possibility that the Democrats in Sacramento could have a two-thirds supermajority in both houses, according to Chris Hoene, executive director of the California Budget Project. However, if election results in several key races too close to call go in Democrats' favor, the new supermajority could have an impact on health care policy, particularly cuts to health care, Hoene said (Gorn, 11/9).

California Healthline: Will Prop. 30 Move Government Away From 'Fee-For-Service'?
Characterizing passage of Proposition 30 as "a reinvestment in the broader common good," California Health and Human Services Secretary Diana Dooley said voters' willingness to tax themselves may signal a move away from "fee-for-service government." Prop. 30 proponents say the initiative's approval may indicate California's taxing pendulum has reached the other side of the arc started by Prop. 13 in 1978. That landmark property tax rollback pulled away much of the funding for the state education system and increased pressure on other parts of state government, including health care (Lauer. 11/8).

The Lund Report: Health Care Leaders Stress Need For Diversity In Oregon Coordinated Care
As the state's coordinated care organizations ramp up, health care experts agree that a major advance CCOs can bring to the table is the ability to custom-design health care priorities based on the needs of a specific community. But that won’t necessarily be easy, experts speaking at a conference last week agreed. “The challenge is getting adequate representation from the community,” Benton County Health Department Director Mitch Anderson told a CCO conference on November 1. The gathering was co-sponsored by Community Health Advocates of Oregon (CHAO) and the Oregon Primary Care Association (OPCA) and attended by more than 250 healthcare professionals. Diversity -- or the lack of it -- at the planning phase was a major topic of discussion. Each CCO is required to have an advisory committee that represents the community it serves (Widman, 11/8).

The Lund Report: People On Medicaid Struggle With Mental Health, Substance Abuse Problems
There’s a very high preponderance of people on the Oregon Health Plan who have a mental health or substance abuse problem, according to Mary Monnat, president and CEO of LifeWorks NW. In the Portland metropolitan area, such problems affect 70 percent of that population. Now that coordinated care organizations are under way, it’s not only important for people to receive better coverage, but mental health professionals also need to connect their patients with primary care physicians, said Monnat (McCurdy, 11/8).

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.