KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Highlights: Va. Governor-Elect Will Keep Republican’s Health Secretary

A selection of health policy stories from Virginia, Illinois and Connecticut.

The Washington Post: McAuliffe To Reappoint McDonnell's Health Secretary, Bill Hazel
Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe will keep Gov. Robert F. McDonnell's health secretary on as his own, a choice that could help the new governor sell Medicaid expansion to wary Republicans but that also infuriates some abortion-rights activists. McAuliffe (D) will announce Wednesday that he will reappoint Dr. William A. Hazel Jr., an orthopaedic surgeon from Northern Virginia who served as secretary of health and human resources under McDonnell (R), two people familiar with the decision said (Vozzella, 12/17).

Chicago Tribune: Quinn Cuts Deal With Union On Medicaid Contract 
[Illinois] Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn is shifting the job of vetting who is eligible to receive state health care coverage for the poor from an outside company to state employees, a move Republicans criticized Tuesday as a "backroom deal" that will undermine efforts to root out fraud and abuse (Garcia, 12/17).

The CT Mirror: How's Your Health care? Community Centers Said: 'Tell Us By Texts, Postcards' 
In theory, everyone in the state has the opportunity to tell lawmakers what they think. But in practice, getting to speak at a public hearing at the state Capitol complex, or even reaching a legislator by email or telephone, can be a challenge. Public hearings often draw dozens of lobbyists and members of the public, who have to sign up early in the day and wait around, sometimes into the night, to testify for up to three minutes. Hoping to help people get their concerns heard, the Community Health Center Association of Connecticut asked consumers to share their thoughts about health care by text message, postcard or online, then conducted follow-up interviews on video with some of those who answered (Becker, 12/17).

The Richmond Times-Dispatch: VCU, U. Va. May Lose $500M For Indigent Care Under ACA
VCU Medical Center and the University of Virginia Medical Center stand to lose about $500 million in federal funds to care for people with no health insurance from 2017 to 2022 through looming cuts under the Affordable Care Act. Secretary of Health and Human Resources William A. Hazel Jr. revealed the newly estimated losses to the two academic medical centers during a meeting Tuesday of the Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission, which is considering whether to expand Virginia's Medicaid program under the federal law. Without Medicaid expansion, the cuts in federal subsidies for indigent care would be "disastrous," said Dr. Sheldon M. Retchin, chief executive officer of the VCU Health System. "It’s going to look like Calcutta. It’s going to be bad" (Martz, 12/18).

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