KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Roundup: Fla. Leaders Pay Less For Coverage Than Workers

A selection of health policy stories from New York, Kansas, Nebraska, Florida and California.

The New York Times: Biotech Firms, Billions At Risk, Lobby States To Limit Generics
In statehouses around the country, some of the nation's biggest biotechnology companies are lobbying intensively to limit generic competition to their blockbuster drugs, potentially cutting into the billions of dollars in savings on drug costs contemplated in the federal health care overhaul law (Pollack, 1/28).

The New York Times: Rescue Plan Is Emerging For Hospital In Manhattan
Manhattan's only remaining hospital south of 14th Street, New York Downtown, has found a white knight willing to take over its debt and return it to good health, hospital officials said Monday (Hartocollis, 1/28).

The Associated Press: State Leaders Pay Less Than Workers For Insurance
Gov. Rick Scott and state legislators will soon decide whether Florida should extend health insurance coverage to nearly 1 million residents, and those officials all get their plans from the state, many paying less than state workers. Scott, as well as the three other Republican members of the Cabinet, and nearly all state lawmakers are enrolled in Florida's health insurance plan (Fineout, 1/28).

Kansas City Star: Health Care Law Means Free Clinics Have To Accept Payment
Free health clinics around the Kansas City area, like many across the country, are shedding their "free" designation and preparing to accept payment from most patients as they adapt to the federal health care law. The shift will be a big one, especially for the bustling Kansas City Free Health Clinic in midtown. It's one of the largest free clinics in the country, treating upward of 15,000 patients a year with more than 100 staff members and 1,000 volunteers. In its 42 years, "KC Free," as it's commonly called, hasn't charged fees or billed patients for care. And it has seen only the uninsured. Soon, all that will change (Gordon, 1/28).

Stateline: As Legislatures Become More Partisan, Nebraska Holds Out
If Brad Ashford were a state senator almost anywhere, the step he took in the waning days of 2011 might have foreclosed any hope for future legislative accomplishments. Saying the Republican Party here was no longer the place for moderates, Ashford announced he was becoming an Independent -- in a legislature that was heavily Republican. … Earlier this month, Ashford was reelected the chairman of the Judiciary Committee. No one even opposed him. … But the same traditions that have produced bipartisan comity within the legislature are a source of partisan frustration outside of it. The state Republican Party's official platform calls for making the legislature partisan and, from what’s transpired in Nebraska over the last year, it’s easy to see why. The legislature has thwarted the plans of Dave Heineman, the state’s popular conservative Republican governor, and has even overridden some of his vetoes on prominent legislation. Now, the relationship between the Heineman and the legislature is about to be tested again. This month, Heineman proposed making Nebraska the first state in more than 30 years to abolish its income tax. Heineman also is an opponent of the Medicaid expansion under the federal health care law, but some key Republican legislators favor expanding anyway (Goodman, 1/29).

HealthyCal: Special Needs Children Struggle To Obtain Quality Health Care
California children with special needs often receive less-than-adequate health care services, regardless of whether they are covered by private or public health insurance, a new analysis has found. California was among the bottom six states in offering coordinated and family-oriented care to some of the state’s most vulnerable populations (Ramirez, 1/29).

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