KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Highlights: Blue Shield Of Calif. Rate Hike Called ‘Excessive’; Fla. Medicaid Contract Problems

A selection of health policy stories from California, Florida and Minnesota.

Los Angeles Times: Blue Shield Of California Rate Hike Is Excessive, Regulator Says
California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones criticized Blue Shield of California for an "unreasonable" rate hike affecting about 81,000 individual policyholders. ... But he and other state officials don't have the authority to reject changes in premiums. Jones said the latest rate hike amounted to an average increase of 32 percent over a two-year period (Terhune, 1/7).

Los Angeles Times: Blue Shield Of California To Buy Gem Care Health Plan In Bakersfiled
Blue Shield of California said it has agreed to acquire GemCare Health Plan, expanding its presence in Kern County and the Central Coast area. Blue Shield, one of the state's largest health insurers, said Tuesday that GemCare customers should see minimal changes at first (Terhune, 1/7).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Survey Finds Wealthier Patients In California More Satisfied With Their Health Care
Money may not buy happiness, but patients with more money to spend tend to be happier with their health care providers, a statewide survey sponsored by the Blue Shield of California Foundation found (Hernandez, 1/8).

Health News Florida: Medicaid Contract In Turmoil
Miami-Dade County, the juiciest plum in Florida Medicaid's switch to mandatory managed care, could still be in play following a ruling against the Agency for Health Care Administration in its contracting decisions. Hundreds of millions of dollars could ride on the outcome (Gentry, 1/7).

The Star Tribune: A Medical-Testing Lesson From Minnesota: Less Can Be More
A novel strategy that has saved Minnesota millions of dollars in unnecessary medical-imaging scans -- and probably prevented dozens of patient deaths -- might soon go national. ... Minnesota's "decision support" strategy, enacted in 2006, created a single set of standards for doctors to follow in deciding when patients need the costly scans. It also created a green-yellow-red coding system to show patients when scans were recommended and when they weren't (Olson, 1/7).

California Healthline: Returning Health Bills On Capitol Agenda
As attention turns to legislative issues, lawmakers will have some familiar ground to cover with 104 bills carrying over on the Assembly side and 108 bills in the Senate, including many health care issues in both chambers. The health care issues that may be in play this session include: ... AB 880 by Assembly member Jimmy Gomez (D-Los Angeles) was put on the inactive file, and can be returned. It would require large employers to pay a share of health care costs when employees go onto Medi-Cal coverage. It was prompted, in part, by Walmart's decision to eliminate health benefits for those working less than 24 hours a week (Gorn, 1/7).

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