KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Highlights: Vt. Health Care Costs Plan; Iowa Inmate Coverage; Mich. Abortion Law Takes Effect

A selection of health policy stories from Vermont, Iowa, Michigan, California, Florida, Wisconsin and North Carolina.

The Associated Press: Vermont Has New Plan To Slow Health Care Costs
More than 2,500 health care providers that serve Vermonters could be working together to help control costs by focusing on keeping people healthy rather than being paid to treat patients when they are sick, Gov. Peter Shumlin and other top officials said Wednesday. The two new "shared savings programs" offered through health insurance plans offered by Vermont Health Connect and the state's Medicaid program are designed to move away from the traditional fee-for-service model of health care to encourage providers to work together, keep people healthier and as a result reduce the growth of health care costs (Ring, 3/12).

Des Moines Register: Iowa Plans To Grant Health Insurance To Inmates As They Leave Prison
Iowa inmates should soon have health-insurance cards when they leave prison. Officials from the state corrections and human-services departments are setting up a method to enroll inmates in a public health-insurance program shortly before they’re released (Leys, 3/12).

MLive: New Michigan Laws Governing Abortion Insurance, Medicaid And BYOB Wine Take Effect This Week
Beginning Friday, insurance companies can no longer include abortion as a standard feature in health plans sold in Michigan. The new law, initiated through a petition drive by Right to Life, allows insurers to sell a policy "rider" to cover abortion. Seven insurers plan to sell the add-on coverage alongside small- and large-group employer plans, but no companies plan to offer a rider for individual policies. While the law takes effect this week, it will not affect current policies. The real change will be felt when women seek to renew their plans or complete an open enrollment period with their employer (Oosting, 3/13).

Los Angeles Times: Health Clinic Operator To Raise Workers’ Pay To $15 An Hour
A nonprofit that operates 10 health centers downtown, in South Los Angeles and in Compton will increase its employees' pay to a minimum of $15 an hour in what it deemed an anti-poverty measure intended to jump-start "living wage" efforts around the region. The wage hike by St. John's Well Child and Family Center, to be announced Thursday, will increase the pay of 137 workers, many of whom now make $11 to $12 an hour (Rainey, 3/12).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Injured Who Lived Near Closed Trauma Centers More Likely To Die
Injured patients who had to travel an average 13 minutes longer to reach a hospital trauma center because a facility nearer to home had closed were more likely to die of their injuries in the hospital, according to a new California study (Rabin, 3/13). 

Miami Herald: Proposal Would Limit Medicare Coverage For Some Florida Drug Testing 
Attorney General Pam Bondi is fighting a plan that would limit Medicare coverage for some drug testing in Florida and could allow accidental deadly drug combinations. The proposal, by the Jacksonville-based Medicare contractor First Coast Service Options, would restrict reimbursement for confirmatory tests, which are used to check the accuracy of drug screenings (McGrory, 3/12).

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Brett Davis Is Leaving The Walker Administration As Medicaid Director
Brett Davis, a former state lawmaker who implemented key parts of Gov. Scott Walker's response to Obamacare, is leaving the administration to take a job in the private sector. Davis has been Walker's Medicaid director since he took office in 2011 but will leave his post on March 21, according to state Health Services Department spokeswoman Stephanie Smiley. A replacement has not yet been named (Marley, 3/12).

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Scott Fitzgerald Uses Maneuver To Prevent Cancer Drug Vote
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald employed an unusual gambit Wednesday to keep his house from passing -- at least for now -- a bill to help cancer patients afford chemotherapy drugs. The action by the Committee on Organization chaired by the Juneau Republican blocked supporters Wednesday from forcing a Senate vote on the bill, which would require insurance plans overseen by the state to provide coverage for expensive forms of chemotherapy drugs that patients take as pills rather than as infusions and injections. Fitzgerald blocked the vote by scheduling -- and then canceling -- the second committee hearing in the last month on a bill that already had its usual public hearing last year (Stein and Boulton, 3/13). 

WRAL: [North Carolina] Scrambling On Medicaid Rules
State Department of Health and Human Services officials are asking federal Medicaid officials for a waiver due to continuing issues with NC FAST, the state's new benefits management program. Under the Affordable Care Act, all states were required to recertify all Medicaid recipients and applicants under new income guidelines as of Jan. 1. North Carolina already received one three-month extension, making the state's new deadline April 1 (Leslie, 3/12).

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