KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Watch: R.I. Group Experiments With Payment Reform; Ariz. Dispute Over Abortion; Vt. And Feds To End Monitoring Of Caregivers

The Providence (R.I.) Journal: "The Lifespan hospital group and Blue Cross have reached an agreement intended to gradually overturn the way hospital care is financed, with the goal of promoting health, rather than episodes of treatment. The agreement is the first to meet unique-in-the-nation rules from state Health Insurance Commissioner Christopher F. Koller, who has identified hospital costs as the main reason for increases in health-insurance premiums. … Rather than paying for each procedure or each day in the hospital, Blue Cross will provide a flat fee to cover all care for a given condition. That way, the hospital doesn't make more money if it does more tests and procedures or keeps the patient longer." A small Medicare program does the same in other hospitals around the nation (Freyer, 10/29).

The New York Times reveals the internal fight, via e-mail, over a New York City Health Department advertisement that backed taxing sodas. "The dispute, reflected in unusually candid internal e-mails, reveals a health commissioner with a high tolerance for dissent, yet committed to fighting obesity, a passion shared by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. The soda tax proposal was eventually dropped from the state budget, but the mayor escalated his antisoda campaign this month by requesting permission from the federal government to bar city residents from using food stamps to buy sodas and other sugar-sweetened beverages" (Hartocollis, 10/28).

The Boston Globe: "Members of the Massachusetts Nurses Association at four Caritas Christi Health Care hospitals, including St. Elizabeth's Medical Center in Brighton and Carney Hospital in Dorchester, yesterday ratified a five-year contract that gives nearly 1,700 registered nurses pay raises and a new retirement plan" (Weisman, 10/29).

The Burlington (Vt.) Free Press: "The U.S. Department of Justice and state officials have jointly filed a motion in U.S. District Court in Burlington to bring to an end four years of federal monitoring of the treatment and safety of psychiatric patients at the Vermont State Hospital in Waterbury. … Two federal monitors who have visited the hospital twice a year since 2006 filed a 142-page report with the Department of Justice that concluded the 54-bed psychiatric hospital had achieved compliance in all areas identified as problems in a 2005 investigation" (Remsen, 10/28).

Modern Healthcare: "Christ Hospital in Cincinnati has reached an agreement with HHS' inspector general's office that ends the possibility that the government might exclude the hospital from Medicare and Medicaid. The matter stems from a False Claims Act lawsuit that the 513-bed hospital settled in May with a $108 million payment" (Blesch, 10/28).

The Associated Press/The Helena (Mont.) Independent Record: "Planned Parenthood of Montana has sued the state for denying teen girls access to birth control through Montana's low-income health insurance program. Montana Public Radio reported that teens insured through CHIP, part of Healthy Montana Kids, cannot obtain birth control if it's being used only to prevent pregnancy, though they can get birth control to treat acne or heavy menstrual cycles." About 25,000 kids are insured through the program, 10 percent of them are girls ages 15-19 (10/29).

Capitol Media Services/East Valley (Ariz.) Tribune: "A judge refused late Wednesday to block the state from enforcing new regulations this coming week that an attorney for the state's largest abortion provider said will impair the ability of women to terminate their pregnancy. Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Donald Daughton said Planned Parenthood Arizona waited too long before asking him to bar the Department of Health Services from enforcing a new rule to prohibit anyone other than a doctor from performing various medical procedures before or after an abortion. He pointed out the state approved the new rules at the end of April" (Fischer, 10/27).

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