KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

States Extend, Create New Programs For Vulnerable; In Texas, Home Health A Problem

New outlets report on a variety of health stories at the state level including a new program that provides prescription drug help and routine medical care to low-income people in Iowa, an assurance that poor children will be able to keep their insurance in California and recognition that home health agencies waste Medicare dollars in Texas.

Associated Press/Chicago Tribune: A new $420,000 prescription drug program will help low-income Iowans and "be funded by the state's share of a settlement of a lawsuit against the pharmaceutical industry." The lawsuit against Caremark Rx and EIS concerned those companies encouraging doctors to switch medications (Glover, 9/22).

San Francisco Chronicle: "Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill Tuesday that will prevent nearly 700,000 poor children from losing health insurance, reversing his earlier threat to veto all legislation unless state lawmakers first addressed his top priorities." The governor had threatened to veto all legislation until state lawmakers dealt with water, prisons and energy issues, but said the health bill was too important not to sign (Yi, 9/23).

Associated Press/Philadelphia Inquirer: "Newark has enrolled 400 uninsured and underinsured residents in a pilot program that enables them to obtain routine medical care from family doctors. The goal is to prevent people with chronic illnesses from seeking more costly treatment at hospital emergency rooms as a last resort" (Epstein, 9/22).

The Dallas Morning News: Two home health care agencies in the Dallas area, both owned by the same person, received $6.5 million from Medicare between 2004 and 2008. According to a federal investigation, "much of the care was never given." Texas has the most home health agencies that bill Medicare of any state, but ranks near the bottom in home health quality. The industry may contribute to wasteful spending in the state (Jones, 9/23).

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