KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Calif. Budget Comes In The Nick Of Time For Health Centers; La. Gov. Announces Cuts In Health Care Funding

American Medical News: "With some California community health centers just weeks or days away from laying off staff or reducing their hours, the state adopted its latest-ever annual budget on Oct. 8. The 100-day overdue budget allowed the state to restart Medicaid pay to hundreds of community health centers that had not been reimbursed for several weeks. Physicians who saw Medicaid patients continued to receive payments while the fiscal 2011 budget was in limbo because federal law requires states to reimburse 90% of valid physician and hospital Medicaid claims within 30 days of receiving them, even if a budget isn't in place. Health centers, however, don't have that protection, and the state cut off their funding when the fiscal 2010 budget ended on June 30" (Trapp, 10/25).

The Houston Chronicle: "The statistics tell the tale of Gov. Rick Perry's decade as governor. Perry has kept state spending and taxation in check. The economy has grown, and Texans are getting better-paying jobs. But the poor have suffered. … One out of five Texans lacked health insurance when Perry took office; one out of four does now -- Texas ranks dead last in the percentage of its citizens who have health coverage. The percentage of low-birth-weight babies, an indicator of proper prenatal care, has grown during Perry's tenure. The birthrate to teenage mothers is almost unchanged. The percentage of Texans living in poverty has grown, as has the percentage receiving nutrition assistance. Perry said he improved health care in Texas by making more physicians available through tort reform and by promoting programs to give small employers incentives to provide health care to workers. Perry also noted that he led the charge on creating a new cancer research fund" (Ratcliffe and Fikac, 10/25).

The Associated Press/Bloomberg Businessweek: "Gov. Bobby Jindal said higher education, health care and social services will take the largest cuts Friday when he orders reductions to rebalance the budget and close a $107 million deficit. … The state Department of Health and Hospitals must cut $21 million to help eliminate the deficit -- and another $50 million to account for a separate shortfall in the state Medicaid program. A $12 million cut will hit the social services department. … The state's Medicaid program also has a separate current-year shortfall because more people are using the health services than expected. Jindal said his executive order will require cuts in that program to address that shortfall" (Deslatte, 10/22).

The Seattle Times: "A computer interface error will delay Medicaid payments to Washington health-care providers for several days next week, officials said. The delay is the first since the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) installed ProviderOne, a $166 million claim-processing system, on May 9. Friday's error was not related to ProviderOne's ability to process Medicaid claims, said Jim Stevenson, a DSHS spokesman. Rather, it was a breakdown of communications between ProviderOne and a computer system that cuts the checks for health-care providers" (Walsh, 10/22).

The Associated Press/(Oregon) Statesman-Journal: "The Oregon Educators Benefit Board was created three years ago so school districts could pool resources and rein in health-insurance costs. But Jackson County officials say the mandatory insurance pool has limited choice and has not lowered costs. … The idea behind OEBB was to increase school district's negotiating power for lower premiums and save on administrative costs. Yet OEBB premiums climbed between 10.3 percent and 22.9 percent between 2008-09 and 2009-10, the Mail Tribune newspaper reported. They rose between 8.3 percent and 28.6 percent this year, depending on the plan" (10/25).

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