KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Budget And Cost Issues Continue To Plague States

The (San Luis Obispo) Tribune News: In California, local programs will be hit hard under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposed cuts to plug a $20 billion budget gap. "In-Home Supportive Services would be cut entirely. Medi-Cal would be limited and participants would be called upon to share more of the costs" (Cornejo and Connell, 1/12).

The Arizona Daily Star: Gov. Jan Brewer is proposing to cut state-paid health care for hundreds of thousands to balance the state budget. "In her State of the State speech Monday, Brewer said a 2000 voter mandate to provide free care to anyone below the federal poverty level has proved far more costly than originally thought. … She attributed a $1 billion increase in state spending to the expanded eligibility, even though the entire state obligation is less than $1.2 billion. Brewer's office did not respond to requests for clarification" (Fischer, 1/12). 

The Hartford Courant: In Connecticut, insurance regulators have given three of the top five insurers in that state approval to raise rates by double-digit percentages for 2010. "A state legislator says regulators aren't doing their job, but both the Connecticut Insurance Department and health insurance companies say that premiums are only keeping pace with medical costs. … The report shows that Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Health Net of Connecticut and ConnectiCare asked for group plan rate increases of 15.78 percent, 19.09 percent and 14.5 percent, respectively, for 2010." The latter two were awarded their proposed rate increases while Anthem was approved for 12.88 percent (Sturdevant, 1/12).

The Boston Herald: Partners HealthCare in Massachusetts says it could be "forced to cut staff and trim services if the government doesn't increase the amount it reimburses hospitals for the care they provide." The statement by Partners executive David McGuire came at a hearing held by the state insurance regulators on the issue of rising premiums for small businesses.

The Boston Globe: "McGuire, Partners vice president for system contracting, told Division of Insurance officials that rising insurance costs are a national phenomenon, not solely a state problem caused by higher reimbursement rates paid by insurers to Partners hospitals. Instead, he cited inadequate rates paid by Medicare and Medicaid, the government insurance programs, which increase costs for everyone else" (Kowalczyk, 1/12).

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