KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Wisconsin Rural Hospitals Hope For Federal Money To Offset State Medicaid Cut

Wisconsin State Journal: "Wisconsin's rural hospitals hope to offset a state Medicaid cut with a tax that would bring more federal money to the hospitals. The proposed tax on the state's 59 'critical access' hospitals, all in rural areas, would prevent the hospitals from closing important services, officials say. The tax would be similar to a tax adopted in February on the state's 72 non-rural hospitals, said Eric Borgerding, a lobbyist with the Wisconsin Hospital Association. The proposed rural hospital tax, in a bill to be introduced in the Legislature soon, would make up for a 10 percent Medicaid cut that started Friday, Borgerding said. The cut, of $15 million over two years, is part of $625 million in planned reductions over that period to the recession-strained, $6 billion-a-year Medicaid program, the state-federal health plan for the poor. The tax, of about 1.6 percent of patient revenues, would bring about $10 million a year in additional federal Medicaid matching funds to the rural hospitals, Borgerding said" (Walhberg, 1/4). 

The (Springfield, Mass.) Republican reports: "Smoking has dropped 13 percent among lower-income smokers in Springfield during the first 2½ years of a new state benefit to reduce tobacco use, according to an analysis by the state Department of Public Health. Under the benefit, people enrolled in the state's Medicaid health insurance program get virtually free counseling and medications to help them quit cigarettes. Medicaid recipients in Massachusetts have been eligible for anti-smoking coverage since July 2006. Statewide smoking rates among Medicaid recipients in the study fell by 26 percent" (Ring, 1/4).

The (Philadelphia) Intelligencer, on the rising number of uninsured: "More Americans have lost health care coverage, either temporarily or long-term, including those living in mostly middle-class suburbs. ... Of the average 90 new patients a month that clinic nurse practitioner and manager Cathy Giorgio sees, more are new college graduates and former white collar professionals seeking care in the Bensalem clinic that treats poor and uninsured Bucks County residents. ... From January to June 2009, 45.4 million U.S. residents (15 percent of the population) were uninsured, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey released in December. Fifty-eight million people had been uninsured for at least part of the prior year, and 31.9 million had been uninsured for more than a year. ... Pennsylvania ranks behind Michigan in the loss of employer-sponsored health care over the last decade" (Ciavaglia, 1/5). 

The Denver Post, on efforts to improve preventative health care: "A new state law makes some forms of preventative health care more affordable to people who are insured in Colorado. The law, which took effect Friday, assures that services such as screenings for breast and cervical cancer, cholesterol levels and colorectal cancer; childhood immunizations and flu vaccines; and programs to help manage alcohol misuse and quit smoking are available at low cost to clients, even when the insured have not met their deductibles" (O'Connor, 1/5).

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