KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Roundup: Settlements For Mental Health Facilities Lawsuits; Minn., Oregon Insurers Face Scrutiny

The Washington Post: Prince George's County Survey Intended To Gauge State Of Health Care
But the survey underway in Prince George’s County is intended to address a complex problem. Officials expect the data to give them a detailed look at the state of health and health care in the county, where conditions such as diabetes and heart disease are much more common than in the rest of the region and most of the state (Spivak, 2/15).

The Washington Post: A Mother Writes About Her Concerns To Judge Dealing With D.C. Mental Health Care Suit
On Thursday, U.S District Judge Thomas F. Hogan is expected to approve a settlement in a case that has outlasted the terms of five D.C. mayors and is now known as Dixon v. Gray. ... The widely anticipated settlement marks a major milestone for the city, ending court oversight of a mental health system that has made vast improvements, but that all sides agree has room for more. ... When the suit was launched in 1974, lead plaintiff William Dixon and other patients at St. Elizabeths Hospital sought less restrictive treatment options [at] the problem-ridden psychiatric institution (Vargas, 2/15).

Boston Globe: Deal Reached On Treatment Of State's Mentally Ill Inmates
Years after a series of suicides in state prison segregation units, the state Department of Correction has reached a landmark agreement with advocate groups to better care for prisoners with severe mental illnesses. The agreement, still under seal ... calls for the Department of Correction to maintain two recently created units at high-level security prisons as alternatives to disciplinary segregation for prisoners with mental illness (Valencia, 2/16).

Tampa Bay Times: Senate Plan Includes Big Cuts To Mental Health Programs
Programs that serve mentally ill patients or addicts could see their state funding zeroed out this year under a Senate budget proposal. The proposal would slash overall state spending on adult mental health and substance abuse treatment by about 40 percent, or $87 million. .... [Sen. Joe Negron, the Republican in charge of the Senate's health care budget] said he would rather make these cuts than reduce spending on programs for the disabled, the elderly and children (Mitchell, 2/15).

New Orleans Times-Picayune: New Orleans' Frayed Mental Health Safety Net Could Collapse, Officials Warn
Frustration and anger boiled over Wednesday as members of New Orleans' political, criminal justice and medical communities pondered the dire consequences of pending cuts to state-financed mental health services for the poor and uninsured. ... With an estimated 27,000 people in the metropolitan area grappling with serious mental illnesses like schizophrenia, speaker after speaker said the region should be in line for increased funding for services, not cuts (Donze, 2/15).

Chicago Tribune: Deadly Fight Prompts Questions About Nursing Home
An Oak Park nursing home failed to report to the state health department a deadly altercation between anAlzheimer's patient and another resident, authorities said Wednesday. Anibal Calderon, 80, died of head injuries early Tuesday after an alleged fight that took place Sunday at Oak Park Healthcare Center, authorities said (Doyle and Meyer, 2/15).

Des Moines Register: Senators: Program Could Dump HIV Patients
A state program responsible for insuring Iowans with pre-existing health problems is taking actions that at least two lawmakers say will lead to the disenrollment of 13 to 15 HIV-positive patients. The key administrator of the program denies the allegations (Clayworth, 2/16).

Minnesota Public Radio: Legislative Auditor To Review HMO Process For Setting Rates
Minnesota's legislative auditor says he will seek a new review of the rate-setting process for HMOs providing services to Medicaid patients. The move comes a day after the human services commissioner told lawmakers that federal authorities are investigating the state's Medicaid program (Stawicki, 2/15). 

The Lund Report: Providence Asks for 5.4 Percent Rate Hike for Small Businesses
Providence Health Plans is seeking a 5.4 percent average rate increase for small businesses, which would affect 2,645 employers who have 30,869 employees. If approved, the increase would take effect August 1 (Lund-Muzikant, 2/15). 

California Healthline: Can Health Equity Be a Moneymaker?
Californians from different cultures, who speak languages other than English or who live in remote areas ... often have have a high percentage of chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure. In an era when more of these people have coverage with the expansion of Medi-Cal, and when health organizations are paid based on efficiency of care, those people may be the ticket to better overall treatment numbers (Gorn, 2/16).

Los Angeles Times: UCLA School Of Public Health Gets $50-Million Gift
Jonathan Fielding works 70-hour weeks in a relatively obscure and overwhelming job: He is Los Angeles County's top public health doctor. Friends and colleagues have long praised his professional contributions to the field. But to their surprise, Fielding and his wife are now making another huge contribution: $50 million to the UCLA School of Public Health (Gorman, 2/16).

Arizona Republic: Arizona Supreme Court Lets AHCCCS Cuts Stand
The Arizona Supreme Court on Wednesday declined to review an appeal challenging cuts to the state's Medicaid program, letting stand an enrollment freeze that has locked thousands of poor residents out of government-paid health insurance. An estimated 100,000 childless adults will lose Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System coverage this fiscal year. The state has turned away an untold number since a lower-court judge allowed the cap to take effect in July. The high court's decision effectively ends the case, which centers on a 2000 voter- approved measure that expanded the AHCCCS population (Reinhart, 2/15).

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