KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State News: Ariz. May Cut Fewer From Medicaid; Pa. AdultBasic Closes

The Arizona Republic: Brewer Aims To Cut Fewer People From Medicaid
In a meeting with the Obama administration Monday, Gov. Jan Brewer proposed some Medicaid changes that she hopes will allow Arizona to drop fewer people than previously proposed from the state's Medicaid rolls. Brewer's office already has received permission to cut coverage for 250,000 members, mostly childless adults, as the state tries to close an ongoing budget shortfall. "We're hoping to avoid such a drastic cut," she said. "We'd still have to cut but not by as much." ... It is the first time the Republican governor has indicated that she would be open to working with the Democratic administration (Kelly and Rough, 3/1). 

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Now For The Deep Cuts
Gov. Scott Walker will reveal on Tuesday the full cuts in state programs such as health care for the poor and aid to local governments needed to balance the state's more than $3 billion budget deficit over the next two years. At the same time, the state will hit a deadline for doing a refinancing deal that the Republican governor said is key to solving a more immediate budget problem and preventing the layoffs of up to 1,500 state workers (Walker and Stein, 2/28). 

The Associated Press: NY Dems Rebel Against Cuomo, Cuts
More than 40 elected Democrats across New York are making a rare attack on Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his proposed cuts to the party's priorities of education and health care (Gormley, 2/28).

Health News Florida: State Workers Unaware Of Health-Benefit Cuts
Gov. Rick Scott has proposed a deep cut in state workers' health benefits -- $7,000 a year for the most popular family plan -- but most state workers seem unaware of it. Health News Florida discovered that while trying to gather opinions about the proposal. ... On Feb. 7, Scott proposed that the state cap its contribution to employee health insurance at $5,000, whether the worker needs coverage for one person or a family of 10. ... The proposed cap would not take effect until 2013, is aimed at holding down the state's future health-care costs (Davis, 2/28).

Georgia Health News: Bill Would Alter Appeals Process On Kids' Care
A House bill would help Georgia families who appeal the state's denials of Medicaid services for medically fragile or disabled children, proponents say. Currently, when Medicaid denies a treatment for a child, a family can appeal to the Office of State Administrative Hearings. If the administrative law judge rules in the family's favor, the state's Medicaid agency can reverse the judge's decision. House Bill 229 would make the judge's ruling final. ... The Department of Community Health opposes the legislation, seeking to retain the right to review a judge's ruling. Medicaid, the health program jointly financed by the state and federal governments, covers about 1.4 million poor and disabled Georgians, most of them children (Miller, 2/28).

The Texas Tribune: Will Smoking Cuts Add to Health Care Costs?
Finding ways to cut health care costs is all the rage under the Pink Dome - and curbing smoking is a proven way to do it. But both the House and Senate budget proposals slash tobacco cessation programs by more than 80 percent, or $20 million over the biennium. Health care advocates say such cuts would devastate programs that deter children from smoking and eliminate regional efforts that have curbed tobacco use among adults. ... The move to use smoking cessation funds to help balance the budget comes as several lawmakers work to ban smoking in most public places (Ramshaw, 3/1).

The Philadelphia Inquirer: Pa.'s AdultBasic Health Insurance Runs Out Of Funds, Shuts Down
Tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians woke up without health coverage Tuesday morning, as the state's subsidized insurance program for working people ran out of money and moves to save it failed to gain traction. … AdultBasic, as the state program is known, ended with about 40,764 subscribers - and a waiting list that has mushroomed during the economic downturn and totaled 505,624 in February. While coverage was basic, the premiums were an unusually low $36 a month (Sapatkin, 3/1).

Related, earlier KHN story: Pa. Closing State Health Plan For Low-Income Adults (Gold, 2/23)

The New York Times: Bronx-Lebanon Obstetricians Face Malpractice Insurance Cutoff
A malpractice insurance group has warned obstetricians at a South Bronx hospital that it is considering cutting off their insurance, which could force surrounding hospitals to absorb hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of baby deliveries a year. ... Bronx-Lebanon delivers more than 2,700 babies a year, many to poor women whose pregnancies are risky because they are teenagers or have diabetes, high blood pressure or other medical problems, hospital officials said (Hartocollis, 2/28).

Los Angeles Times: Inspectors Find Hazards At UCI Dialysis Center
Regulators found blood-spotted chairs and walls, nurses who failed to change gloves or wash their hands and equipment that was rusted or held together by tape in a surprise November inspection of UC Irvine's dialysis center according to letters and reports obtained by The Times on Monday. The findings, federal regulators have warned, could jeopardize Medicare funding for the facility that serves about 120 patients (Hennessy-Fiske, 2/28).

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