KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Roundup: Medicaid Cuts And Waivers; Mental Health Care; Mass. Immigrant Care; Minn. Medical Errors

The Dallas Morning News: With Medicaid Cuts, Everyone Could Pay More For Health Care
Local hospitals facing a possible 10 percent cut in Medicaid fees plan to pressure commercial health insurers for better rates, which could drive up costs for everyone. Texas House Republicans unveiled a budget this week that takes aim at Medicaid, the state's second-largest program, behind public education (Roberson, 1/19). 

Health News Florida: Will Feds Thwart FL GOP On Medicaid?
With Rick Scott in the governor's office and new legislative leaders vowing to overhaul Medicaid, a statewide managed-care program has looked like a sure thing. But the federal government might have other ideas. Federal and state Medicaid officials are in talks about the future of a controversial pilot program, which started in 2006 and requires most beneficiaries in five counties to enroll in managed-care plans (Saunders, 1/20).

The Boston Globe: Mass. Slated To Receive Over $150 Million In Additional Medicaid Funding
Massachusetts, under a deal finalized today with the federal government, is slated to receive upwards of $150 million in additional Medicaid funding that will help shore up hospitals that treat many of the state's low-income patients ... Senator John F. Kerry helped lobby the Obama administration for the additional funding (Slack, 1/19).

The Arizona Republic: Legislative Committees Approve Health-Coverage Bill
Acting on party lines, the Legislature's budget committees approved a bill Wednesday that would be the first step in Arizona's efforts to shed health coverage for 280,000 individuals. The approval sets the stage for a vote today on whether to grant Gov. Jan Brewer authority to seek a waiver from the federal government to drop the coverage. Republicans said the move is needed to tame the state's budget deficits. And, they noted, the state provides a more-generous level of Medicaid coverage than 43 other states, so a waiver would put Arizona on the same footing as the rest of the country (Pitzl and Reinhart, 1/20).

Los Angeles Times: Mental Health In Arizona: A Case Study
Throughout her political career, [Arizona Gov. Jan] Brewer had championed mental health services ... Yet, in 2010, Brewer agreed to cut in half state funding for the Department of Health Services, reducing services to about 14,000 mentally ill Arizonans. Brewer's reluctant acquiescence to the cuts reflects not only the state's dire budget crisis - it must fill a $1.2-billion budget chasm this year - but the tough battle mental health advocates face in securing funding for such services. Across the country, mental health advocates say, cash-strapped legislatures have been chopping services for the anxious, depressed and schizophrenic (Santa Cruz and Powers, 1/19).

Des Moines Register: Mental Health Institutes Won't Be Cut, DHS Says
DHS chief Chuck Palmer told members of a joint House and Senate committee that oversees health care spending that most residents of the mental health institutes have already exhausted options at other, less restrictive facilities. "These are people who are extremely vulnerable, with high needs," he said (Leys, 1/20). 

KQED: Napa State Hospital Workers Rally for Safer Working Conditions
The workers at the state mental health facility are asking for safer working conditions after one nurse was murdered last year and a rehabilitation therapist was badly beaten. Speakers called for a number of improvements, including an increased police presence. ... Others expressed concern about the uptick in patients being transferred directly from the criminal justice system (Dornhelm, 1/19).

WBUR: Extra Revenue To Save Immigrant Health Care Plan - For Now
Tax revenues are coming in about $755 million higher than expected this year. ... So the Patrick administration will use some of that "found" revenue to cover health care costs, including unfunded coverage for legal immigrants (Zimmerman, 1/19).

California Healthline: Hope Raised by Patient-Centered Medical Home
[Robert] Reid of Seattle's Group Health Research Institute has seen the patient-centered medical home in action, and that's what he was preaching to medical leaders in Sacramento yesterday."At Group Health, we found it was possible to improve outcomes, lessen physician burnout and reduce costs," Reid said. "That's a triple whammy! You never see that" (Gorn, 1/19).

Minnesota Public Radio: Preventable Health Care Mistakes Flat In Minn.
Hospitals and surgical centers reported 305 so-called adverse events in 2010. That's 4 more than the previous year. The errors ranged from preventable bedsores and falls, to forgetting to remove every sponge used during surgery. Ten of these mistakes resulted in patient death, and 97 resulted in serious injury (Benson, 1/20).

Star Tribune: Medication Errors Rise Sharply At Minnesota Hospitals
Serious medication errors rose sharply in Minnesota hospitals last year, even though many hospital pharmacies have converted to sophisticated new electronic dispensing systems. Minnesota's annual report on adverse events -- a public accounting of preventable errors by hospitals -- shows 13 serious medication errors in the year ended last Oct. 6. By comparison, only 14 medication errors were reported in the previous three years combined (Olson, 1/19).

ProPublica: Dollars for Docs Sparks Policy Rewrite at Colorado Teaching Hospitals
The University of Colorado Denver and its affiliated teaching hospitals have launched an overhaul of conflict of interest policies ... Dr. Richard Krugman, vice chancellor for health affairs, said he hoped members would soon consider a policy to clearly ban faculty from delivering talks for drug companies. Without such a clear rule, he said, the school faces a loss of public trust, damage to its reputation and the specter of it physicians parroting industry-designed materials (Weber and Ornstein, 1/19). 

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