KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Roundup: N.Y. Autism Coverage; Wis. MLR Controversy

State stories today come from Wisconsin, Vermont, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Mississippi, Colorado and Florida.

The New York Times: To Survive, Medical Companies In New Jersey Are Building New Hospitals
The dazzling new hospital that will open here [in Hopewell] on Sunday looks more like a five-star resort than a medical center. It may also be the best hope for survival of its corporate parent, Capital Health, a nonprofit company that operates three health care facilities in New Jersey (Kaysen, 11/1).

The Associated Press/Long Island Press: Austism Coverage Grows
New York soon will require insurers to cover screening, diagnosis and treatment for autism spectrum disorders, which will increase premiums for all individuals and businesses. ... That should bolster early and effective treatment and save families as much as $50,000 a year in out-of-pocket cost for 30,000 autistic New York children. The state Health Plan Association estimates the bill, signed into law Tuesday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, will cost an average family "hundreds of dollars" and employers tens of thousands of dollars (Gormley, 11/2).

Related, earlier KHN story: Parents Fear Health Law Could Derail Autism Coverage (Galewitz, 9/24).

Denver Post: Hickenlooper Proposes Budget: Conflict Likely With GOP Over Senior Tax Break
[Gov.] Hickenlooper’s proposed budget actually would increase total spending for health care programs by 6.8 percent, or $346.2 million, of which $185.6 million would come from the state’s general fund. Sobanet said the state’s poor economy continues to push enrollment in Medicaid to record highs (Hoover, 11/1).

California Healthline: Advocates, Health Plans, State Eyeing ADHC Hearing
The lawsuit name has changed a couple of times. It first was filed in August 2009 under the name of plaintiff Lillie Brantley. Then it was Harry Cota. Now it's Esther Darling. The fact that Brantley and Cota died during the lawsuit's two-year life underscores the fragility of the adult day health care population. The 2009 lawsuit originally challenged ADHC cutbacks. The suit's scope grew earlier this year when the state decided to eliminate ADHC as a Medi-Cal benefit altogether (Gorn, 11/1).

San Francisco Chronicle: New Plan To Close Health Care Loophole 
Employers now contribute up to $4,252 a year to a health care reimbursement account for every uninsured worker. However, any money that goes unused by the end of the year can revert back to the employer. Last year, 860 employers covered by the program pumped a collective $62.5 million into the accounts and were able to recover all but $12.4 million. Under the new proposal ... individual workers would be able to accrue up to two years of unused funding in their health care reimbursement accounts (Gordon, 11/1).

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Health Insurer Rebate Exemptions Would Cost Consumers
The request by the state's insurance commissioner to exempt health insurers from having to spend 80% of premiums on medical care could cost consumers an estimated $14 million over three years.That works out to a savings of 1% or less of what consumers who buy their own insurance would spend in that time period. Insurance Commissioner Ted Nickel last week asked the federal government to exempt health insurers who sold insurance to individuals and families from the new federal regulation, contending that it could force companies to exit the market (Boulton, 11/1).

The Associated Press: Report: Universal Health Care System In Vermont Could Cost As Much As $9.5 Billion A Year By 2020
New projections by the state of Vermont say a public, universal health care system would cost between $8.2 billion and $9.5 billion a year — roughly $13,000 to $14,000 per resident — by 2020, but that sticking with the current system based on private insurers would cost even more (Gram, 11/1).

Related, earlier KHN story: Vermont Edges Toward Single Payer Health Care (Marcy, 10/2).

The Associated Press/WBUR: Dozens Of Mass. Doctors Adopt Electronic Records
Officials are celebrating more than 140 Massachusetts doctors who have adopted computerized medical records to submit prescriptions, send and archive lab results and exchange information with others. The physicians represent the first group in the state to meet federal standards for “meaningful use” of electronic records (11/2). 

NPR: Miss. Set To Vote On Measure Making Fetus A Person
Next week Mississippi voters will decide whether to pass a constitutional amendment that redefines a person.  ... The measure would ban abortion with no exceptions for rape or incest, but those who oppose it say it's about much more. They contend the language is so broad and vague it could ban some forms of birth control like IUDs and the morning-after pill (Lohr, 11/2).

Health News Florida: Unpaid Fines To DOH: $5M
Doctors, nurses and other health professionals owe the state of Florida more than $5 million in unpaid fines and fees imposed over the past five years, according to state records. ... Medical doctors, MD's, owe by far the most, nearly $1.5 million. Even though nurses are far more numerous, they have only about half as much in unpaid fines and costs (Gentry, 11/1). 

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