KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Medi-Cal Enrollees Have More Trouble Finding Docs Than People With Other Plans

In other Medicaid news: In Oregon, Gov. John Kitzhaber has convinced the federal government that he has a way to make Medicaid treatment better, and Georgia faces risks as it moves all of its Medicaid patients to managed care.

Los Angeles Times: Medi-Cal Works For Most Enrollees, Survey Finds
As California gears up for a major expansion of its publicly funded health program for the poor, a statewide survey released Thursday shows that Medi-Cal enrollees have more trouble finding doctors and use the emergency room more frequently than people with other health coverage (Gorman, 5/31).

San Jose Mercury News: Medi-Cal Users Struggle Ahead Of Expansion
As California's Medi-Cal program readies for an influx of 2 million to 3 million people when national health reforms kick in, major challenges lie ahead, including finding enough specialists who will see participants. The state's existing 7.5 million Medi-Cal recipients already have difficulty accessing specialists, according to a study by the California HealthCare Foundation. And adults on Medi-Cal are twice as likely to visit the emergency room as people with other coverage, the study reveals. This may be an indication of greater difficulty in seeing primary care doctors (Kleffman, 5/31).

Kaiser Health News: Oregon's $2 Billion Medicaid Bet
Gov. John Kitzhaber, a Democrat and a former emergency room doctor, has convinced the federal government that he has a way to make Medicaid treatment better, and cheaper, by completely changing the way the sickest people in Oregon get health care (Foden-Vencil, 5/30).

Georgia Health News: State Faces Risk In Medicaid Managed Care Switch
The potential state move of all Medicaid patients into managed care comes with a multimillion-dollar catch. Georgia could lose roughly $175 million to more than $220 million in federal funding annually for the program if it makes the managed care switch, based on figures for the last two fiscal years. The state, though, could seek federal permission to hold on to those "upper payment limit" (UPL) dollars. Texas sought and got federal approval in December to bring Medicaid beneficiaries into managed care and keep the funding, but only after the Lone Star State promised significant reforms to improve community health care (Miller, 5/30).

Also in the news -

Detroit Free Press: Lawyer Agrees To Temporarily Withhold Union Dues From Payments To Home Health Care Workers
A lawyer for the state of Michigan agreed today to temporarily continue withholding union dues from payments made to 41,000 home health care workers who provide services to low-income elderly and disabled residents under the state's Medicaid program. Assistant Attorney General Joshua Smith agreed to continue the collections after U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds expressed her willingness to issuing a temporary restraining order that would have continued the practice until she can sort out a legal dispute over the issue. The dues collections will continue at least until a follow-up court hearing on June 20 (Ashenfelter, 5/30).

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