KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Viewpoints: Who Loses In The Mo. Budget Debate; Ill.’s Medical Debt

A selection of state-based opinions on health care.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Balancing The Budget On Backs Of Those Living With Mental Illnesses
The Missouri House Budget Committee recently voted to pass HB 986 to try to reduce pharmacy costs in MO HealthNet (Medicaid) by restricting access to antipsychotic medications. Although we support the wise use of taxpayer dollars, the bill that now goes to the House floor contains a provision that would be harmful for individuals living with serious mental illness. The increase in direct, indirect and societal costs from this bill would outweigh any significant savings that Missouri would realize. (Darwyn E. Walker and Mark Utterback, 5/2)

The Kansas City Star: Which Poor Missourians Will Have To Pay For Lawmakers’ Mistakes?
We have a question for Missouri lawmakers struggling with which bits of gristle and fat have to be cut out of the state’s $27 billion budget by Friday. The options now on the table have you debating whether to a) cut support for in-home and nursing home care for the elderly and disabled or b) cut tax credits for elderly, poor renters. All we want to know is: Whaaaa? How did these get to be the choices? (5/1)

Chicago Tribune: Illinois' Medical Debt Spiral Injures People, Economy
Right now, Illinois owes a whopping $2.5 billion in medical bills to the state's hospitals and managed care providers that help fund locally based clinics, mental health groups and home care providers, according to the state comptroller's office. In addition, Illinois is liable for a projected $4.6 billion in group medical insurance claims for state workers, retirees and their dependents, state data show. As if that weren't enough, Illinois is adding every day to an estimated $11 billion-plus in unpaid bills of all sorts — courtesy of our elected leaders, both Democrats and Republicans, who have failed to pass a budget for over two years running. (Robert Reed, 5/2)

The Columbus Dispatch: Ouch! Mosquito, Zika Fears Return
When it comes to killing humans, no animal even comes close to the ones that could be hatching right now in central Ohio yards, perhaps lurking in a birdbath, pet water bowl or a child’s wading pool. Spring means mosquitoes in central Ohio. These little bloodsuckers aren’t merely itchy, they’re deadly, spreading diseases such as Zika, West Nile and Chikungunya viruses, as well as dengue and malaria in parts of the world. (5/2)

Bloomberg: How Slow Pace Of Justice Is Harmful: Texas Edition 
What if the U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark abortion rights ruling -- and nothing changed? Case in point: Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt, the decision from last June that established a new and improved constitutional rule for when a law unduly burdens a woman’s right to choose. Legally, the ruling struck down a Texas law that forced abortion clinics to close unless they qualified as ambulatory care centers. But now, almost a year later, only two of the clinics closed by the law have reopened. Roughly two dozen others closed during the three years the law was in effect, and many or most of those are unlikely to be revived. (Noah Feldman, 5/1)

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Missouri’s Asbestos Victims Deserve Better From Lawmakers
The fact that I’m still here more than a decade later is thanks in part to the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, which connected me with a great doctor in New York. I’ve had five major surgeries and rounds of heated chemotherapy. I’ve traveled to New York dozens of times for terror-inducing scans to monitor my disease. It’s stable now, but it inevitably will return. I’ll be fighting this cancer for the rest of my life. I just didn’t expect I’d have to fight the Missouri Legislature, too. (Julie Gundlach, 5/2)

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