KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: February 25, 2011

Today's headlines include reports about developments in New York's Medicaid program and other state-level news.

Kaiser Health News: Wisconsin Union Battle Masks Medicaid Tensions
Kaiser Health News staff writer Christopher Weaver, working in collaboration with Politico, reports: "Hiding out at a secret location in Illinois, Wisconsin state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout ends every media interview with the same warning: Republican Gov. Scott Walker's attack on public employee unions is overshadowing another part of his budget plan that could shred the state's health care safety net" (Weaver, 2/25).

Kaiser Health News: HHS To Governors: You Have Flexibility On Health Reform Implementation
Kaiser Health News staff writer Mary Agnes Carey reports: "With the nation's governors about to descend on Washington for their winter meeting, the Department of Health and Human Services today continued its campaign to calm their concerns that the health law is too expensive and complex for cash-strapped states to implement" (Carey, 2/25).

The Wall Street Journal: Shutdown Preparations Begin
Agencies throughout the government are scrambling to figure out how to handle a government shutdown, with a potential closure as soon as March 5 prompting a review of which activities are essential and which aren't (Bendavid and Paletta, 2/25).

The Wall Street Journal: Cuomo In Medicaid Deal
Striking a compromise with the hospital industry, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has agreed to a new Medicaid plan that would scale back his goals for cost-cutting but would give his administration significant leeway to regulate growth in the public insurance program (Gershman, 2/25).

The New York Times: New York Medicaid Panel Backs Cuts
In an unexpected vote, a committee appointed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to cut billions in health care spending approved on Thursday an annual spending cap and across-the-board reductions for all Medicaid providers (Kaplan, 2/24).

Politico: Mitt Romney: Proud Of Massachusetts Health Care Law
Mitt Romney rejected Mike Huckabee's call for him to admit that the "RomneyCare" health care program failed, instead saying he's "proud" of "getting everyone covered" when he was governor of Massachusetts (Haberman, 2/25).

Chicago Tribune: Dangerous Doctors Slipping Through The Cracks
State agencies, county prosecutors, insurance companies, and health care employers and associations are mandatory reporters - they're required to report potentially dangerous and unprofessional doctors to medical regulators, who can bar the doctors from practicing and keep patients out of harm's way. But the mandatory reporters sound few alarms, and when they do, regulators rarely take action, the Tribune found. There were 348 mandatory reports filed with the state in 2009. That's out of nearly 46,000 physicians statewide. In only one case did the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation respond by suspending the physician's license, records show (Twohey, 2/24).

The Texas Tribune/New York Times: As Mental Health Cuts Mount, Psychiatric Cases Fill Jails
Some inmates say it is the best mental health care available to them in Houston, and it costs the county about $27 million a year. Harris County officials have seen the number of mentally ill inmates explode since 2003, the last time Texas had a budget crisis and made major cuts. Then, there were fewer than three full-time psychiatrists at the jail. Now, there are more than 15. Often they see the same mentally ill inmates repeatedly (Grissom, 2/24).

The Washington Post: Virginia Assembly Says Abortion Clinics Should Be Regulated As Hospitals
Antiabortion activists scored a major victory in Virginia as the state's General Assembly agreed Thursday that clinics where most of the state's early-term abortions are performed should be regulated as hospitals instead of as doctors' offices (Helderman, 2/25).

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