KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Revenues Grow, But States Wrestle With Shortfalls In Medicaid Needs

A new Census Bureau report find revenues for local and state governments are growing but many states are still having difficulty funding Medicaid programs. In Conn., the governor says he has reservations about a proposal to create a new entity to oversee state health care. California and New Jersey officials are having trouble finding cuts to balance the budget. And hospital officials in Texas are urging lawmakers to not trim health care.

The Washington Post: Revenues Up For State, Local Governments But Shortfalls Persist
State and local tax revenues grew during the last three months of 2010, continuing a recovery from the steep drops that followed the recession, the Census Bureau reported Tuesday. ... Though the recovery in state revenues is good news for state and local governments, it has not been sufficient to compensate for the huge revenue losses caused by the recession. States also are coping with fast-increasing costs for Medicaid and higher education, while they are bracing for the loss of about $50 billion in federal stimulus money in the coming budget year (Fletcher, 3/29).

The Connecticut Mirror: Malloy Expresses Strongest Doubts Yet About SustiNet
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy tonight used his strongest language to date to question the wisdom of placing control over state health care, a significant and growing piece of the state budget, in the hands of the proposed quasi-public SustiNet Authority. "The idea we would move these cost centers from direct government control, particularly our relationship with our employees, and turn it over to a quasi-public entity over which we have no direct control is a bit of a stretch -- as in it's never been done before," Malloy said in a town hall meeting on his proposed budget. Malloy also questioned taking on the cost of such a system, which would oversee health benefits for state employees, retirees and Medicaid recipients (Pazniokas, 3/29). 

The Star Ledger: N.J. Treasurer Provides Few Details On Christie's Medicaid Overhaul Plan
(Gov. Chris) Christie is hoping to save $300 million from overhauling Medicaid through a global waiver from the federal government. The administration has yet to detail how the waiver will change Medicaid, and the public and lawmakers have expressed frustration at the uncertainty in recent weeks. When asked to provide specifics during an Assembly Budget Committee hearing today, New Jersey Treasurer Andrew P. Sidamon-Eristoff said he'll defer to other departments heads who will explain the changes in the upcoming weeks (Renshaw, 3/29).

California Healthline: 'It'll Be Very Bad for Care of the Mentally Ill'
Governor Jerry Brown last week signed a major chunk of his $14 billion budget reduction package -- a combination of cuts, loans and redirected funds. It included about $6 billion in health-related reductions. The second half of Brown's budget solution involves tax extensions that must be approved by voters and could generate as much as $12 billion for California. If that ballot measure fails, then Brown has said he will need to cut that amount. ... Brown has not yet revealed what his second round of cuts would be specifically, but last week he mentioned mental health and emergency services in discussing what might be hurt by non-passage of the tax extensions (Gorn, 3/29). 

Modern Healthcare: Texas Hospitals Fight Healthcare Cuts
The Texas Hospital Association, Austin, is urging members of the state House of Representatives to not cut state funding of healthcare, ahead of a probable vote on a budget bill this week. The THA opposes proposed budget cuts in the bill that include: a 10% cut in Medicaid reimbursement for hospitals, physicians and nursing homes; Medicaid cost containment measures of about $225 million; a $13 million reduction in funding of trauma centers; and an almost $35 million reduction in a nursing shortage fund, according to a THA news release (Barr, 3/29). 

Health News Florida: House Deflects Doubts On Medicaid
The Florida House is ready to remake Medicaid into a managed-care program, despite questions Tuesday from Democrats about whether the changes would hurt some patients. The Republican-dominated House likely will vote Thursday on its Medicaid plan, setting up complicated negotiations with the Senate about how to overhaul the $20 billion program. ... House Health and Human Services Chairman Rob Schenck, R-Spring Hill, said the plan would improve care for Medicaid beneficiaries while also helping control the program's spiraling costs. But Rep. Elaine Schwartz, D-Hollywood, questioned whether increasing the role of for-profit managed-care companies in Medicaid would lead to limiting services for beneficiaries (Saunders, 3/29).

The Miami Herald: Dead, Wounded Kids At Center Of Medicaid Lawsuit Reforms
A baby's brain is damaged in a botched surgery. A 10-year-old in Florida's child-welfare system is tortured and killed as her helpless brother listens in torment. These ripped-from-the-headlines cases are recipes for easy lawsuits – but that could change if Republican lawmakers get their way. In the midst of expanding HMO-style management in Medicaid, the Legislature is passing a raft of proposals that limit the liability of Medicaid doctors, hospitals, nursing homes and private community-based care companies (Caputo, 3/29). 

Kansas Health Institute News: House Committees Endorse Provider Tax
A pair of House committees have passed a bill that would tax community-based programs for people with developmental disabilities. Revenues from the proposed tax would then be used to leverage additional federal Medicaid dollars for the programs, similar to existing provider taxes for hospitals and nursing homes (Ranney, 3/29).

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