KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Roundup: N.J. Plan Would Cut Medicaid By $500 Million

The Hill: HHS Makes $40 Million Available For States' Chronic Disease Prevention
States and territories are eligible for up to $40 million to strengthen and coordinate efforts to prevent chronic disease, the Health and Human Services Department announced Tuesday. The initiative is funded by the healthcare reform law and targets the nation's five leading chronic diseases: heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes and arthritis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which will oversee the initiative, expects to award funds for three-year programs (Pecquet, 6/7). 

NPR: New Jersey Seeks To Shrink Medicaid
Cash-strapped states are rethinking how much health care coverage they can afford to provide for their neediest residents. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie wants to cut $500 million in Medicaid spending - in part by freezing more than 20,000 state residents out of the program. Critics say the cuts would hurt those who can least afford it. … The most controversial part of New Jersey's plan would block access to Medicaid for an estimated 23,000 people next year - and it would do that basically by disqualifying any adult who makes more than $6,000 a year (Rose, 6/7). 

Kansas Health Institute News: Budget Cuts Lead To Fewer Children Admitted For Psychiatric Treatment
As a result of state budget cuts, there has been a quick and dramatic drop in the number of children admitted to Kansas psychiatric treatment facilities. The state Medicaid program works with 18 psychiatric residential treatment facilities, which mental health professionals call PRTFs for short. ... In January, according to data recently compiled by facility operators, about 575 children were residing at the facilities. By May, there were fewer than 400. The sharp decline, most agree, was driven by state budget cuts, though some say the facilities historically were admitting more children than necessary and that the cuts have simply made community mental health centers more careful about referrals (Ranney, 6/7). 

Denver Post: Colorado Audit Faults Program To Comfort Dying Children
A Colorado Medicaid program to comfort dying children has failed to deliver services to many enrollees, and it has spent very little money on those who were served, an audit shows. More than a quarter of the children enrolled in the "pediatric hospice" program ordered by the legislature received no services during a 16-month audit period, said the Office of the State Auditor (Booth, 6/8).

Des Moines Register: All Iowa Hospitals Sign On To Effort To Prevent Errors
Iowa is the first state in which every hospital has joined a national effort to cut medical errors and reduce the number of patients readmitted for follow-up care, health care leaders said Tuesday. The goals of the new program include cutting hospital-acquired conditions, such as infections, by 40 percent by the end of 2013. They also include trimming hospital readmissions by 20 percent (Leys, 6/7).

The Hill: Taxpayers Footing The Bill For Improper Medicaid Payments For Personal Care Services
Medicaid is getting ripped off by providers of nonmedical services like bathing, dressing and light housework, says the Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General. OIG recommends that two states -- North Carolina and Washington -- refund more than $61 million to the federal government in the wake of two recent audits (Pecquet, 6/7). 

The Miami Herald: Miami-Dade's Congressional Delegation Still Questions Care At Miami VA Hospital
Members of Miami's congressional delegation, visiting Miami's Veterans Administration Hospital for the third time Tuesday, remained dissatisfied with the way VA officials are handling the aftermath of revelations that nearly 2,500 veterans might have been exposed to HIV and other illness during colonoscopies performed with improperly cleaned equipment. … The colonoscopy problem began in April 2009, when the Miami VA hospital notified 2,400 vets that the colonoscopies they received since 2004 might have been done with equipment that had been rinsed rather than chemically sterilized according to the manufacturer's instructions (Tasker, 6/7). 

California Healthline: Basic Care, Medical Home, Home Care Act All Clear First Hurdle
A number of health care-related bills just met the deadline for passage ... Beyond the high-profile AB 52 by Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles) to regulate health insurance rate hikes, there were several health-related bills that moved on: An estimated one million home health care aides are unlicensed, and the Home Care Act of 2011 aims to change that. ... [Also] the patient-centered medical home got a vote of confidence from the state Senate. ... [State Sen.] Hernandez also authored SB 703, which would create a basic health insurance option for Californians who are between 133% and 200% of federal poverty level (Gorn, 6/7). 

Dallas Morning News: Texas Poised To Pass Bills Seeking Wholesale Change In Medicaid, Medicare
Texas will soon try to completely rebuild its sprawling Medicaid program for the needy, as the Legislature is poised to pass bills seeking federal permission to do so, despite health providers' reservations (Garrett, 6/7). 

The Texas Tribune: Feds May Block Effort To Force Out Planned Parenthood
GOP lawmakers have gone to great lengths to force Planned Parenthood out of Texas' Medicaid Women's Health Program, which provides family planning and reproductive health care - but not abortions - for more than 100,000 low-income women every year. ... A hearing at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) Thursday is expected to try to seal the deal by clarifying regulatory language to exclude Planned Parenthood from the state program.But the Obama administration may have headed off their plans. ... the director of the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) sent a memo to all 50 states reminding them that while Medicaid doesn't fund abortions, Medicaid programs can't exclude health care providers who offer them. States who don't comply could risk the loss of federal Medicaid funds (Ramshaw, 6/8). 

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Dallas Pays Almost 2.5 Million To Resolve Allegations Of Improper Claims On Ambulance Runs
The city of Dallas will pay Texas and the U.S. government almost $2.5 million to resolve allegations of miscoded claims submitted to Medicare and Medicaid for ambulances dispatched from 911 calls between 2006 and 2010 (6/7).

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