State Roundup: Calif. Budget Problems Bring Additional Medicaid Cutbacks
News outlets report on a variety of state health policy issues.
The New York Times: Aiding Disabled, Nonprofits Rake In State Money
Spending on this little-known home care program, called Community Habilitation, has soared in recent years, creating multimillion-dollar surpluses at some nonprofit agencies and eye-popping salaries and benefits for those who run them. And it helps explain how New York's costs of caring for developmentally disabled people have ballooned in recent years, creating the nation's most generous system of Medicaid-financed programs, with little scrutiny of its efficiency or result (Buettner, 12/13).
HealthyCal: Brown Unveils Revenue Update, Automatic Cuts
Gov. Jerry Brown delivered what passes for good news today: the automatic budget cuts built into this year's budget as a hedge against a revenue shortfall will not be as bad as many feared. … But higher education, local prosecutors' offices, Medi-Cal and services for the disabled will all be cut. And this probably won't be the end of it. … Even after all of this, the state will still likely face a shortfall of more than $10 billion next year (Weintraub, 12/13).
KQED: State Revenues Come Up Short, Trigger Mid-Year Cuts To Social Services
Governor Jerry Brown today announced $1 billion in cuts to education and social services — effective January first. State revenues have come up short, triggering the automatic mid-year cuts to public schools, colleges, universities Medi-Cal, and in-home support services (12/13).
The Associated Press/Washington Post: US Attorney Announces Arrests Of NJ Doctors, Others Stemming From Alleged Kickback Scheme
Federal authorities charged more than a dozen doctors Tuesday in an alleged kickback scheme, accusing them of receiving cash payments for referring patients to a northern New Jersey diagnostic facility for tests. U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman says 15 doctors and other health care providers have been charged with receiving bribes in exchange for referring mostly Medicaid and Medicare patients to the Orange Community MRI radiology and diagnostic facility in Orange (12/13).
Denver Post: Kaiser Pushes Into Northern Colorado, Partners With Banner
Kaiser Permanente will sell its health insurance plan for the first time in Northern Colorado, backing it with new medical offices and hospital access, a major expansion the large insurer says was long-sought by members and businesses. Kaiser has more than 530,000 members in its self-contained health maintenance organization, concentrated in Denver, Boulder and southern Colorado. It has 6,000 members in Northern Colorado from existing plans, but has not marketed there before (Booth, 12/13). (Kaiser Health News is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.)
Modern Healthcare: Ky. Hospital Turns Over Merger-Related Documents
After much reluctance, officials at the University of Louisville's hospital agreed to turn over records pertaining to their merger plans with two other Kentucky hospitals. ... Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Irv Maze last week ordered the hospital to provide him with the records, which were received on Monday (Selvam, 12/13).
The Associated Press/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Foes Of Ohio Abortion Ban At 1st Heartbeat Get Say
Opponents of an Ohio bill banning abortions at the first detectable fetal heartbeat told senators Tuesday the measure is unconstitutional, radical and cruel and would effectively ban abortion in the state. Interested parties, including clergy members and doctors, also spoke to a committee considering what's referred to as the "heartbeat bill," which would give Ohio the most stringent abortion limit in the nation. Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, called the bill an outrageous piece of legislation that "aims to roll back the right to privacy and virtually eliminate a woman's right to choose" (Carr Smyth, 12/13).
Dayton Daily News: Committee Hears From 'Heartbeat' Opponents
Opponents of the "Heartbeat" bill had their say Tuesday before a Senate committee, including one witness whose plea for "peace" in the heated debate over abortion drew a challenge from Sen. Peggy Lehner, R-Kettering. Cathy Levy, an opponent and executive director of the Ohio Coalition for Religious Choice, got the attention of Lehner, who's on the committee, when Levy urged everyone, in the spirit of the holiday season, to attack the problems that lead to abortion, including abuse, poverty and addiction. ... Lehner, who opposes abortion, said she agreed with much of what Levy said but questioned references to peace when discussing "ripping an unborn child" apart (Hershey, 12/14).
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Bill Would Require Doctors To Confirm Abortion Request Is Voluntary
Women could not receive drugs that induce abortions unless a doctor gives them a physical exam and is in the same room when they receive the drugs, under a bill before a legislative committee Tuesday. In testimony to the state Senate Committee on Health on Tuesday, abortion opponents said the legislation is needed to ensure that doctors aren't using web cameras to consult with women about the drugs and that women aren't being pressured into receiving abortions. Opponents of the legislation said that the web camera technique is not used in Wisconsin currently, that state law already requires abortions to be voluntary and that the bill is intended to make it harder for women to get an abortion (Stein, 12/13).
WBUR's Common Health blog: Why Are So Many Low-Income People In Massachusetts Still Uninsured?
The good news from this figure is that only 13% of people who were uninsured for the full year (or ~22,000 people) lacked coverage because they could not find any affordable plan. Of course, now that we have a state affordability schedule, even one person who can’t find affordable coverage is an official public policy problem. But a lack of affordable coverage is not an issue for a huge number of people (Turnbull, 12/13).
California Healthline: How To Protect Seniors During Duals Conversion?
Protecting the level of medical care for dual eligibles (Californians eligible for both Medicare and Medi-Cal benefits) was the subject of yesterday's stakeholder meeting in San Francisco. … The four pilot sites for the dual eligible demonstration project are expected to be chosen in mid- to late March, so those town-hall meetings are designed to solicit input before that decision is made. The state is moving relatively slowly on the duals project, which involves about 1.1 million Californians who generally have multiple medical conditions, medications and providers (Gorn, 12/13).
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Milwaukee Police To Pay More For Health Care In Exchange For Raise
Milwaukee police have agreed to pay more for their health care in exchange for pay raises, the last and largest of the city's public safety unions to reach a deal under a new state bargaining law. ... city negotiators achieved a key goal by requiring the officers and investigators to pay 12% of their health care premiums, the same proportion all other city employees must pay under the new state law and the other public safety union contracts, City Labor Negotiator Troy Hamblin said (Sandler, 12/13).