Roundup: Texas Members Oppose State’s MLR Waiver; Calif.’s Disability Case Takes Unusual Turn
News outlets report on state health policy developments in California, Kansas, Massachusetts, Georgia, Michigan, Texas, Connecticut and Washington.
The Washington Post: In Kansas, Gov. Sam Brownback Puts Tea Party Tenets Into Action With Sharp Cuts
If you want to know what a Tea Party America might look like, there is no place like Kansas. In the past year, three state agencies have been abolished and 2,050 jobs have been cut. Funding for schools, social services and the arts have been slashed. The new Republican governor rejected a $31.5 million federal grant for a new health-insurance exchange because he opposes President Obama's health-care law. And that's just the small stuff (Gowen, 12/21).
CQ HealthBeat: Texas Members Urge HHS To Deny Texas MLR Request
Democratic members of the Texas congressional delegation urged the Department of Health and Human Services on Wednesday to turn down a request from their state’s insurance officials for a phase-in of medical loss ratio regulations. "Once again, some in Texas are more interested in protecting insurance companies than protecting consumers," said the letter from Lloyd Doggett and seven other House members. "Granting this request would be a tremendous mistake and increase the cost of health care to consumers" (Norman, 12/21).
KQED: Saving A Program For State's Most Fragile Citizens
This week, a few hundred nurses are fanning out the state to assess who will qualify for a scaled-down adult day health care program. The state had planned to dismantle the network of more than 300 care centers to cut costs, but a legal settlement with advocates for the elderly and disabled has saved part of the program (Varney, 12/21).
California Healthline: Disability Case Takes Unusual Turn
A federal judge temporarily halted automatic "trigger cuts" to the state's budget that would reduce In-Home Supportive Services by 20%. A hearing on the issue, originally scheduled this month, is now scheduled Jan. 19. In the meantime, a state declaration filed in the case said 66,000 Californians would be exempt from the cuts -- including all children younger than age 21. "In total, approximately 66,000 IHSS recipients will be completely exempt from the 20% reduction, which is roughly 15% of all IHSS recipients," according to a declaration by Eileen Carroll, deputy director of the Adult Programs Division at the Department of Social Services (Gorn, 12/21).
Modern Healthcare: Suit Against UCLA Health System Filed For Breach
A class-action suit has been filed seeking potentially as much as $16 million in damages for a data security breach involving the encrypted, but still vulnerable, electronic medical records of patients at the UCLA Health System... According to the 10-page complaint, on Sept. 6, 2011, an external hard drive storing the records of [Ani] Oganyan and about 16,000 other patients who are part of the class was stolen during a home invasion at the residence of a physician working with the UCLA Faculty Group (Conn, 12/21).
Boston Globe: Number Of Serious Hospital Mistakes In Mass. Unchanged
The number of Massachusetts hospital patients who had the wrong body part operated on, received an erroneous medication, or were seriously disabled or died from a fall remained essentially unchanged in 2010 compared with the previous year, according to hospital safety data released yesterday by state regulators. In all, 512 patients suffered from a so-called serious reportable event in 2010, compared with 510 in 2009, according to the numbers released by the state Department of Public Health (Lazar, 12/21).
Detroit Free Press: CEO Mike Duggan's $2.41M Deal With DMC Is Extended
Detroit Medical Center CEO Mike Duggan has extended his contract with a Nashville company that owns the Detroit health system to continue in his job indefinitely. Duggan's contract was to have expired on Jan. 4. But last week he negotiated a new contract with Vanguard Health Systems, owner of the DMC, which made the document public Monday in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The new agreement describes Duggan's base pay as $974,500 (Anstett and Walsh, 12/20).
The Sacramento Bee: State Site Explains Long-Term Health Care
The state has launched a website to help Californians with long-term health care planning. The site, www.rureadyca.org, was created by the state Department of Health Care Services' California Partnership for Long-Term Care (Glover, 12/21).
Georgia Health News: Grady Seeks Solution To Clinic Building Problem
A recent government inspection of Atlanta's Grady Memorial Hospital found some building improvements needed to be made at the facility, including an upgrade of its fire sprinklers. Blocks away from the main campus, a Grady mental health outpatient clinic on Auburn Avenue has experienced its own structural problems: an often malfunctioning system for air conditioning and heating. … The building problems Grady faces are symptomatic of the financial challenges facing the state's largest safety-net hospital. The Grady system, suffering from reduced local and federal funding, is facing a shortfall of $20 million this year, and has closed two neighborhood clinics and cut 200 jobs (Miller, 12/21).
HealthyCal: Program Brings Mobile Clinics To Churches
Seeking to extend health care to the poor, medical teams from Loma Linda University Medical Center and a few other hospitals are turning to organizations long accustomed to neighborhood service: churches. … Loma Linda is collaborating with churches in Riverside and San Bernardino counties to deliver some 80 outreach programs, ranging from childhood obesity prevention to basic medical services (Richard, 12/21).
Texas Tribune: Interactive: Mental Health Workforce Shortage More Critical In Minority Communities
Texas is already short on mental health professionals, including psychiatrists, psychologists, licensed counselors, nurses and social workers. But another issue compounds the problem: a disparity in diagnosing and treating the state's rapidly growing minority communities. Among the state's current cadre of licensed psychiatrists, cultural and ethnic diversity are lacking. As of 2009, 64 percent of all psychiatrists were white, 3.5 percent were African-American, and 12.4 percent were Hispanic, according to statistics in the latest Texas State Health Plan for 2011-2016 (Tan, Dehn and Murphy, 12/22).
CT Mirror: For The Developmentally Disabled, It's Public Versus Private Care
Employees for private service providers … and legislative researchers for the General Assembly's Program Review and Investigations Committee think the state needs to make a gradual transition from using both public and private service providers for the developmentally disabled, to using just the private, smaller, community-based providers (Emma, 12/21).
The Seattle Times: State Plans Emergency Warning On Risks Of Methadone
Alarmed by evidence that hundreds of patients die each year from accidental overdoses of prescription pain drugs, the state of Washington will issue a public-health advisory that singles out the unique risks of methadone, a narcotic medication linked to the most fatalities (Berens and Armstrong, 12/21).