State Roundup: Md. Hospital Rate-Setting System Under Scrutiny
News outlets report on a variety of health policy news in Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Oregon and Texas.
Baltimore Sun: Maryland Hospital Rating System In Danger Of Failing
For 35 years, Maryland has enjoyed a unique exemption from the federal government that allowed it to regulate hospital rates so that patients are charged the same no matter where they seek care. But the system that state health officials say has created an egalitarian way of charging for health care now faces an unprecedented challenge. The state has come dangerously close to failing a test it must meet every three months to keep the exemption, under which the federal government gives Maryland larger Medicare payments than other states. To pass, the state must show federal officials that its Medicare costs have grown more slowly than in the rest of the country (Walker, 6/9).
Houston Chronicle: Hospital District Sued By Indigent Patients
A new lawsuit accuses the Harris County Hospital District of withholding services from indigent patients who could become sicker if they don't receive care. The complaint alleges that the district is violating state law by charging co-payments for doctor visits and prescriptions before evaluating an individual's ability to pay. The lawsuit claims indigent patients were denied care at health centers and pharmacies, but not emergency rooms (George, 6/10).
CBS (Video): Texas Health Program Looks To Cover Small Businesses
With the Supreme Court set to rule on the constitutionality of the Obama administration's health care reform law, one state is paying particular attention. More than 27 percent of Texans are now uninsured, and as Ben Tracy reports, thousands of small businesses in the state find themselves with a big problem (6/10).
The Wall Street Journal: Union Fund Gets Another Albany Assist
The troubled insurance fund for 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East's personal-care workers will get a $70 million government bailout this year under a deal struck in Albany, the second taxpayer assist in less than a year for the powerful union's employee benefits fund (Gershman, 6/10).
KLCC/Minnesota Public Radio: For Uninsured In Ore., A Flat Fee For Health Care
In Oregon, lawmakers recently loosened regulations on insurance, allowing so-called retainer medical clinics. These are medical practices that charge member patients a set monthly fee for basic medical care and don't accept insurance (McDonald, 6/11).
Reuters: Most Oppose NYC Plan To Curb Sugary Drinks: Poll
Most Americans oppose New York City's plan to limit the serving size of sugary drinks and don't see it helping the fight against obesity, according to a nationwide Reuters/Ipsos poll. At the same time, a majority of those polled said such a rule would make them change what or how much they drink (Heavey, 6/8).
Georgia Health News: State's Hispanics Lag In Health Categories
Almost half of the more than 850,000 Hispanics in Georgia lack health insurance, a much higher rate than the national average, a new report finds. The Georgia Latino Health Report 2012, released Thursday, says 47 percent of Hispanics in the state are uninsured, versus 31 percent nationally (Miller, 6/8).
Detroit Free Press: Sparrow Health System Added To Mayo Clinic Network
The Mayo Clinic, a nationally recognized health system, announced a formal agreement Friday to add the Lansing-based Sparrow Health System to its national network of clinic sites. Sparrow will be the first health system in Michigan and one of five in the U.S. chosen to be in the Mayo network. The collaboration means patients in the mid-Michigan area will have access to top-ranked doctors and services in the Mayo Clinic system. Their doctors will be able to consult Mayo doctors electronically and have access to the system's clinical database of best practices in medicine (Anstett, 6/9).
Associated Press/Kansas City Star: Missouri Bill Seeks To Better Protect Seniors From Scams
Elderly and disabled Missouri residents could gain new protection against financial exploitation by people who have authority over them under legislation awaiting action by Gov. Jay Nixon. Missouri already has a law making it a crime to take financial advantage of an elderly or disabled person through deception, intimidation or force. The bill on Nixon's desk would expand that law, criminalizing the use of "undue influence" to financially exploit a disabled or elderly person's "vulnerable state of mind, neediness, pain or agony" (Blan, 6/9).
(St. Paul) Pioneer Press: Twin Cities Hospital Profit Down In 2011
Hospital and clinic systems based in the Twin Cities saw a decline in operating income and profit margins during 2011. For a group of a dozen health systems based in five large counties in the metro area, operating income fell about 21 percent from about $363 million during fiscal 2010 to about $288 million last year. Collective revenue for the health systems grew by about 5 percent from $10.7 billion in fiscal 2010 to $11.2 billion last year (Snowbeck, 6/9).
Modern Healthcare: Maryland Docs Say No To More 'Reimbursement'
Whereas terms such as "reimbursement" instead of "payment" and "provider" instead of "physician" really get on some doctors' nerves, the 22,000-member Maryland State Medical Society has resolved to do something about it. … The Maryland docs introduced a resolution to be debated at the upcoming American Medical Association House of Delegates meeting taking place June 16-20 in Chicago that would make it AMA policy that the word "payment" be used instead of "reimbursement" in "all communications that relate to financial transactions between physicians and third-party payers" (6/9).
WBUR: WBUR Poll: Mass. Health Costs 'A Serious Problem' For Many
Our poll, Sick in Massachusetts, finds that 78 percent of patient respondents say the cost of care is a very serious or somewhat serious problem. And 63 percent say the problem has gotten worse over the last five years (Bebinger, 6/11).