KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Roundup: Texas Docs Turn To Politics; Calif. Legislative Action On Health

News outlets provide health care news from California, Montana and Texas.

The Texas Tribune: For Doctors In Politics, Medicine Often Trumps Party
The state's largest doctors association says it can't remember a time when so many Texas physicians held elected office in Texas. But sometimes their medical backgrounds put them at odds with members of their own party (Bernier, 10/8).

The Associated Press: Health Care Fight Exposes GOP Fissures In States
An acrimonious debate over the federal health care overhaul is seeping into state capitols, creating fissures among Republicans as the tea party movement reasserts its influence in GOP-controlled areas. States face decisions about setting up online health insurance marketplaces, and a mid-November deadline for declaring their intentions has sparked conflicts between governors and legislators across the country (Hanna, 10/7).

The Associated Press: (Montana) Ballot Questions Range From Marijuana To Abortion
Montana voters who head to the polls next month to choose a president may be surprised to also find ballot questions on medical marijuana, abortion, illegal immigrants, whether corporations are people and health insurance mandates. Those five measures have been overshadowed in a packed ballot that also includes high-stakes U.S. Senate and governor's races, an open congressional seat and a lengthy list of legislative and judicial candidates (Volz, 10/7).

California Watch: Mixed Results For Legislation Linked To Medical Care, Fraud
In the week following Gov. Jerry Brown's deadline for passing or vetoing hundreds of bills, those affected are examining successes and defeats that touch on cancer care, emergency rooms, prescribing, elder care and compensation to victims of corporate fraud. Those celebrating include a group of elder advocates who sought more autonomy for the state's elder care ombudsman (Jewett, 10/5). 

Los Angeles Times: A Sampling Of California's New Health Insurance Laws
Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law last week a set of measures aimed at preparing California for coming changes in how consumers get health care insurance. Some of the laws: To head off deceptive marketing attempts, AB 1761 bans unauthorized individuals and businesses from claiming to represent the California Health Benefit Exchange, the new central marketplace for buying insurance that goes into effect in 2014. Beginning in 2014, under AB 792, Californians who lose their health insurance because of job loss, divorce or legal separation will receive information about reduced-cost plans available through the health exchange and no-cost coverage from Medi-Cal (Wilson, 10/7).

California Healthline: Legislature Receives Final Plan For Duals Project
This was a big week for the state Department of Health Care Services, which on Monday submitted its final version of the strategic plan for the Coordinated Care Initiative -- a project in which the state eventually plans to move on million seniors and disabled "dual eligible" Californians to Medi-Cal managed care plans. Dual-eligibles are eligible for both the Medicare and Medi-Cal programs. By meshing the two funding sources and patient services, the state plans to improve the quality of care while also saving money. Initially, the duals demonstration project will start with eight California counties (Alameda, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties) and the approximately 700,000 dual-eligibles in those counties (Gorn, 10/5).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: D.C. To Merge Individual Insurance Market With Small Businesses Under New Health Care Law
Small businesses in Washington will be required to buy employee health insurance through a city-run exchange beginning in 2014. The District of Columbia is combining its health care exchange markets for individuals and small businesses that have fewer than 50 employees. The D.C. Health Benefit Exchange Authority voted unanimously Wednesday to combine the health exchanges, despite opposition from businesses. Some said the exchange will lead to higher costs (10/6).

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