KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Roundup: N.Y. To Pay $5 Million To End Suit Over Autistic Teen’s Death

News outlets report on a variety of state health policy issues.

The New York Times: $5 Million To End Suits Over Death Of 13-Year-Old Boy In State Care
The State of New York has agreed to pay $5 million to settle two civil suits brought by the family of a boy with autism who died in state care, among the larger wrongful-death settlements ever paid by the state (Hakim, 9/21).

Chicago Tribune: New U. Of C. Institute Aims To Improve Doctor-Patient Relationship
The University of Chicago Medical Center will receive a $42 million gift to create a teaching institute designed to improve communications between doctors and their patients. … While all medical schools have programs that focus on doctor-patient relationships, university officials said their new venture would support the career development and activities of doctors, from medical students to early-career faculty to senior "master" clinicians (9/22).

The Connecticut Mirror: State Physicians' Group Leading The Way On 'Bundled Payments'
Dr. Courtland Lewis has been fielding a lot of anxiety-filled queries lately--not from his patients, but from other doctors. The Hartford-based orthopedic surgeon is suddenly one of the state's go-to experts on federal efforts to revamp how doctors and hospitals are paid for the care they provide. That's because Lewis and the knee-and-hip replacement surgeons he works with have forged an unusually close partnership with each other and with their hospital, Saint Francis in Hartford: They share financial data, they analyze complication and readmission rates together, and they've even started billing collectively, at least for a handful of targeted patients (Shesgreen, 9/21). 

McClatchy / The Sacramento Bee: California Gets Federal Funds To Review Health Insurance Rates
California won more than $4.3 million in federal grants to improve its reviews of health insurance rates. ... The state's Department of Insurance will receive more than $2.1 million. Part of the money will be used to hire more staff to speed rate reviews, and some will be used to award grants to consumer groups so that they may more effectively review and comment on rate hikes. ... The rest of California's award, $2.2 million, will go to the Department of Managed Care. ... The money will be used to build the department's data collection and IT services so it can post rate information on its public website (Smith, 9/22).

The Lund Report: ODS Rate Decision Expected Next Week
Officials at the Oregon Insurance Division anticipate making a decision on the 9.94 percent rate request by ODS Health Plan next week. If approved, that increase would impact 28,016 people starting November 1. Statewide, ODS has the second highest number of individual policyholders -- Regence BlueCross BlueShield outranks all of its competitors with 65,359 members (Lund-Muzikant, 9/21).

The Connecticut Mirror: Malloy Orders Limited Negotiating Rights For Home Care Aides, Child Care Workers
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has signed two executive orders providing a path for child care workers and home care attendants who work in state-funded programs to organize and gain collective bargaining rights. ...  the executive orders establish working groups that would report to the governor by February on how best to establish collective bargaining rights for the two groups (Levin Becker, 9/21).

The Lund Report: State Officials Take a Look At What Constitutes a Healthcare Work Force
On Monday morning, a subcommittee of the Oregon Health Policy Board began discussing the role of non-traditional healthcare workers in coordinated care organizations. ... One of the goals is to create a common description of non-traditional healthcare workers – looking at their job descriptions – while leaving enough room for flexibility (McCurdy, 9/21). 

The Sacramento Bee: Kaiser Says Sacramento-Area Hospitals Set For One-Day Nurses Strike
A top Kaiser official in Sacramento said her hospitals are prepared for the massive one-day nurses walkout set for today. Some 17,000 Kaiser nurses are among the 23,000 represented by the powerful California Nurses Association expected to walk picket lines in the Bay Area and Sacramento, in what union officials said is the nation's largest-ever nurses strike. In the Sacramento area, only Kaiser facilities are affected by the walkout (Smith, 9/22). (KHN is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.)

California Healthline: Relief and Rolled-Up Sleeves For Officials At Healthy Families
Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed ABX1 21 by Bob Blumenfield (D-Woodland Hills) on Friday, which extends a tax on managed health care organizations. That money helps fund Healthy Families, a program serving 870,000 children in California. Without passage of that bill, Healthy Families officials were staring at a budget shortfall of $130 million in state general fund dollars -- and factoring in the 2-to-1 federal match, that becomes a deficit of $390 million (Gorn, 9/21). 

HealthyCal: Uninsured In The Central Valley Eager For Health Care Reform
The California Bridge to Reform promises a sea change in health care for indigent adults who are lucky enough to get into the program in the next year. The Bridge to Reform is a $10 billion program that will transition low-income residents in California to a Medicare-like health coverage before the 2014 federal health care coverage mandate kicks in (Moran, 9/22).

New Hampshire Public Radio: Bill Would Reopen Budget
House lawmakers are considering a bill to cut $35 million from the budget. ... They're also debating a plan to strip the Department of Health and Human Services of its responsibility to create a new Medicaid program. Washington is likely to fine the Department of Health and Human Services $35 million for mismanagement of healthcare funds back in 2004 (Gorenstein, 9/21).  

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