KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Roundup: Health Insurance Ruling Reverberates; Calif.’s Aging Issues

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

Politico Pro: Florida To Keep Latest ACA Funds
The state has returned millions in health reform dollars for child and elder care programs, among other things. But on Monday, HHS awarded the Sunshine State $1.26 million in ACA money to bolster efforts to report and combat infectious diseases. And this time, Florida health officials intend to spend it. Florida officials refuse to accept health reform funding that will entangle the state in its implementation, Brian Burgess, Gov. Rick Scott's communications director, wrote in an email to POLITICO. "However, there are some instances where funding for existing programs has been tucked into the Affordable Care Act" (Norman, 8/16). 

Modern Healthcare: 'Most-Favored Nation' Deals Inhibit Market: Judge
In a case that could be duplicated in other states around the country, a judge for the U.S. District Court in Detroit has issued a ruling declaring that a dominant insurer's contracts guaranteeing it the lowest prices for health care services inhibit the free market by harming the insurer's competitors. The Justice Department and the state of Michigan sued Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan last year, alleging that the insurer's use of "most favored nation" clauses in contracts were illegally restraining free competition and driving up overall prices for health care in the state (Carlson, 8/15). 

The Seattle Times: State To Pursue Liens On Estates For Medicaid
For the first time, Washington state officials will pursue liens against Medicaid patients' estates to recover the cost of their long-term care - even if they have deeded their homes to relatives or others. The new law, which applies to all such property transfers made after June 30, closes a long-standing loophole that some Medicaid patients have used to keep their family homes out of the state's reach. ... the changes could pose dilemmas for homeowners who expect to seek Medicaid coverage someday for long-term care (Song, 8/16).

HealthyCal: Poll: Californians Ill-Prepared For The Costs Of Aging
California's population is aging, but most older adults underestimate how likely they are to need help with daily living as they grow older, and few are prepared to handle the potential cost, which can be huge. This disconnect has implications not only for individuals, who risk being left penniless and still needing care, but also for the government and for taxpayers, who eventually will have to pay for nursing homes for people whose medical and long-term care bills leave them impoverished (Weintraub, 8/16). 

California Healthline: Assembly ADHC Hearing Offers All Sides
The Assembly Committee on Aging and Long-Term Care is holding a hearing today on ADHC -- its importance to Californians, the reasons for its elimination as a Medi-Cal benefit, the details of transition for about 35,000 ADHC patients and the pending legal decision that could either approve or reject that state transition plan. Department of Health Care Services Director Toby Douglas will ... outline the state's plan (Gorn, 8/16). 

California Watch: Housing Program For Mentally Ill Struggles In Rural Counties
Sacramento's Martin Luther King Jr. Village, where 30 one-bedroom houses are dedicated to formerly homeless tenants suffering mental illness ... is just one of 21 projects statewide that house 220 formerly homeless mental health clients ... The projects are funded by $400 million set aside from the Mental Health Services Act, a 2004 voter initiative that taxes millionaires to pay for mental health services. ... the housing program, which has succeeded in many urban counties, is struggling to take off in several smaller rural ones (Lin, 8/16). 

Des Moines Register: Nursing Home Inspection Withheld From Public
The federal government is prohibiting the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals from releasing statistical information about nursing homes' failure to meet minimum standards of care. The state's inspections department says the problem is that the data it collects on nursing home violations belongs to the federal agency known as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS. That agency pays for a portion of the costs associated with Iowa's nursing home inspections and is now refusing to let the Iowa agency release certain information related to those inspections (Kauffman, 8/14). 

The Seattle Times: Regence BlueShield Fined By State For Denying IUD-Removal Coverage
A West Seattle woman's complaint has prompted the state insurance commissioner to fine Regence BlueShield $100,000 for denying contraceptive services to nearly 1,000 women. The fine comes in addition to nearly $150,000 Regence already spent reimbursing the women, whose claims were illegally denied over eight years (Ostrom, 8/15). 

The Associated Press/ Chicago Tribune: State Board Vote On Oak Forest Hospital Expected
An Illinois health planning board may reach a decision today affecting the fate of a charity hospital in Chicago's southern suburbs.  Cook County wants to close Oak Forest Hospital and convert it into an outpatient center (8/16).

Times-Picayune: Free Traveling Health Clinic Will Stop In New Orleans On Hurricane Katrina Anniversary
[As] many as 2,000 south Louisiana residents will spend the sixth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina getting a battery of health screenings and consultations as part of one of the most successful traveling free clinics in the country. The Aug. 29 event - the 11th of its kind nationally since The National Association of Free Clinics started the effort in 2009 - targets the uninsured and underinsured, with a special emphasis on anyone who has not received a medical examination recently (Barrow, 8/15).

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