KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Roundup: Texas Disability Fight; Rights Of Fetus Asserted In Neb.

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

The New York Times / Texas Tribune: For Disabled, Cuts Could Affect Lifelong Improvement
For Milla Powell, a 12-year-old from Austin with cerebral palsy, the little things make all the difference. Massage therapy to ease her tightened muscles. Recreational programs, in which therapists take her into the community to help her build her social skills. Music therapy to help Milla, who cannot speak, connect without words. But services like these are on the chopping block for thousands of Texans with disabilities — another casualty of the significant budget cuts that state lawmakers passed in May (Ramshaw, 9/1).

The Connecticut Mirror: For Many Without Workplace Health Coverage, Premium Costs Rising
Federal health reform is supposed to give nearly all Americans access to health insurance by 2014, but for many without employer-sponsored insurance, the options until then are getting more costly. As of today, federal subsidies to help laid-off workers keep their health insurance have expired for nearly all recipients. ... The subsidy expiration coincides with an increase in premiums in the state's Charter Oak Health Plan, which was launched in 2008 as an affordable insurance option for adults who would otherwise have no coverage (Levin Becker, 9/1). 

The Associated Press/Omaha World-Herald: Pregnant Woman Sues Nebraska For Unborn Child Aid
A pregnant woman who was denied medical assistance because of her immigration status is suing the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, claiming that her unborn child is entitled to the benefit even if she isn't. The lawsuit by the group Nebraska Appleseed Center was filed on behalf of Sarah Roe, a 33-year-old who lives with her husband and three children in Lancaster County. Roe, who is about 9 months pregnant, applied for benefits under Nebraska's medical assistance program in April, according to the lawsuit in Lancaster County District Court. Her application was denied in June (Schulte, 9/1).

Minnesota Public Radio: New Study: Rural Minnesotans Suffer Chronic Disease More, Are Less Insured
Rural Minnesotans smoke more than their urban cousins. They're fatter. They exercise less. They die more frequently from diabetes, stroke and heart disease. More of them are uninsured. ... The report [from the Minnesota Department of Health] doesn't address why these differences exist, but analyst Paul Jansen, who put it together, says there could be a lot of factors. Access to primary care is one possibility (Peters, 9/1). 

WBUR's CommonHealth blog: What's Up With The Federal Waiver?
Joshua Archambault, Director of Health Care Policy at the local Pioneer Institute of Public Policy Research ... posts an intriguing question on the Institute's blog today: What’s going on with the federal (Medicaid) waiver that allowed Massachusetts to move forward with health reform in 2006? It’s been extended several times, he writes, but is there something happening behind the scenes that we should know about? (Zimmerman, 9/1).

(New Orleans) Times-Picayune: Louisiana Hires Magellan To Overhaul And Expand Mental Health Services For Medicaid patients Louisiana's state health agency Thursday tapped a publicly traded managed-care specialist to run an overhaul and expansion of mental health and addiction services for the state's Medicaid and uninsured populations. The impending contract for Magellan Health Services Inc. is part of Gov. Bobby Jindal's push to convert much of the Medicaid insurance system from the existing fee-for-service model to a system of coordinated-care networks (Barrow, 9/1).

(Minneapolis-St. Paul) Star Tribune:  State Tries To Rein In Psychiatric Drugs
Starting this fall, in an attempt to reduce misdiagnosis and overmedication, [Minnesota] will require primary care doctors to call a psychiatric hot line before prescribing heavy doses of antipsychotics or other drugs to children on state-funded health plans. Even though some primary care doctors admit they are in a poor position to diagnose and treat severe mental disorders, the Minnesota Council of Health Plans has found that they prescribe 80 percent of psychiatric drugs (Olson, 9/1).

Associated Press/(Minneapolis-St. Paul) Star Tribune:  Dayton Administration Expands Minn. Senior Hotline
Gov. Mark Dayton's administration has expanded a toll-free hotline for seniors beyond answering questions about health insurance and long-term care services. ... The service operated by the Minnesota Board on Aging can now field questions about all government services and plans to add information on volunteering and job openings soon (9/1).

MinnPost: KARE 11's Prostate-Cancer Screening At State Fair Revives Debate
Medical writer Gary Schwitzer's concern is that men who are tested there may not know that such screening's harms (unnecessary treatment) may outweigh its benefits.  ...  [P]rostate cancer screening isn't simply a matter of "Drop the corn dog, cheese curds or hot-dish-on-a-stick and have a PSA test." But that's the way it comes across (Perry, 9/1).

Los Angeles Times: Authorities Raid Suspected 'Prescription Mills'
Federal and local law enforcement officials on Thursday raided four medical clinics in the San Fernando Valley suspected of operating as "prescription mills" that catered to addicts seeking heroin-like painkillers and other drugs (Girion, 9/2).

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