KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Roundup: Opposition To Calif. Health Insurance Regulation Bill

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

Sacramento Bee: California Health Insurance Rate Bill Faces Growing Opposition
Supporters of controversial legislation to give state regulators power to approve, deny or modify changes in health insurance rates have returned from their summer recess to find added opposition as they push for its passage before the session wraps up. Gov. Jerry Brown's finance officials came out against Assembly Bill 52 at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing this week, raising concerns about the costs of the rate-regulation proposal (Van Oot, 8/18). 

Kansas Health Institute News: Brownback Officials Host Final Medicaid Makeover Forum
Ranking members of Gov. Sam Brownback's administration hosted a fourth and final forum here today to collect suggestions from the public for a proposed Medicaid makeover. The event, held in a cavernous exhibition hall of the Overland Park Convention Center, was marred by a bad sound system and weak response from those who attended. But officials said they had already collected more than "1,600 individual ideas," at three previous meetings and a resulting plan will be made public probably in October (Shields, 8/17). 

Miami Herald: The Future For Miami-Dade County Employees: Lower Salaries, Or More Costly Health Benefits
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez's proposal to slash county spending by doubling employee contributions to their health insurance is set to be revamped. The new plan, coupled with previously announced salary reductions, would chop base pay for county workers between 11 and 21 percent. Under the revised proposal, a proposed 10 percent pre-tax healthcare contribution will be swapped for an 8-percent salary reduction. The mayor also is sticking by his pledge to erase pay increases granted by his predecessor, Carlos Alvarez, which were a 3 percent hike for most workers and a 13 percent jump for police (Haggman, 8/17). 

Georgia Health News: Grady Pick's Current Hospital Under Fire
The new CEO of Grady Memorial Hospital is coming from a Dallas facility that recently has been under intense federal scrutiny for patient safety problems. A federal agency, after an inspection in July, found conditions at Parkland Memorial Hospital that were an "immediate and serious threat"' to patient health and safety (Miller, 8/17). 

Kansas Health Institute News: Rural Kansas Doc Featured As National HIT Leader
Dr. Jen Brull - a family practice physician in the tiny western Kansas town of Plainville - has become the first doctor to be featured as an early adopter of electronic health records by the federal agency tasked with implementing health reform. ... Brull was the first physician in Kansas - if not in the country - to be federally certified for using electronic health records (8/17). 

(Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.) Star Tribune: Autistic Maple Grove Boy Wins Battle For Treatment Coverage
A 4-year-old boy from Maple Grove has won his legal battle to force the state of Minnesota to cover his family's expenses for an intensive form of autism treatment known as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). But the ruling stops short of requiring the state to routinely cover the treatment, which can cost up to $100,000 a year. The case has drawn scrutiny from Washington, D.C., to St. Paul because of questions about whether taxpayers should be paying for the treatment (Lerner, 8/17).

KQED/The California Report: Oakland Clinic Provides Medical Care to Ex-Offenders
Most former inmates leave California prisons with no consistent place to get medical care. Instead, they rely on a scattershot of county-funded clinics or end up at county emergency rooms. But in California, that's beginning to change. The state negotiated with the Obama administration to gain early access to funds available under the federal health law. Starting in last month, counties began enrolling all low-income residents -- including ex-offenders -- into a version of Medi-Cal (Varney, 8/17). 

Related, earlier KHN story: Health Care Expands For Ex-Offenders In California (Schmitt, 3/28). 

Stateline: Workers' Comp Systems Getting Stricter
States are changing the rules for employees claiming benefits as a result of injuries suffered on the job. ... Some of Montana's most significant and controversial changes pertain to the way medicine is practiced. Medical benefits are now capped at five years except when extensions are granted by a review panel of doctors. The idea is that 90 percent of injured workers reach "maximum medical improvement" within five years and shouldn't be able to rely on workers' comp as their primary form of medical care indefinitely (Maynard, 8/18). 

WBUR's CommonHealth blog: My Ultrasound: Three Tests, Three Pricetags
My doctor said I needed a pelvic ultrasound. Fine, I said. Do you know how much it'll cost? No idea, she said. But you can ask. ... I called each facility, and here are the prices I was quoted for a pelvic ultrasound: –Mass. General: $2847 or $2563 (more on this later) –Mt. Auburn: $971.96 –Diagnostic Ultrasound Associates: $516 (Zimmerman, 8/17). 

Forbes: Florida County Questions United Health Care Paying 5% Endorsement Fees To AARP
Federal regulators unveiled today a proposed new health insurance summary form which will give consumers greater information regarding the details of each policy. One large county in Florida has been pressing for greater disclosure to consumers of endorsement fees paid by health insurers. Disclosure to consumers of endorsement fees is as critical, in my opinion, as information regarding coverage and deductibles because ultimately such fees come out of their pockets. Unfortunately, it doesn't appear that the government's proposed summary form will shed any new light on this issue (Siedle, 8/17). 

Modern Healthcare: Mercy Health Unveils Plans For Joplin Hospital
Mercy Health System, Chesterfield, Mo., executives unveiled plans to spend up to $950 million to build a hospital and secondary campus in Joplin, Mo., to replace St. John's Regional Medical Center, which was destroyed by a tornado on May 22. The new hospital will be called St. John's Mercy Hospital, with a groundbreaking set for January 2012 and the opening of the hospital in 2014. The hospital will include 327 inpatient beds and a planned expansion to up to 424 beds, according to a news release (Barr, 8/17).

The New York Times: New York Moves To Crack Down On Abuse Of Disabled
The agreement covers the 126,000 developmentally disabled people who live in state and privately run group homes and institutions or who receive a variety of other services from the state. The plan has the potential to reshape how the state approaches enforcement against abuse of the developmentally disabled, though it remains to be seen how it is carried out and what force it has (Hakim, 8/17).

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