KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Roundup: Planned Parenthood, Ariz. Reach Interim Agreement

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

The Arizona Republic: Arizona Abortion Law Challenge Goes On
Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Richard Gama this week signed off on an agreement between Planned Parenthood and the state that allows most of the 2011 regulations to go into effect while the legal challenge continues. … To comply with the new regulations, Planned Parenthood eliminated abortion services in Flagstaff, Yuma and Prescott Valley. A shortage of doctors in the state trained or willing to perform abortions forced the reduction in services. This week's agreement does delay implementation of a few of the 2011 regulations, including those that would require a doctor to be present for postoperative monitoring or require staff to monitor a patient's vital signs. Howard said that regulation didn't make sense in situations of medication abortion in which the woman takes two pills, the second at home (Beard Rau, 8/24).

Kansas Health Institute News: SRS To Release Plan For Cutting Budget
Later this week, the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services will release its plan for cutting more than $43 million from its budget. ... [Sen. Laura Kelly, D-Topeka] Kelly asked SRS officials to comment on recent reports that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is close to citing Kansas for not doing enough to protect the rights of disabled people and that the U.S. Department of Justice is considering filing a lawsuit against the state (Ranney, 8/23). 

California Healthline: Committee Chair Asks for Four-Month Delay of ADHC Elimination
Assembly member Mariko Yamada (D-Davis) called yesterday for a temporary delay of the scheduled Dec. 1 elimination date for adult day services as a Medi-Cal benefit. She wants that date to be extended to Mar. 31. ... The state Department of Health Care Services is trying ... to move most of those [36,000] recipients into managed care programs by Oct. 1, so those managed care plans can conduct assessments on many of those patients and make sure their services are in place before the Dec. 1 benefit cut-off date (Gorn, 8/23).

(Milwaukee, Wis.) Journal Sentinel: Health Insurance Premiums For State Workers Decline
The Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds, which oversees health and retiree benefits for state employees, said Tuesday that health insurance premiums for the majority of state workers would decline by 3.3% next year. The program covers more than 183,000 state employees, retirees and their dependents. About 30,000 retirees and their dependents buy supplemental coverage on their own through the state. The state does not subsidize the cost. The drop in premiums - the first ever - stems partly from the budget-repair law enacted earlier this year (Boulton, 8/23).

The Associated Press/Houston Chronicle: Mich. Panel Oks Public Worker Health Plan Changes
Many public employees with Michigan schools and local governments would face higher bills for health care coverage under a revised plan approved Tuesday by a legislative committee and awaiting final votes in the state Legislature. A Republican-led conference committee made up of House and Senate members approved the plan by a party-line vote. Similar results are likely when final votes are held on the measure in the Michigan Legislature, which could happen as early as Wednesday (Martin, 8/23).

Los Angeles Times: California Mental Hospitals Are Dangerous, Legislators Told
At an Assembly committee hearing on safety issues at the state's mental hospitals, lawmakers Tuesday received testimony about faulty alarm systems, daily assaults and an increasing number of patients with criminal histories (Romney, 8/24).

Detroit Free Press: Michigan Health, Education Group Pushes State-Run Health Insurance
A Michigan health and education coalition today launched an all-out back-to-school campaign to enroll children in two state-run health insurance programs. The campaign aims to enroll as many of the state's 127,000 uninsured children in the programs. Enrollment teams at schools and hospitals in target communities will use a simplified enrollment process to screen families. The campaign also is offering a $10 gift card to anyone who refers a child for coverage, through at least Sept. 30 (Anstett, 8/23). 

Bloomberg: California $382,519 Prison Doctor Shows Budget Gaps Don't Bar Big Salaries
[Dr. Jeffrey] Wang made $382,519 in 2010, including overtime and extra- duty compensation. He was one of almost 100 doctors, dentists and other medical practitioners in the state who got at least $300,000 last year to work behind bars, according to the controller's office. California prison doctors earn more than counterparts in New York, Texas and Florida, data compiled by Bloomberg show (Marois, 8/23). 

The Connecticut Mirror: Waterbury Hospital To Merge With St. Mary's, Private Group
Waterbury Hospital announced Tuesday that it would join a joint venture between St. Mary's Hospital and a private Texas hospital group, moving forward with long-contemplated plans to merge the city's two hospitals. Under the planned joint venture, which must receive regulatory approval, both hospitals would be replaced by a new medical center, an investment of $400 million (Levin Becker, 8/23). 

The Lund Report (Oregon): Governor-Appointed Work Group Lays Foundation for Reform
A group of 40 stakeholders from 15 Oregon counties representing mental, physical and oral health came together to form the Coordinated Care Organization (CCO) Criteria Work Group last Thursday. ... Established by the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), it's among four work groups charged with developing an Oregon Integrated and Coordinated Healthcare Delivery System (Thomas, 8/24). 

HealthyCal: Clinic Helps Chronic ER Visitors Get Healthy 
Living on the streets is tough. Living on the streets with a chronic medical illness like Crohn's disease is even tougher. 52-year-old Steven Macko experienced this harsh reality four years ago when he was evicted from his apartment in Lincoln California. ... Through a Sacramento-based program called T3, Macko was placed in permanent housing. ... T3, which stands for triage, transport and treatment, was designed by the Effort and Sutter Medical Center Sacramento in 2007 in response to the overwhelmed state of emergency departments in the region, when ERs were reaching capacity and shutting their doors (Walker, 8/23). 

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