KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Roundup: Vt. House Could Vote On Universal Health Care Today

The Associated Press/Boston Globe: Vermont House Slated To Finalize Health Care Bill
The House is slated Thursday to take up a conference committee report on a bill designed to put the state on the path to universal health care by 2017 if not sooner. The bill sets up a new Green Mountain Care Board to design a system to provide health insurance to every Vermont resident (5/5). 

Los Angeles Times: Proposals Would Cut Benefits For California Employees 25% To 40%
In a new financial analysis estimating the cutbacks, the nonprofit California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility warned that rising costs of public employee pensions and retiree healthcare could overwhelm the ability of taxpayers to fund many basic health, welfare and public safety services (Lifsher, 5/5).

Miami Herald: At Homes For The Mentally Ill, A Sweeping Breakdown In Care
The Miami Herald found dozens of the homes are so poorly run that residents are forced to languish without crucial needs -- including medication and psychiatric help -- leaving their care to police and rescue workers (Miller, Barry and Sallah, 5/4). 

Miami Herald: Dozens Of HIV Victims Protest Feared Cuts In Crucial Drug Programs
One after another they approached the microphone: dozens of HIV and AIDS patients at a public forum Tuesday held at Florida International University by the Florida Department of Health. Some yelled. Some cried. All were adamant about a possible department rule change that could make it extremely difficult for those earning more than $21,780 a year to receive state assistance for lifesaving drugs (Degnan, 5/4).

McClatchy / The (Columbia, S.C.) State: S.C. Lawmakers Want Generic Drugs For Cancer, HIV Treatment For Medicaid Patients
South Carolina state senators voted Tuesday to require the state's poorest residents to first try generic drugs to treat cancer, HIV/AIDS and mental illness if a generic is available. If the generic drugs are not effective, their doctor then could prescribe a name-brand drug. State spending on drugs for Medicaid recipients has been a hot topic this legislative session, particularly spending on atypical antipsychotic drugs that are used to treat a wide range of mental illnesses, including bipolar disorder and schizophrenia (Smith, 5/4). 

Miami Herald: UM Doctors Get Protection From Lawsuits
In a long-sought move, the University of Miami won a legislative victory on Wednesday when Florida lawmakers agreed to extend state lawsuit protection to university doctors working in public hospitals. Gov. Rick Scott will likely sign the bill into law. Scott is also expected to sign another lawsuit-limitation bill that passed Wednesday that changes the way people can sue automobile makers (Mazzei, 5/4). 

The Associated Press/Bloomberg Businessweek: Talk Of Special Session For Ariz. Legislature
There's also the possibility that lawmakers may have to revisit the state budget if projected big savings from scaling back eligibility for enrollment in the state Medicaid program gets hung up in court and don't materialize. … An upending of the Medicaid cutback before the 2012 regular session starts in January would virtually force a special session. That's because lawmakers relied on scaling back the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System's enrollment to produce more than $500 million of savings to help close a [projected] $1.1 billion shortfall in the budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 (Davenport, 5/4). 

California Healthline: More Emphasis Now on Mental Health Care
The California Senate Office of Research released a new policy brief this week that outlines some of the new ways mental health issues will need to be handled in California. ... Starting in 2014, private health plans will need to cover mental health; Health plans will be required to provide coverage for substance use disorder treatment by 2014; As part of a shift of responsibilities to county governments, Medi-Cal patients in most counties with serious and persistent mental illness or serious emotional disturbances are now typically referred to county care, at county mental health departments; and Poor, childless people without disabilities had been ineligible for Medi-Cal, but now will qualify for health benefits (Gorn, 5/4).

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