KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Roundup: States’ Economic Success Often Beyond Their Control

Stateline: Do States Control Their Fiscal Destiny? Not As Much As They May Think
State leaders love to make promises about healing a sick economy. Often, though, economic success depends on factors far beyond their influence. ... When It comes to Medicaid, the restrictions largely emanate from the federal budget. ... Those federal restrictions on Medicaid will only increase as the federal health care law goes into effect. In many ways, that law is a great deal for the states. ... The key question is whether there's a way to provide this additional care without spending more money (Goodman, 5/23).

The Connecticut Mirror: Health Care Deal Could Save Money, But Skeptics Question How Soon
The agreement between state employee unions and the Malloy administration counts on a nearly 10 percent savings in employee and retiree health care costs in the first year from changing the way the benefits plan is designed. ... But some observers are skeptical about the prospect of achieving immediate savings on the scale assumed in the agreement. The plan counts on people using more preventive services, which can identify diseases early and potentially save money in the long run, but can themselves increase health care spending up front (Levin Becker, 5/20). 

The New York Times: U.S. Objects To New Law On Clinics In Indiana
The Obama administration is raising serious objections to a new Indiana law that cuts off state and federal money for Planned Parenthood clinics providing health care to low-income women on Medicaid. The objections set the stage for a clash between the White House and Gov. Mitch Daniels, a Republican, over an issue that ignites passions in both parties (Pear, 5/22).

The Texas Tribune: No Clear Signals On Budget, UT/TT Poll Finds
Four months of hearing about the state's budget problems haven't changed the minds of Texas voters. According to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll, registered voters still want lawmakers to cut the budget, but they still oppose the major cuts in education and health and human services that cutting the budget requires. ... 90 percent don't want to cut the Children's Health Insurance Program; 86 percent say no to cutting payments to Medicaid providers like doctors and hospitals; 93 percent want to avoid cuts to nursing home funding ... [The [poll] was conducted May 11 to 18 and has a margin of error of +/- 3.46 percent (Ramsey, 5/23). 

The Texas Tribune: Feds Warn TX Health Care Changes Could Harm Consumers
The Federal Trade Commission is warning that one of the key health care reform bills trumpeted by Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, earlier in the session could substantially harm consumers. In response to a request from Rep. Elliott Naishtat, D-Austin, the FTC released a letter saying the antitrust exemption for health care collaboratives in Senate Bill 8 "poses a substantial risk of consumer harm, by increasing costs and decreasing access to health care." Senate Bill 8 gives the Health and Human Services Commission permission to test various performance-based payment programs in order to increase efficiency and find ways to link payment to improved patient outcome (Aaronson, 5/20). 

Minnesota Public Radio: Cuts To Training Could Lead To Doctor Shortage In Rural Minn.
The legislature has proposed cutting nearly 90 percent of the funding for Medical Education Research Costs (MERC). The MERC fund, created in 1996, provides about $60 million a year to hospitals and clinics throughout the state to help cover the costs of training medical students. Educators say the funds have helped the state cope with an aging population and a shortage of primary care providers, by attracting medical students to clinics in rural Minnesota. ... Both the governor and Republican lawmakers have said cuts are needed to fix the state's $5 billion projected budget deficit (Baran, 5/20).

Georgia Health News: State Says It's Meeting Mental Health Timeline
Georgia is on track in delivering promised changes for people with mental illness and developmental disabilities, a state official said Friday. The state promised to revitalize community services as part of a landmark 2010 settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice over problems in Georgia's mental health system. ... In the settlement, Georgia pledged to establish community services, including supported housing, for about 9,000 people with mental illness, and to create community support and crisis intervention teams to help people with developmental disabilities and mental illness avoid hospitalization (Miller, 5/21).

MSNBC/Reuters: Dentists Hesitate To Treat Kids On Medicaid: Study
Dentists were less willing to see kids who needed an emergency appointment if they were covered by Medicaid than if they had private insurance in a new study based in Cook County, Illinois. Even dental practices that were enrolled in the state's Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program were more willing to treat a kid with private insurance than one enrolled in the state's plan for low-income families according to the findings, which are published in Pediatrics (5/23).

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: 21 MPS Nurses Likely To Lose Jobs
Gov. Scott Walker eliminated a $1.5 million state grant in the state biennial budget that supported the 21 full-time nurse positions, and the Milwaukee School Board has not proposed bringing back those positions with district funds. The disappearing school nurse is not solely an MPS problem - districts elsewhere have sliced school nursing positions to save money - but it's concerning to some because the largely low-income and minority students have serious health issues, such as high rates of asthma and diabetes. Generally, the children have less access to quality health care than their higher-income peers (Richards, 5/21). 

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Study Touts Family Care
In a bid to thaw Gov. Scott Walker's proposed freeze on enrollments in the state's popular Family Care program, service providers are touting a study they commissioned that says the program is cheaper than other alternatives. The study was done for the Wisconsin Family Care Association, made up of public and private firms that arrange for services for frail elderly and adults with disabilities served through the program. The review says the state is saving nearly $90 million a year by serving clients in Family Care when compared with a separate services program (Schultze, 5/22). 

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