KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State News: Fla. Lawmakers To Vote Today On Medicaid Changes

News Service of Florida: 'Transformational' Medicaid Overhaul Set For Passage
With a sponsor calling it the "most significant transformational change" since Florida's Medicaid program started, lawmakers will vote Friday on a long-awaited proposal to shift almost all beneficiaries into managed-care plans. Senate leaders on Thursday unveiled the proposal --- which covers 215 pages over two bills --- after days of behind-the-scenes negotiations with the House (Saunders, 5/5). 

Related, earlier KHN story: Insurers Clash With Health Providers As States Expand Medicaid Managed Care (Galewitz, 4/27). 

Los Angles Times: California Supreme Court Addresses Legal Deadlines For Tobacco Lawsuits
Smokers may sue the tobacco industry once they develop a disease like lung cancer, even if they suffered different smoking-related ailments years earlier, the California Supreme Court ruled unanimously Thursday (Dolan, 5/6).

NPR: Dozens Of Questionable Deaths Seen In Assisted Care
In Florida, state regulators are failing to protect residents of assisted living facilities, according to an investigation by The Miami Herald and NPR member station WLRN. An analysis of state records revealed dozens of questionable deaths in assisted living facilities (Malone, 5/6).

Bloomberg: Illinois Democrats Enrage Public-Worker Unions With Drive To Tame Pensions
In Illinois, which has underfunded pensions for decades, Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan has suggested cutting benefits. Senate President John Cullerton is backing a bill to make retirees pay premiums for health care and to force school districts to shoulder more teacher-retirement costs. Lawmakers may act before the session ends in three weeks (Jones, 5/6). 

The Associated Press/Boston Globe: House Gives 1st OK To Maine Health Care Overhaul
The Maine House on Thursday gave initial approval to a health care overhaul bill by a narrow margin amid objections that some lawmakers were being rushed to judgment on a complex measure that they were still studying. The bill seeks to ease state regulations and open the health insurance market to more competition (Adams, 5/5). 

National Journal: Florida House Targets Individual Mandate
The Florida House passed a proposed constitutional amendment on Wednesday that would exempt the state from implementing a key part of the federal health care law -- the requirement that everyone have health insurance or pay a fine (Fung, 5/5). 

The Connecticut Mirror: Agencies Welcome Chance To Join State Health Plan -- At The Right Price
State leaders are poised to allow nonprofits to buy insurance through the state employee health plan. ... [Many nonprofit leaders] have lobbied for the chance to buy their health insurance through the state employee and retiree plan, hoping that it would give them another coverage option. Being part of a larger risk pool could remove the fluctuations in cost that can occur when even a few employees in a small pool have major medical problems, they say (Levin Becker, 5/5).

The Connecticut Mirror: As Nursing Facilities Close, Officials Hope To Move Residents Back Home
With four nursing homes across the state set to close in the coming weeks, those responsible for figuring out where the more than 300 residents will move to are hoping to return as many as possible to their homes with continuing state support (Rabe, 5/5).

California Healthline: Exchange Timeline Runs From Ambitious To Over The Top
It's now well-known that California is the first state to pass legislation to set up a Health Benefit Exchange as called for through the federal health reform law. Given the complex nature and large scope of California's health care system, it's a good thing the state got started quickly, state officials have been saying, because California may need every moment of time between now and Jan. 1, 2014, to organize the thing. "There are five key deliverables," according to Katie Marcellus, assistant secretary for the state's Health and Human Services Agency (Gorn, 5/5).

California Healthline: Intermediate Care Facilities Catch a Break
A U.S. District Court judge this week issued a ruling that temporarily prohibits California from freezing Medi-Cal reimbursement rates for intermediate care facilities that care for residents with developmental disabilities. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program. A permanent ruling is expected soon, possibly by the end of the week. However, even the temporary stay is a big victory for developmental services providers and their patients, according to Deborah Pacyna of the California Association of Health Facilities (Gorn, 5/5).

Minneapolis Star Tribune: New Website For HMO Junkies
Responding to concerns that the state's HMOs are too secretive about their contracts and profits from big state health programs, the state has launched a new website rich with financial data, care-quality measurements and other information on the plans that cover 580,000 low-income Minnesotans. "Minnesotans deserve full disclosure of how their taxpayer dollars are spent for health care," said Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson. "This website provides that information in a one-stop shop. We want to make this a user-friendly tool" (Wolfe, 5/5).

The Arizona Republic: Doctors, Nurses Rally Against Anti-Immigration Legislation
About 300 doctors, nurses and other health professionals from across the nation gathered Thursday afternoon at the Arizona Capitol to protest Senate Bill 1070 and other anti-immigration measures. … The protest was an unofficial part of a national medical conference being held in Phoenix this week. Participants said anti-immigration laws make patients afraid to seek medical care, putting themselves at risk of becoming even more ill and exposing the entire community to untreated infectious diseases (Beard Rau, 5/5). 

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