KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Roundup: Concerns About State Employee Retirement Boom

Stateline: Is The State Retirement Boom Finally Here?
Plummeting stock portfolios and home values prompted many Baby Boomers to keep working long after retirement age. ... "What was once a planned exit is no longer a planned exit," says Daniel Hackler, Indiana's state personnel director. "There's this dam of older folks." This unpredictability has made the challenge of transferring knowledge to younger workers and planning for future workforce needs in specialized areas, such as information technology and health care, more daunting, but also more critical (Maynard, 5/9). 

News Service Florida: Legislature Sends Massive Medicaid Overhaul To Scott
Arguing that the proposal will save tax dollars and improve patient care, Republican lawmakers Friday approved a massive overhaul of Florida's Medicaid system. The proposal, which has been debated for more than year, would eventually shift hundreds of thousands of poor and elderly beneficiaries into HMOs and other types of managed-care plans. Supporters say that would hold down spiraling costs in the $20 billion program, while also improving a fragmented system of care (Saunders, 5/6).

The Associated Press/Miami Herald: Fla. Lawmakers Pass Historic Medicaid Overhaul
The bills inject sorely needed accountability into a statewide managed care program that has faltered in its current state in five pilot counties. The plan's detractors say for-profit providers are making money scrimping on patient care. Patients have complained they couldn't get appointments with specialists. Several providers pulled out of the program, causing lapses in care as patients were bounced among plans (Kennedy and Kallestad, 5/6).

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

Kansas Health Institute News: Dip In Tobacco Money Complicates The Budget Problem
An unforeseen decline in the dollars collected by the state from the nation's major tobacco companies contributed to the impasse this week as lawmakers failed to hammer out final details of a budget. About 20 children's programs depend on the Children's Initiatives Fund for financing. Included among them are Early Head Start, child care, and services for youngsters who are mentally ill. ... Kansas' tobacco revenues and interest earnings peaked in fiscal 2009 at $72.3 million (Cauthon and Shields, 5/6). 

The Connecticut Mirror: Incoming DDS Commissioner Plans To Increase Use Of Private Providers
The nominee to head the agency responsible for providing care to 19,000 people with intellectual disabilities in the state told legislators Friday he plans to increase the role private agencies play in providing care. ... Advocating for increased utilization of private providers in nothing new for [Terry Macy, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's nominee to head the $1 billion state agency], as he spent the last 20 years working for a shoreline nonprofit that delivers services to people with intellectual disabilities (Rabe, 5/6).

MinnPost: Minnesota Health Care Waivers Still Unlikely After Sen. Hann's D.C. visit
State Sen. David Hann, R-Eden Prarie, didn't have much progress to report following his trip to Washington, D.C., this week to investigate the possibility of getting several federal health care waivers to help ease Minnesota's $5 billion budget deficit. ... Hann, chairman of the state Senate Health and Human Services Committee, put forward a proposal this session that aims to cut $1.8 billion in HHS spending over the next biennium. Budget cuts totaling hundreds of millions of dollars rely on these waivers, which would exempt Minnesota from certain federal mandates (Nord, 5/6).

The Lund Report (Oregon): Psychologists Continue Push For Prescribing Rights
Psychologists are attempting to pass legislation allowing them to prescribe psychotropic drugs after Governor Ted Kulongoski vetoed such a bill in 2009. This is their fifth try. House Bill 3523 continues to receive fierce opposition and lobbying pressure from the Oregon Pediatric Society, the Oregon Psychiatric Association and the Oregon Medical Association. Because of its $290,000 fiscal impact, the bill needs approval from the Joint Ways and Means Committee, and a hearing has not been scheduled (Waldroupe, 5/6).

Related, earlier KHN story: For People With Mental Health Issues, Care Is Often Elusive (Andrews, 3/21).

Modern Healthcare: HHS Offers Flexibility To Southern States After Storms
In response to the severely destructive tornadoes and storms in the South, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius sent a letter to the governors of Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee to explain options those states have to hasten Medicaid eligibility for those who may need healthcare services but can't pay for it (Zigmond, 5/7).

The Arizona Republic: Maricopa County Jail To Upgrade Medical Records
Maricopa County will install an electronic medication system for its sprawling inmate-health-care organization to help eliminate paper records and ensure patients receive the proper medicine. The new system, recently approved by the Board of Supervisors, is the first step to installing a larger electronic medical-records system to help bring county jails up to modern standards and, county officials hope, resolve lingering issues with unconstitutional care (Wingett Sanchez, 5/9).

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.