KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Roundup: Texas Legislator Seeks To Force Vote On ‘Health Care Compact’

Georgia Health News: Meetings Show Health Care Not Stuck In Neutral
Two Atlanta gatherings Monday showed that health care isn't waiting around for whatever happens to the 2010 reform law. Gov. Nathan Deal's committee on health exchanges met at the state Capitol for introductions and background on their task. ... Ryan Teague, deputy executive counsel for the governor, said the health reform law is "a heavyhanded approach to expanding Medicaid." But he told the exchange committee that however undesirable the Affordable Care Act may be, "we have to deal with reality" and not ignore the law's existence (Miller, 6/6). 

Dallas Morning News: Key Texas House Republican May Force Senate To Take Stand On 'Health Care Compact'
The House's chief health policy writer may force the Senate's hand on a controversial "health care compact" bill that would try to turn Medicaid and Medicare into block grant programs run by the states. A House panel advanced Rep. Lois Kolkhorst's stand-alone interstate compact bill Monday, but Kolkhorst said afterward that she may attach the bill to a comprehensive health care measure the House is scheduled to debate Wednesday. The larger bill is considered necessary for the state's next two-year budget to be balanced (Garrett, 6/6).

Kansas Health Institute News: Changes Underway At SRS
State welfare officials say they've found a way to give a pay raise to the in-home caregivers for elderly or disabled Medicaid beneficiaries while at the same time, lowering the program's administrative costs. ... Officials at the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services and the Kansas Department on Aging jointly announced the policy change last week. It becomes effective Sept. 1. ... People with disabilities and the frail elderly are eligible for Medicaid-funded, in-home services if they are poor and if without the services they likely would move to a nursing home. They have the option of letting a home-health agency hire and pay their caregivers or hiring the caregivers themselves (Ranney, 6/6). 

The Connecticut Mirror: Senate Passes SustiNet Compromise Bill
A compromise bill on the proposed SustiNet state-run insurance plan passed the Senate 22 to 14 Monday, clearing the way for Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's signature. ... The bill does not commit the state to offering insurance to the public, although it does not rule it out. Instead, it establishes an advisory board called the SustiNet Health Care Cabinet to address health policy issues, including an examination of alternatives to private insurance, and an Office of Health Reform and Innovation to coordinate state and federal health reform efforts. The bill also includes elements of a "pooling" proposal (Levin Becker, 6/6). 

The Boston Globe: Study Finds Slight Decline In ER Use Among Patients With 'Low-Severity' Problems
Emergency room visits have been on the rise in Massachusetts since the passage of the 2006 health law, much to the chagrin of supporters who projected that the opposite would happen as more people had insurance and were connected with primary care providers. A new study published online by the Annals of Emergency Medicine shows that the issue may be a bit more nuanced. While overall emergency room visits increased about 4.1 percent between 2006 and 2008, visits among patients who are poor or uninsured using the emergency room for "low-severity" issues fell slightly, by about 1.8 percent (Conaboy, 5/6).

The Miami Herald: Prescription For Healthcare Shopping: Take Two Aspirins And Call Me In The Morning
Americans, even with employer-provided health insurance, see their own out-of-pocket costs continuing to rise, often in ways that don't seem to make sense. And those who try to decode healthcare pricing can find the process frustrating and fruitless. (Jim and Shirley Abraham) ended up in a battle with Jackson Memorial because the public hospital jacked the price up when the staff realized they had insurance. In another case, a Miami lawyer found that, because of an insurer's technical requirements, he would have paid six times more at Baptist for a test than he did at Mercy, even though both hospitals were in-network (Dorschner, 6/6). 

California Healthline: Innovative Dental Idea Goes Outside the Box
One-fourth of children younger than age 12 in California have never even been to the dentist, according to a new Pew Center on the States report that gives California a grade of "C" for the dental health of its children. ... California's reimbursement rates for Medi-Cal are among the lowest in the nation, which causes reluctance to care for Medi-Cal patients among many providers. That access problem will not be helped by the state's plan to further reduce rates by 10% (Gorn, 6/6). 

California Healthline: Health Reform Legislation Regularly Assailed
Last week's deadline to get legislation through the Assembly and Senate saw a number of big-ticket health care proposals make their way through the Legislature -- including one bill to regulate rate hikes by health insurers, and another to launch a new kind of basic health care insurance program in California. Many of the health-related proposals -- especially ones that had anything to do with meeting federal guidelines for implementation of the federal health reform law in 2014 -- met with resistance, skepticism and sometimes derision (Gorn, 6/6). 

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