KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

State Highlights: Western Colo. Health Premiums Rise 26%; Fla. HIV Cases Swell

News outlets report on health care developments in Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Washington, Kansas, New York, Hawaii, Arizona, Maryland and Minnesota.

The Denver Post: Colorado Mountain Residents Struggle To Pay For Health Insurance
The new era of affordable health care bypassed Terri Newland. She runs a small land-use planning business with her husband, who has diabetes and needs hearing aids. She lives in one of the most expensive places anywhere to get medical care. For people buying their own policies, health insurance premiums in her western Colorado region jumped by an average of 25.8 percent this year. Her premium costs alone shot up more than $300 to $1,828 per month, or nearly $22,000 a year. Her policy also contains a $4,000 deductible each for her and her husband, and she's still trying to figure out what it will pay when he needs medical equipment. (Olinger, 1/24)

The Miami Herald: Florida Leads U.S. In New HIV Cases After Years Of Cuts In Public Health
Florida leads the nation in new HIV infections, but it’s not being treated as a crisis by Gov. Rick Scott or the state’s top health officer, Dr. John Armstrong. As the disease has spread, Scott and Armstrong have imposed four years of personnel cuts in the Department of Health that have shrunk the size of county health departments. State lawmakers are now asking whether the spending decisions have produced a sicker population in a state where HIV infections have risen each year since 2012 as they’ve declined across the country. (Bousquet and Auslen, 1/24)

The Chicago Tribune: State's Largest Human Service Provider Cutting 30 Programs Because Of Budget Mess
Nearly 5,000 people will lose services ranging from mental health counseling to senior day care after the state's largest social service provider said it will have to eliminate programs and lay off workers due to the state's ongoing budget impasse. Lutheran Social Services of Illinois said that the state owes it more than $6 million, and as a result, will have to shut down 30 programs and eliminate 750 positions. Programs that will be cut include treatment for drug and alcohol addition, housing for recently released prisoners and their families and a children’s shelter. (Bott, 1/25)

The Chicago Tribune: Rauner: 'No Good Excuse' For Latest Social Services Cuts
Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner said Monday that there is "no good excuse" for major cuts to social service programs that have resulted from the budget impasse, blaming Democrats he said could have struck a deal but are content to cause chaos in an effort to force a tax increase. The governor's comments came just days after Lutheran Social Services of Illinois, the state's largest social services agency, announced it would close 30 programs and cut 750 positions because it's owed more than $6 million by the state. (Garcia and Bott, 1/25)

The Kansas Health Institute News Service: Health Insurers Seek Authority to Sell Network-Only Plans
Some Kansas health insurers are seeking legal permission to sell network-only plans — with the help of the state’s top insurance regulator. The office of Kansas Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer supports a bill that would allow insurers to sell “exclusive provider organization,” or EPO, plans that provide no reimbursement for out-of-network health care except in the case of emergency. (Marso, 1/25)

The Associated Press: Hawaii Bill Would Make Doctors Treat Medicare Patients
Hawaii lawmakers are introducing a bill to require all doctors practicing in Hawaii to treat Medicare patients. Democratic House Speaker Joe Souki introduced the bill Friday, saying it would ensure that all people get medical treatment, regardless of their income. Souki says that if passed, physicians who refused to take Medicare patients wouldn't be able to reapply for their state medical license, which must be renewed every two years. (Riker, 1/23)

The Associated Press: Arizona House Panel OKs Bill To Regulate Sober Living Homes
A House committee passed a bill Monday to regulate sober living homes after hearing testimony from Prescott residents about problems the homes are creating in their communities. Rep. Noel Campbell, R-Prescott, is pushing new standards for sober living homes even as Gov. Doug Ducey vows to cut regulations and the Legislature passes measures to take control away from cities and towns. (Velzer, 1/26)

The Baltimore Sun: Future Of Chestertown Hospital In Question
Susan DeSimone has visited the hospital in Chestertown so many times "she could drive there blindfolded." She and her husband moved to the Heron Point retirement community in 2013 in large part because it was just blocks from the University of Maryland Shore Medical Center at Chestertown. ... The DeSimones and others in this town of about 5,300 on the Eastern Shore have been worried about the hospital ever since learning that University of Maryland Shore Regional Health, which oversees the medical center, might be considering turning it into an outpatient care center. (McDaniels, 1/24)

The Baltimore Sun: Baltimore City Helping Residents Get To Medical Care Facilities
Baltimore Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen said city staffers have been working with local, state and private partners to make sure residents get life-sustaining medical care [following the weekend snowstorm]. Patients needing important medical treatments, such as kidney dialysis, are being transported by fire truck and the National Guard as snow-covered roads continue to create hazardous driving conditions. In Baltimore for example, the fire department and National Guard are traveling down rough roads to pick up patients and take them to Maryland Transit Administration vehicles. (Puente, 1/25)

The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal: Lawmakers Seek Answers On Computer System Delays
Lawmakers are seeking assurances a computerized system to determine eligibility for state social service and Medicaid programs that has been fraught with delays will eventually be completed. The Kansas Eligibility Enforcement System, or KEES, has experienced numerous setbacks and is now more than 2½ years behind schedule — and set to exceed its original budget by at least $46 million. (Shoreman, 1/23)

The St. Cloud (Minn.) Times: Genetic Testing Reveals Risks, Raises Questions
It takes more than one hand to count the number of women in the Hansen family diagnosed with breast cancer. Joan Willenbring. Her mother. Her grandmother. Her aunt. Her first cousin. Her twin sister. Yes, the family drew a bad ticket in the genetic lottery. Willenbring and her siblings witnessed the death of their 56-year-old mother, who moved from a breast cancer diagnosis to death in just 13 months. (Dickrell, 1/24)

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