KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Mass. Gov. Again Seeks Health Insurance Payment Overhaul

Articles detail the Massachusetts state of the state address, efforts in Iowa to probe denials in the high risk pool and other legislative news.

Boston Globe: Patrick Seeks Broad Changes For Community Colleges
Beyond the community college proposal, Patrick introduced just two other initiatives: a health insurance payment overhaul and a criminal sentencing package, both of which he has previously supported. ... The governor also touted the state's success in curbing health insurance rate increases, from an average of 16.3 percent two years ago to 2.3 percent this year (Bierman and Phillips, 1/24).

WBUR: Patrick Outlines Initiatives In State Of The State Address
To address the rising cost of health care, the governor once again called on the Legislature to pass a bill he filed last year aimed at cost containment. "We need to put an end to the 'fee-for-service' model. We need to stop paying for the amount of care, and start paying for the quality of care," Patrick said. While the governor wants the Legislature to take up health care cost containment before they debate the state budget, both Senate President Therese Murray and Speaker Robert DeLeo indicated it may take more time (Brown, 1/24).

Des Moines Register: Health Reform Exchange Bill Introduced
A bill to create an Iowa health insurance exchange was introduced in the Senate Monday but will go nowhere unless the governor takes some initiative to assist with the effort, a key Democrat behind the effort said. ... Gov. Terry Branstad, an opponent of the federal health law, has accepted a $7 million grant to help implement parts of the exchange (Clayworth, 1/23).

Des Moines Register: Health Care Denied To Iowa HIV Patients Fuels Insurance Review
Two state senators say they are reviewing options to either fire the administrators or shutter a $35 million state program charged with insuring Iowans with pre-existing conditions because of the program's ongoing denial of coverage to an estimated 100 HIV-positive residents (Clayworth, 1/23).

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Bill Would Eliminate Costly Difference Between Oral, IV Chemotherapy
The legislation is backed by a coalition of advocacy groups, such as the American Cancer Society and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, as well as Columbia St. Mary's Health System, Marshfield Clinic and the Medical College of Wisconsin. The proposed bill is opposed by health insurers who contended it will drive up the cost of health insurance. "The impact will fall the hardest on small employers, who can least afford higher premiums and rely more on employee cost sharing to hold down premiums," the Wisconsin Association of Health Plans said in an issue brief (Boulton, 1/23).

Kansas Health Institute News: Senator Calls For Delay Of Governor's KanCare Plan
Sen. Dick Kelsey today called on the administration of Gov. Sam Brownback to delay and modify its plan to remake the Kansas Medicaid program. "Eleven hundred questions by the possible bidders to a 170-page (contract proposal) show that even the professionals don't understand what is being suggested, let alone the providers of Medicaid services and those receiving those services," the Goddard Republican said (Shields, 1/23). 

The Associated Press/Houston Chronicle: W.Va. Lawmakers Propose Fix To Autism Coverage Law
West Virginia legislators have begun the process of fixing a new law addressing insurance coverage for children with autism. ... Some of the errors leave the law's coverage limits unclear. Lawmakers say the flaws are mostly minor, but together they make the law difficult to carry out (1/24).

California Healthline: Senate Sends Ombudsman Bill to Assembly
The state Senate yesterday passed SB 345 by Lois Wolk (D-Davis), a bill designed to give more independence and power to the Long-Term Care Ombudsman program. It now heads to the Assembly for committee and floor approval (Gorn, 1/24).

California Healthline: Bill Would Explore New Tier Of Dental Provider For California
This week, the California Senate will consider a previously non-controversial bill aimed at improving dental care for underserved children. ... The bill's two main components would: Create a statewide office of oral health, led by a dentist, that would help California get federal money for subsidized dental programs; and Authorize a project to explore new workforce training and delivery models with the goal of providing oral care for underserved children (Lauer, 1/23).

The Miami Herald: Lawmakers To Debate Abortion
The House and Senate are both at work on Day 15 of the Legislature in session. Here's what we are following: Abortion: A House panel is scheduled to take up bills restricting abortions in the third trimester, always a hot ideological topic (DeCamp, 1/24).

The Lund Report (an Oregon news service): Legislators Express Concern About Non-Discrimination of Provider Groups
When the House Health Care Committee met earlier this week, concern was raised about how non-discrimination language would impact provider groups wanting to participate in coordinated care organizations (CCOs). Starting in July, these CCOs are expected to integrate the physical, mental and dental care for more than 600,000 people on the Oregon Health Plan. ... That legislative concept contains language prohibiting CCOs from disallowing particular provider groups from being a part of CCOs (Waldroupe, 1/23).

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