KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

GOP Candidates For California Governor Struggle With Budget Issues, Including Health Care

The Orange County Register: The two candidates in California's Republican gubernatorial primary, Steve Poizner and Meg Whitman, "agree on several budget fixes, including a spending cap, a hiring freeze, and reforms to welfare, pensions and prison health care." Both candidates seek to rid waste and create a leaner, more cost efficient budget, but cuts can come at a cost. "Reaction to Schwarzenegger's proposed budget revision this month indicates what the next governor is in for. His proposed reductions to education, mental health services, child-care for the poor, and programs for the elderly, blind and disabled have spurred a backlash – and the Democrat-controlled Legislature has responded by proposing tax hikes to minimize those sacrifices" (Wisckol, 5/30).

The Statesman Journal: "Oregon state workers are likely to face increased out-of-pocket expenses for health care as part of Gov. Ted Kulongoski's strategy for dealing with a $577 million shortfall in the current 2009-2011 state budget. These increases could take the form of higher deductibles and increased co-payments for certain procedures, according to the Oregon Public Employees' Benefit Board, or PEBB. PEBB has begun its annual negotiations with health care providers regarding plan renewals for 2011. The state is expected to spend this year an estimated $689 million on health coverage for more than 50,000 state workers, according to PEBB. The various insurance providers have offered 2011 rate estimates that amount to a 10.7 percent increase over this year's insurance rates, according to PEBB consultant Mercer" (Thompson, 5/31).

The Boston Globe: "A plan giving cities and towns more control over the rapidly escalating costs of health care benefits narrowly passed the state Senate yesterday, a step toward reforming a system that local officials say is breaking their budgets. The proposal, if passed by the full Legislature and signed by the governor, would change state law to allow municipalities to shift, without union negotiations, some of the cost of health care insurance from taxpayers to municipal employees, elected officials, and retirees. That has become the highest priority of the Massachusetts Municipal Association, a lobby that represents the state's 351 cities and towns" (Murphy, 5/29).

Denver Business Journal: "The Colorado Hospital Association filed a lawsuit against the state on Friday, claiming that new regulations put forth by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) unreasonably raise hospital costs and threaten access to care for many Coloradans. ... The lawsuit is a response to new regulations that were developed administratively in order to update a number of old rules and were scheduled to go into place about one month ago. CDPHE suspended the six most controversial rule changes for 90 days while continuing negotiations with hospital officials over them" (Sealover, 5/28). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.