KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Roundup:Calif. May Regain State Prison Health Care Control

A selection of health policy news from around the country.

MSNBC/KCRA: Single-Payer Health Care Bill Faces Big Hurdle
The California universal health care bill didn't make it past the Senate Appropriations Committee last year -- but Tuesday, more than 100 advocates plan to present it to the committee again, hoping for a better outcome. Under the single-payer bill, Californians would pay the state -- instead of private insurance companies -- to negotiate health care. The bill would cover any resident, including the estimated 7 million Californians who don't have health insurance now. ... A legislative health committee estimated the cost of plan would be around $200 billion (Sharp, 1/17).

Modern Healthcare: Vermont Crafts Details Of Universal Health Plan
Vermont officials are beginning to provide details about how the state plans to carry out its new publicly financed health care program. Meanwhile, state representatives Michael Fisher and Ann Pugh introduced a bill proposing regulatory changes for health insurers, health coverage and providers in order to move forward with the development of Green Mountain Care, the state's health care program (Lee, 1/17).

Kaiser Health News: 'Tiered' Insurance Confounds Consumers, Docs In Mass. 
Sarah Bechta, a wife, mother and physician from Northborough, Mass., sat down at her kitchen table with a folder full of brochures, pages from insurance websites and a hand-drawn spreadsheet to try to find out if a new 'tiered' health plan would be the cheapest option for her family (Bebinger, 1/17).

KQED: Calif. May Soon Regain Control of State Prison Health Care
The judge who assumed control of California's state prison medical system says conditions have improved enough that "the end of receivership appears to be in sight." U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson appointed a receiver to run California's prison medical system in 2006 after finding that an average of one inmate a week was dying of neglect or malpractice (1/17). 

The Texas Tribune: State Releases Much-Reduced List of Family Planning Contractors
Following a legislative session where lawmakers slashed funding for family planning and targeted Planned Parenthood, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) has released a much-reduced list of organizations that will receive state dollars to provide birth control, STD testing and cervical and breast cancer screenings for the state's poorest women. ... Left off the list of grant recipients is Planned Parenthood (Tan, 1/17). 

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Pregnancy Centers Come Under Fire For Abortion Info
An abortion advocacy group is criticizing state-supported crisis pregnancy centers for providing inaccurate information about abortions and their long-term health risks. NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota released its conclusions Tuesday after conducting a covert review of the pregnancy centers -- sending 27 volunteers into the centers where they pretended to be pregnant. … State officials said they planned to review both the NARAL report and the practices of the pregnancy centers, whose directors defended the information they provide to pregnant women (Olson, 1/17).

California Healthline: Lots To Do With Less Than Two Years To Go
It is an eventful month for the California Health Benefit Exchange board. Tomorrow, it releases its final solicitation for technology to help run the exchange. Proposals are due at the end of this month for the communication, outreach, assisters and health plan management components of the exchange (Gorn, 1/18).

The Washington Post: In Maryland, A Prescription For Better Health Care
A proposal unveiled Tuesday by Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown (D) aims to narrow the gap between Maryland and other states that, for a variety of reasons, have healthier communities and easier access to good medical care, especially primary care (Spivack, 1/17).

Kansas Health Institute News: Cuts In Mental Health Funding Affect Veterans
"When community mental centers are not funded at appropriate levels there are people who fall through the cracks," said Robin Cole, who runs Pawnee Mental Health Services. ... State-funded grants that help mental health centers offset the costs of caring for the uninsured have been cut from $31 million in 2007 to $10.8 million in 2012 (Ranney, 1/17).

The Lund Report: Business Plan For Oregon Health Plan’s Transformation Begins Taking Shape
The Oregon Health Policy Board is nearing completion of a business plan to overhaul the Oregon Health Plan. ... But questions remain, particularly around how detailed the business plan should be, and whether it should include a lengthy set of requirements or flexible parameters for the coordinated care organizations (CCOs), the centerpiece of the transformation, which will integrate physical, mental and dental services for more than 600,000 people on the Oregon Health Plan (Waldroupe, 1/17). 

HealthyCal: Health Care Reform May Have Unintended Consequences For HIV/AIDS Patients
While HIV/AIDS policy and funding have received more attention than usual in recent months, the state continues to reel from budget cuts prompted by sluggish tax revenue. ... Ten California counties are rolling out healthcare reform in advance of 2014, when healthcare reform takes effect nationally. ... Advocates are especially worried about the shift away from wraparound services, like housing assistance, towards a more medical model of care (Flynn, 1/17).

ABC (Video): Calif. Clinic Brings Free Dental Care To Developmentally Disabled
For most adults, a cavity calls for a quick prick of Novocain and a 20-minute filling. But for 40-year-old Tina Lumbley of Moreno Valley, Calif., the routine procedure was a day-long ordeal. Lumbley has autism, a developmental disorder that makes the sounds, smells, tastes and bright lights of the dentist's office overwhelming. … Lumbley is not alone. Across the country, adults with intellectual disabilities suffer from a lack of access to dental care. … Adults with disabilities are usually covered by Medicaid. But the reimbursement rate is so "pathetically low that no dentist wants to participate in the program," Perlman said. And they don't have to. Dental schools are not even required to teach students how to treat disabled patients. In 2009, California dropped dental coverage for all adults on Medicaid (Moisse, 1/18).

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