State Highlights: Calif. Gov. Signs Rural Telehealth Bill; Louisiana’s Ex-Health Secretary Indicted
A selection of health policy stories from California, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Oregon, Montana and Delaware.
Modern Healthcare: Using Medicaid For Prisioner Healthcare Saves States Millions
States around the country are taking advantage of a once little-used policy that allows them to bill Medicaid for the healthcare expenses of prisoners who leave a correctional institution for treatment. Since 1997, states have been allowed to bill Medicaid for the care of inmates who required treatment at a hospital or nursing facility for longer than 24 hours. The provision has drawn new attention this year as millions of Americans, including those serving time in correctional institutions, have become newly eligible for Medicaid under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Dickson, 9/23).
Governing: How Can States Fix Their Medicaid Programs?
Traditionally, states have provided Medicaid benefits using a fee-for-service system -- an approach critics say encourages providers to administer more services, often unnecessary ones. As a result, states over the past two decades have been implementing managed care organizations (MCOs), in which people receive most or all of their Medicaid services from an organization under contract with the state. … So now, states are looking for yet another way to compensate health-care costs. In so doing, Oregon and a few other states are following the push toward accountable care organizations (ACOs). The idea is to actively involve doctors in lowering costs and maintaining quality service (Kardish, Sept.).
California Healthline: Governor Signs Telehealth Streamlining
Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed a bill to make it easier for rural patients to utilize telehealth technology. It was one of several health-related bills the governor signed into law last week. AB 809 by Assembly member Dan Logue (R-Marysville) changes the consent rules around use of telehealth, a technology that allows patients in rural areas to get medical advice and treatment plans from physicians in urban settings. It allows providers to secure consent the first time patients use the technology and removes the requirement to get consent every time a new appointment is made. Previous rules required consent from the originating site, which had the potential to create some logistical problems (Gorn, 9/23).
Philadelphia Inquirer: Bypassing Pharmacies Boosts Workers’ Comp Prescription Costs In Pa.
Nearly half of what Pennsylvania's workers' compensation program pays for prescription drugs goes to physicians who dispense them directly to patients, bypassing pharmacies, a lucrative practice that is limited by many states and not reimbursed at all by private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid, according to a new report. Although few doctors take advantage of the loophole, the cost differential can be enormous (Sapatkin, 9/23).
The Associated Press: Jindal's Ex-Health Secretary Indicted On Perjury
The indictment comes more than a year and a half after the Jindal administration scrapped the 10-year Medicaid claims processing contract with Maryland-based Client Network Services Inc., or CNSI (9/23).
Oregonian: Washington County Health Officials To Recommend Closing Two Low-Income Clinics, Citing Patient Drop Off
Washington County Commissioners will consider today closing two publicly-funded health clinics, a move that would effectively end the county's role in providing health care to low-income residents. County Health and Human Services director Marni Kuyl is scheduled to present the proposal to the commissioners for the first time at a meeting Tuesday afternoon. The clinics, one located on Main Street in Hillsboro and the other on Second Street in Beaverton, currently offer testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, immunizations, contraceptive and women's health services. The proposal comes in response to a decade of declining patient numbers, which county health officials attribute to increased access under the Affordable Are Act and Oregon's subsequent Medicaid expansion (Kullgren, 9/23).
NPR: In This Year Of Ebola, A Montana YMCA Is Its Brother's Keeper
It started with the obvious question: "How can we help?" That's what Chris Siegler wanted to know when Ebola struck Sierra Leone. And the answer to that question shows that it's not only big international groups that can assist Ebola-ravaged countries. Siegler has had a long relationship with the West African nation. He was a Peace Corps volunteer there in the late 1960s with his wife, Jeannie. After the 11-year civil war ended in 2002, the Sieglers went to visit. Chris, who's on the board of the YMCA in Missoula, Montana, came across a YMCA in Freetown, the country's capital (Whitney, 9/24).
The Associated Press: Volunteer Ambulance, EMS Companies Receive Boost
New legislation being signed by Gov. Jack Markell will boost the coffers of Delaware’s volunteer ambulance and emergency medical services companies. One bill to be signed Wednesday establishes a new $10 fee on all motor vehicle violations, with the money going from driver’s wallets to volunteer ambulance companies statewide (9/24).