KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State News: Texas To Close High-Risk Pool; Baltimore Probes Complaint Against Aetna

A selection of health policy stories from Massachusetts, Texas, California, Oregon, Missouri and Maryland.

The Texas Tribune: Texas Prepares To Shutter High-Risk Insurance Pool
At year's end, Texas will shut down its high-risk insurance pool for some of the state's sickest residents, pushing participants to find private coverage in the federal health insurance marketplace created under the federal Affordable Care Act. And patient advocates say those participants should focus on making the transition sooner rather than later to ensure that they don't experience a lapse in coverage or lose access to current health care providers and services (Maly, 10/17).

California Healthline: Brown Vetoes Pricing Transparency Bill
A bill requiring health plans and insurers selling to large employers to disclose broad data relating to pricing and premium increases was vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown (D), who said his own administration is working toward coming up with just such a program to promote transparency. The bill, SB 746 authored by state Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), would have required insurers selling to large employers to provide detailed reports to the state explaining pricing and justifying premium increases. Additionally, it would have required insurers contracting with two or fewer medical groups to provide information on cost increases, as well as claims data to large purchasers who request it (Norberg, 10/16).

The Lund Report: Physician Assistants, Nurse Practitioners Get Reprieve From Federal Government
Advocates, working together with their political allies, stopped the federal government from implementing a new rule that could have inhibited the elderly from getting access to wheelchairs, nebulizers, walkers and other medical equipment. Starting Oct. 1, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services had intended to require nurse practitioners and physician assistants to secure a physician's signature before ordering such medical equipment (Lund-Muzikant, 10/16).

Modern Healthcare: Big Shifts Seen In Mass. Insurance Market After Rules Limit Consumer Options
As millions of Americans began to shop in newly created markets for health insurance, a new study of health plan choice in Massachusetts found major shifts in its health insurance market after the state set new rules that limit consumer options. The results may be significant for states that have some regulatory authority over health insurance markets created under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, according to the study's authors and health policy experts (Evans, 10/16).

St. Louis Beacon: Community Awareness Needed To Encourage Blacks To Embrace Mental Services
La’Shay Williams, a graphic artist, likes nothing better than spending time creating fancy brochures, colorful outfits or even a striking mural that attests to the peace she feels since shaking off the taunting voices of demons in her head. … Her refusal to seek help from a mental-health professional is common among African Americans, according to Darrell L. Hudson, an assistant professor at the Brown School at Washington University (Joiner, 10/16).

The Baltimore Sun: City Investigates Complaint That Health Care Provider Didn’t Contract With Women-, Minority-Owned Businesses
Baltimore City officials are investigating a complaint filed Wednesday by two minority- and women-owned businesses against health care giant Aetna for not using their services despite a contractual agreement to do so. Thomas B. Corey, chief of Baltimore's Minority & Women's Business Opportunity Office, said he will research why Aetna did not use the subcontractors, CASI Inc. and JUL Enterprise, despite committing to when it applied for the city contract (Wenger, 10/16).

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