KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Roundup: Mass. Finds More Problems At Compounding Pharmacies

A selection of health policy news from California, Massachusetts, Kansas, Minnesota, Connecticut and Colorado.

Los Angeles Times: California Passes Up Millions For Prison Health Care, Report Says
California's court-run prison health care program is missing out on tens of millions of dollars a year in federal funds because of disagreement with counties and software problems, a new legislative report states. The legislative analyst's office found increasing numbers of prison inmates who, because of their low income status, are eligible for the state's Medicaid program (St. John, 2/5).

Reuters: Massachusetts Cites Violations At 32 Compounding Pharmacies
Massachusetts health regulators have ordered 11 compounding pharmacies to partially or completely halt operations and cited another 21 for minor violations, after unannounced inspections of 40 pharmacies across the state. The wave of inspections follow a deadly U.S. meningitis outbreak stemming from a tainted steroid that was made by the New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Massachusetts (Clarke, 2/5).

Kaiser Health News: Kansas' Great Hope: Managed Care Will Tame Medicaid Costs
And the costs have been escalating for the $2.9 billion Medicaid program. So Kansas is in the midst of huge changes. On Jan. 1, the state began enrolling nearly all of its Medicaid population -- including its most expensive patients -- into a managed care program called KanCare. This effort is unrelated to the federal health law's Medicaid coverage expansion, on which Republican Gov. Sam Brownback has yet to take a position. Meanwhile, as the transition proceeds, many policy analysts are watching to see if the state has done enough to meet the goal of controlling costs while ensuring that these vulnerable patients receive quality health care" (Thompson and McLean, 2/6).

MPR: $3M Grant Project To Improve For Senior Citizen Care In Rural Areas
A pilot project to improve care for senior citizens in rural areas is being developed by a Minnesota-based senior housing and care services company. A $3 million grant from the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation will pay for a new facility in Detroit Lakes where elderly residents can access services from telemedicine to exercise programs in one location, says Kathryn Roberts, CEO of Ecumen. The new facility will be open sometime next year. The goal is to keep seniors independent and out of nursing homes. If successful, Roberts said it could provide a new model for rural communities (Gunderson, 2/5).

CT Mirror: Group Brings National Right-To-Die Movement To State Legislature
Leaders of a national right-to-die lobbying group came to Connecticut Tuesday to urge lawmakers to approve a bill to legalize assisted suicide for patients with a terminal illness. ... The controversial bill was recently raised by the legislature's Public Health Committee and will be aired at a public hearing this session. If approved, Connecticut would be the first state to approve the law legislatively. The other three states have approved the measure through the courts or ballot box (Merritt, 2/5).

Health Policy Solutions (a Colo. news service): Pilot Project Aims To Learn More, Spend Less On Health Care
As policymakers across the country grapple with the challenge of creating a better, less expensive health care system, one element often is overlooked: the role of the patient. An experiment in Colorado's San Luis Valley is testing the theory that better-informed patients who can weigh the pros and cons of medical procedures and their costs could help reduce demand for some expensive procedures. A new article in Health Affairs, co-authored by Denver health policy experts, explores how new state health exchanges could improve value in health care by cutting co-payments for health interventions that work while charging patients more for procedures with less impressive track records (Carman, 2/5).

California Watch: Prime Hospital Chain Acknowledges It Faces Two Federal Investigations
The Prime Healthcare Services hospital chain has acknowledged it is the target of two federal investigations: a U.S. Justice Department probe of its Medicare billings and an inquiry into alleged violations of patient confidentiality laws. The San Bernardino County-based company disclosed the investigations in a Jan. 2 filing with the state health department in Rhode Island, where Prime hopes to buy its 22nd hospital (Williams, 2/6).

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