KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Roundup: Minn. To Add More Adults To Medicaid; Mass. Gov. Seeks Savings In Pensions and Health Care Costs; Ariz. Bishop And Hospital Spar Over Control

News outlets report on a variety of developments in the states.

Star Tribune: Medicaid Addition Will Help More Minnesota Poor
Minnesota can add 95,000 low-income adults to its Medicaid rolls, vastly improving their medical care, at no additional cost to the state, two officials at the state Department of Human Services told legislators Tuesday (Wolfe, 12/15).

Kansas City Star: Nixon Urges Lawmakers To Reauthorize Missouri Rx For Five More Years
Facing a year in which many state programs will be slashed, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon traveled across the state on Tuesday stumping for a program he wants to save. It's Missouri Rx, the prescription-drug assistance program for needy seniors and people with disabilities. At stops in Kansas City, St. Louis and Springfield, Nixon, a Democrat, called on lawmakers to reauthorize the program for five more years. If no action is taken, it will expire next August (Noble, 12/14).

The Boston Globe: Patrick Asks State To Cut Even More
Jay Gonzalez, (Gov. Deval) Patrick's secretary of administration and finance, … said the governor would seek savings through stricter pension controls and limits on the rising cost of health care (Levenson, 12/15).

Los Angeles Times: PacifiCare Ordered To Not Pay $120 Million In Dividends
California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner has ratcheted up the pressure in a long-running dispute with Cypress-based PacifiCare (Helfand, 12/15).

The Associated Press: Djou Welcomes Audit Of Pact With Pacific Islands
U.S. Rep. Charles Djou (duh-JOO') says he welcomes a Government Accountability Office audit of federal funding of agreements between the United States and Pacific island nations that cost states like Hawaii millions for health care (12/14).

Kansas Health Institute: Non-Profit Led Insurance Exchange Urged
A key player in the state's health reform debate says she will ask Gov.-elect Sam Brownback to consider putting a nonprofit agency in charge of a yet-to-be-formed health insurance exchange. "If we're going to have one, I'd rather have one that's run by a nonprofit agency than one that's run by the government," said Rep. Brenda Landwehr, R-Wichita (Ranney, 12/14).

Connecticut Mirror: Malloy Joins Rally For Universal Health Care On Eve Of SustiNet Vote
Governor-elect Dan Malloy joined dozens of clergy and hundreds of people rallying for universal health care Tuesday evening, the night before a key vote on plans for the SustiNet health partnership. The rally at Emanuel Lutheran Church in Hartford was held by the Interfaith Fellowship for Universal Health Care, a group of clergy that has been advocating for SustiNet, a health insurance plan that could be open to anyone. The SustiNet board is expected to vote Wednesday morning on its recommendations to the legislature, which, along with Malloy, will ultimately determine its fate (Levin Becker, 12/14).

The Associated Press/Seattle Times: Wash. State Workers OK Furloughs Under Agreement
Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire and state workers announced an agreement Tuesday on health insurance increases and a 3 percent salary decrease that will come in the form of unpaid leave. The health insurance increases will apply to all state workers, and the pay cut will apply to 90 percent of general government state employees, both union and nonunion (12/14). 

The Miami Herald: Jackson Transition Plan Advances
Jackson Health System's governing board on Tuesday named consultant Ted Shaw as chief transition officer to handle day-to-day operations while leaving Eneida Roldan as chief executive until her contract expires at the end of May. Several members of the Public Health Trust were concerned about how the two roles will be defined, but there was only one dissenting vote, from Jorge Arrizurieta, who said he was concerned: "I need to know where the buck stops" (Dorschner, 12/15).  

The Arizona Republic: Phoenix Bishop Warns St. Joseph's Hospital On Health-Care Rules
The Catholic bishop of Phoenix will strip St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center of its Catholic status on Friday if the hospital's parent company, Catholic Healthcare West, does not meet his demands to guarantee compliance with church teachings. ...
The bishop wants the hospital to give him more oversight of its practices to ensure it complies with Catholic health-care rules, provide education on those rules to medical staff and acknowledge that the bishop is correct in a dispute over a procedure the diocese says was an abortion (Clancy, 12/15).

Fort Myers News-Press: Jails' Health Care Costs Soar
Lee County taxpayers are paying as much as $10 million a year to treat inmates for everything from achy teeth to cancer. The base contract with the county's health care provider has jumped 92 percent from about $3.7 million in fiscal year 2003-04 to $7.1 million for the period ending in September, outpacing the 76 percent growth in inmates. Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott has tried to offset the increases by adding a dialysis machine to one of the two jail facilities in 2008, saving thousands a year. Scott also said he will work with prosecutors and judges by going to court to release a nonviolent inmate with chronic and costly medical problems. And the company that provides health care uses generic medications and educates inmates and staff on ways to stay healthier (Gillespie, 12/14).

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