KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Federal Court Upholds 10% Provider Rate Cut In Calif. Medicaid; Mich. Senior Care Suffers Under Sequestration

California Healthline: Federal Court Upholds 10 Percent Medi-Cal Provider Cut
The United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday upheld the right of California to impose a 10 percent rate reduction on providers of Medi-Cal services. The long-awaited ruling is the last judicial step, short of the U.S. Supreme Court, for the controversial cut to hospitals, physicians, emergency transport and dentists. Provider groups have said they would likely appeal the rate reduction to the Supreme Court. The federal ruling lifted the injunctions on implementing the reductions. Outside of a Supreme Court appeal, the federal judicial panel clearly stated there would be no further appeals considered (Gorn, 5/28).

Detroit Free Press/USA Today: Meals, Senior Care Slashed In Sequestration 
Seniors, especially the most frail, may be among the first to feel the effects of the gridlock in Washington that has led to across-the-board budget cuts. A hit across Michigan of about $2.4 million means fewer free and low-cost meals -- both in home-delivered lunches and those served at seniors centers, recreation sites and senior housing complexes -- among other things (Erb, 5/28).

Los Angeles Times: California Assembly, Senate Outline Divergent Budget Plans 
Now that Gov. Jerry Brown has rolled out his revised budget proposal, both houses of the legislature are outlining their own ideas for how the state's money should be spent in the next year. The Senate wants more funding for mental health programs, dental care for poor adults and career training for high school students. The Assembly wants to increase welfare grants, expand child-care programs and reduce university costs (Megerian, 5/28).

Georgia Health News: Low-Wage Workers Find Specialist Care Within Their Reach 
The hospital referred [Patricia Thiessen] to a cardiologist, who informed her that she would need two surgeries to unclog [her carotid] arteries. The bill would be close to $60,000. Thiessen was working part time as a cosmetologist and caring for her disabled brother and sister. "The cost of health insurance was out of my range," she said. "It was like a thousand dollars a month." ... Fortunately, a billing coordinator in the specialist's office told her to call Access to Healthcare Network (AHN), a coalition of health care providers in Nevada and the state’s only nonprofit medical discount plan. Athens will soon become the first Georgia community -- in fact the first community outside Nevada -- to implement a plan like the one that helped Thiessen (Branam, 5/22).

Los Angeles Times: Senate Rejects Bill On Prescription Monitoring Program
Amid opposition from the pharmaceutical industry, state senators Tuesday failed to pass a bill that would have significantly enhanced a prescription monitoring program aimed at curbing drug abuse and overdose deaths. Under the proposed legislation, the program -- known as CURES -- would have received a steady stream of funding from an increase in licensing fees on pharmacists, physicians and other prescribers. The bill also called for a tax on drug makers to allow the attorney general to hire teams of investigators to crack down on drug-seeking patients and doctors who recklessly prescribe to them (Girion and Glover, 5/28).

The Associated Press: Calif. Bill Would Expand Who Can Perform Abortions
Women could go to a medical professional other than a doctor to end some pregnancies under a bill advancing through the state Legislature. The bill by Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, would allow nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives and physician's assistants to perform so-called aspiration abortions during the first trimester (Olson, 5/28).

The Associated Press: Small Businesses Struggle To Provide Health Care Benefits, But Offer Perks To Attract Workers
Small business owners continue to struggle to provide traditional health care benefits to their workers, but some are providing other unusual perks as an alternative to help attract and retain employees. A new report released Wednesday by Bank of America found that only 33 percent of the small business owners it surveyed provide traditional health benefits (5/29).

North Carolina Health News: Docs Roam Legislature Looking For Tobacco-Cessation Funds
A small group of white coat-clad doctors worked the hallways of the General Assembly Tuesday, dropping into legislators’ offices and stopping them in hallways. The physicians were in Raleigh to represent hundreds more from around the state who signed onto a letter asking lawmakers to allocate some money for tobacco-cessation funding, an allocation absent from the budgets of both the Senate and Gov. Pat McCrory (Hoban, 5/29).

WBUR: Here & Now: Should Parents Be Liable If Unvaccinated Children Sicken Others? (Audio)
A measles outbreak in the New York is prompting bioethicist Art Caplan to wonder about the consequences of parents choosing not to vaccinate their children. He argues that parents should have the right to not vaccinate, but they should also expect to be sued if their child gets someone else sick (5/28).  

WBUR: As NIH Funding Shrinks, Mass. Biomedical Researchers Compete For Fewer Grants (Audio)
In his laboratory at MIT’s Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in Cambridge, Piyush Gupta is trying to figure out why cancer cells develop resistance to multiple drugs. The answer could save millions of lives and billions of dollars. Recent advances in biomedical research have already reduced the cancer death rate in the U.S. by 1 percent a year -- saving the nation $500 billion annually. Much of the research happens within walking distance of Gupta’s Kendall Square lab -- at Harvard, MIT and across the Charles River at Boston's teaching hospitals (Gellerman, 5/28).

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