State Highlights: Medicaid Bankruptcy Ruling Could Save Some Nursing Homes
A selection of health policy stories from Florida, Texas, California and Colorado.
The Wall Street Journal: Medicaid Bankruptcy Ruling Could Bolster Health-Care Facility Turnarounds
A federal judge's recent ruling blocking Medicaid officials from cutting off a struggling nursing home could help troubled health care facilities survive using bankruptcy, according to restructuring professionals. U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Michael Williamson told Medicaid officials that bankruptcy's protective powers meant they must continue paying for patients at the Rehabilitation Center of St. Petersburg while the Florida facility's bankruptcy lawyers work through problems. The nursing home's Medicaid funding was at risk after health inspectors found "rampant, serious problems" at the 159-bed facility earlier this year. After the inspections, Medicaid threatened to terminate the facility's provider agreement (Stech, 9/22).
The Washington Post: Southern States Are Now Epicenter Of HIV/AIDS In The U.S.
Southern states now have the highest rates of new HIV diagnoses, the largest percentage of people living with the disease and the most people dying from it, according to Rainey Campbell, executive director of the Southern AIDS Coalition, a nonprofit serving 16 Southern states and the District. Fifty percent of all new HIV cases are in the South. And the HIV infection rate among African American and Latina women in the South now rivals that of sub-Saharan Africa. In some Southern states, blacks account for more than 80 percent of new HIV diagnoses among women (Wiltz, 9/22).
The Associated Press: Citing Joan Rivers, Texas’ Perry Backs Clinic Law
Republican Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Sunday invoked comedian Joan Rivers’ death at a surgical clinic while defending a law he signed that would close the majority of abortion facilities in the nation’s second-most populous state (9/21).
Stateline: A New Look At Why Surgical Rates Vary
Several years ago, a California study showed that a half-dozen elective surgeries were being performed far more often in Humboldt County than they were in the rest of the state. The procedures included hip and knee replacements, hysterectomies and carotid endarterectomies, a surgery to remove plaque buildup in the carotid arteries. Geographical variation in the delivery of health care can harm patients and increase costs. That is especially true when it comes to surgery, which is usually more expensive and riskier than less invasive treatments. Medicaid makes up a huge portion of state budgets, so the issue of health care variation is a pressing one for states looking to hold down costs. In Humboldt County, doctors, hospitals, and others involved in health care wondered why surgeons in their area operated so often, and if they could do anything to get closer to the state norms (Ollove, 9/23).
Bloomberg: Nursing Home Neglect Trial Fights Shell Company Transfers
Juanita Jackson died in July 2003, five weeks after she was removed from a Florida nursing home where her family said continual neglect led to multiple bedsores, malnutrition and a fall that injured her head. ... A corporate structure designed to transfer liabilities from the nursing home operator to a shell company without assets also has kept five other families from pursuing wrongful death lawsuits or collecting judgments, said lawyers for the family of Jackson, who was 76 when she died. Trans Healthcare Inc. and Trans Health Management Inc., which the plaintiffs claimed operated the homes, never appealed or paid the 2010 verdict -- $55 million each -- awarded by a state court jury in Bartow, Florida (Fisk, 9/22).
Denver Post: Colorado Veterans Affairs Officials Say Improvements Coming
Veterans Affairs officials said Monday that efforts are underway to ease wait times and improve access to care. Lynette Roff, director of the Veterans Affairs Eastern Colorado Health Care System (ECHCS), addressed a small crowd of veterans and advocates during a town hall meeting for vets and family members at the VA hospital in Denver. Access to VA care has been the focus of scrutiny in recent months. Yet even before the scandal erupted over long waiting times for care in Phoenix and elsewhere, the eastern Colorado system had been working for two years to open new facilities in Golden, Pueblo and Colorado Springs, she said (Draper, 9/22).
Denver Post: Colorado Regulators Approve Health Insurance Premiums 1 Percent Higher
State regulators have approved more than 1,000 health insurance plans offered by 20 carriers for 2015 that, on statewide average, will increase premiums 1.18 percent over last year. Mountain resorts and other West Slope rural communities, historically stuck with the most expensive health premiums, benefitted from the Division of Insurance's consolidation of two rating areas into one. Their 2015 rates will decrease by an average of 7.44 percent across all carriers. Likewise, the consolidation of Eastern Plains communities and southern rural areas resulted in a 5.01 percent drop in their average premiums (Draper, 9/22).