State Highlights: Iowa Calls Out Limited-Benefit Plans; Texas Gov. Candidate Proposes $175M For Health Care
A selection of health policy stories from Iowa, Texas, Illinois, North Carolina, California and Montana.
Des Moines Register: Quit Peddling Skimpy Health Insurance, Iowa Tells Firms
Out-of-state businesses have been trying to trick Iowans into thinking that limited-benefit insurance plans offer full-fledged health coverage, state regulators said Wednesday. The Iowa Insurance Division filed a formal complaint this week against four people and several related companies. The division said the companies have been running misleading radio and TV ads encouraging people to call a toll-free number right away to find out about health insurance (Leys, 9/10).
Texas Tribune: Texas Gubernatorial Candidate Unveils New Health Policy Proposal
Increased funding for preventive care and luring medical professionals to Texas are at the center of gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott’s health care plan, unveiled at St. Joseph's Women's Medical Center here on Wednesday. The Republican attorney general, running to replace Gov. Rick Perry, released a proposal that includes a $50 million budget increase for women’s health programs, additional funding for medical school residency slots in Texas, loan forgiveness for aspiring doctors who practice in underserved areas and compensation for doctors who provide care via telephone. Abbott said the cost of the entire plan would be $175 million every two years, but said it could actually save more than it costs (Ayala and Walters, 9/10).
Dallas Morning News: Greg Abbott Touts $175M New Spending For Health Care
Greg Abbott proposed Wednesday that state lawmakers provide another $175 million in health care spending, with a large portion devoted to cancer screening and treatment for low income women. In a proposal unveiled in Houston at a women’s health center, Abbott suggested that $50 million should be added for additional women’s services, including treatment for postpartum depression. He also proposed forgiving education loans to mental health workers willing to help in under-served areas and providing free mental health screening to veterans and service personnel (Hoppe, 9/10).
Chicago Sun Times: Illinois County Shifts $2M To Cover Shortfall On Employee Health Insurance
The Porter County Council agreed Wednesday to use $2 million in income tax revenue to help cover a shortfall for county employees’ health insurance. That will help bridge, but not close, the gap for insurance costs for the rest of the year, county officials said. County commissioners offered up the $2 million in economic development income tax funds last week but said the council would need to figure out how to come up with whatever else was needed. Adams said 30 employees are responsible for about 50 percent of the county’s health insurance claims so far this year (Lavalley, 9/10).
McClatchy: North Carolina DHHS Secretary Defends $6.8 Million No Bid Contract
The state Department of Health and Human Services hired a company in a no-bid contract to oversee Medicaid finances in an emergency, agency Secretary Aldona Wos said Tuesday. DHHS didn’t have enough people or personnel with skills to oversee financial operations in the $13 billion health insurance program for the poor, elderly and disabled, Wos told legislators as she defended hiring Alvarez & Marsal, a Washington, D.C.-area firm (9/10).
Sacramento Bee: Jerry Brown Signs Bill Requiring Employers To Give Paid Sick Leave
Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Wednesday entitling most California workers to three paid sick days a year, a sweeping measure that Democrats and labor advocates have been seeking for years. The legislation affects about 40 percent of California’s workforce, about 6.5 million people who currently are not paid if they stay home when sick (Siders, 9/10).
San Francisco Chronicle: Churches Combat Health Disparities In Minorities Through Outreach
This is the fourth year of a National Cancer Institute-funded five-year project by researchers from Kaiser Permanente and UC Berkeley's School of Public Health to study faith-based cancer screening outreach methods. The purpose is to find ways to reduce cancer screening disparities among racial and ethnic minorities. Research has shown that among all racial and ethnic groups in the United States, African Americans are more likely to develop colorectal cancer and the most likely to die from it. Colon cancer death rates are about 45 percent higher in black Americans than in whites (Colliver, 9/10).
The Associated Press: Montana Vets Question Federal Health Officials
The acting director of the Veterans Affairs Montana Health Care System said Wednesday he isn’t waiting for a follow-up inspection to a national audit to figure out ways to cut the long waiting period for initial doctors’ appointments. An investigation into patient access problems in the VA’s health care system nationwide flagged the Fort Harrison medical center and outpatient centers in Billings and Great Falls as three of the 110 facilities in need of further review. The audit found that Fort Harrison patients wait an average of 48 days for their first appointment with a primary doctor. VA Montana officials said they are trying to cut that period down to less than 30 days (Volz, 9/10).