State Highlights: Infant Mortality Rises In D.C.; Medicaid Managed Care Rates
A selection of health policy stories from the District of Columbia, Connecticut, Minnesota, New York and Massachusetts.
The Washington Post: Infant Mortality Ticks Up In D.C.; Officials Insist Federal Cuts Won’t Harm Response
The District’s infant mortality rate ticked up in 2012, city officials announced Wednesday -- an unwelcome development that comes amid the loss of a key federal grant and the launch of a new effort to reduce infant deaths (DeBonis, 10/1).
Modern Healthcare: Medicaid Managed Care Plans Get Federal Help On State Rates
The CMS took action Wednesday to improve the way states pay private health plans to oversee the care of Medicaid beneficiaries. The agency issued a nine-page guidance that outlines new data requirements states must follow to show they are meeting the statutory requirement that payments to plans are actuarially sound -- meaning they cover all medical costs, administrative costs, taxes and fees that the health plan will be responsible for. Of the more than 70 million people in Medicaid, 70 percent are in managed-care plans for at least part of their care, according to the CMS. Intervention from the federal agency was needed because states often pay less than health plans need to cover costs, Karen Ignagni, CEO of America's Health Insurance Plans said during a Medicaid conference organized by the trade group Wednesday (Dickson, 10/2).
CT Mirror: DCF: Redesign Children’s Mental Health System
Connecticut’s child welfare agency issued an ambitious proposal to redesign the publicly financed children’s behavioral health system, calling the existing system “broken” and identifying the need for more services and better access to care. The Department of Children and Families also recommended finding ways to prevent deeper problems by helping parents, child-care providers, school personnel and pediatricians better foster healthy development in children and identify problems early. And the plan calls for families of children with mental health needs to have more input in the behavioral health system. Not clear yet: What the recommendations would cost, how the redesign would work, or how several of the plan’s provisions would apply to the 56 percent of Connecticut youth covered by private insurance (Levin Becker, 10/1).
MinnPost: After Closing Clinic, NIP works To Keep Mental Health Going
Since 1968, the Minneapolis-based Neighborhood Involvement Program (NIP) has provided a range of free or low-cost health care and other support services to thousands of uninsured clients in the Twin Cities. This summer, stymied by the prospect of a prohibitively expensive transition to electronic medical records and insurance coding required to accept reimbursement under new federal regulations, NIP’s board of directors made the difficult decision to shut down the program’s medical clinic. ... Implementation of the Affordable Care Act meant that a large number of NIP’s clients now have access to health insurance. Staff felt that this was a good time to make the transition from free care at NIP to insurance-based treatment at mainstream clinics (Steiner, 10/1).
The Associated Press: Anthem, Hospital Group Hit Impasse On Contract
Contract talks broke down Wednesday between Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield and a network of five hospitals and other facilities across [Connecticut], leaving thousands of residents facing higher health insurance costs. Anthem and Hartford HealthCare missed a deadline to reach an agreement, which kicked the hospitals out of the insurance company's providers network. ... Both sides said they remain open to more discussions. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, Attorney General George Jepsen and other state officials called for Anthem and Hartford HealthCare to return to the bargaining table as soon as possible (10/1).
Modern Healthcare: N.Y. Hospitals Consider $6.4B Transformation Effort
After some 18 months of negotiations with the federal government, New York state has received permission from regulators to implement a vast revamping of its health care delivery system in a bid to lower Medicaid costs. Now the state is at the starting point of a complex overhaul that involves hospitals, insurers, doctors and patients. Among the goals: cutting unnecessary hospital admissions for Medicaid by 25 percent after five years. The hospital industry estimates that once the reform process is implemented, there will be a 5 percent overall drop in hospital admissions (Ivanova, 10/1).
The Associated Press: Massachusetts Hospital Staffing Law Takes Effect
A new state law sets strict limits on the number of patients that registered nurses who work in hospital intensive care units can be assigned to at a given time. The law, approved by the Legislature in June, took effect this week in Massachusetts. It requires that intensive care nurses be assigned ideally to just one intensive care patient, but no more than two at any time. The Massachusetts Nurses Association said Wednesday it had begun airing TV and radio ads to make the public aware of the new nurse patient-ratios (10/1).