KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Roundup: N.Y. Law Requires Coverage For Partial Mastectomy

A selection of health policy stories from New York, Texas, Connecticut, Florida and Pennsylvania.

The Associated Press/Wall Street Journal: New Law Includes Coverage For Partial Mastectomy
New York's newest laws include one that will require health insurance to cover reconstructive surgery after partial mastectomies. Health insurers in New York must already cover the cost of reconstructive surgery after a full mastectomy (8/2).

Houston Chronicle: Texas Is Home To 40% Of Home Health Care Agencies With Suspicious Claims
The nation's top health care inspector is calling for a Medicare moratorium on new home health care agencies in Texas, where the largest number of companies are filing dubious claims, according to a report obtained by the Houston Chronicle. Nearly 40 percent of all home health care agencies or HHAs with suspicious billings came from Texas, according to the latest findings from the U.S. Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General. … "Florida and Texas each had a high number of (agencies) with questionable billings in 2010," states the report, scheduled to be released Thursday (Langford, 8/2).

CT Mirror: Budget Challenges Put Malloy, Urban Democrats At Odds
The plot revolves around Malloy's plan to curtail Medicaid benefits for single adults, a cut the governor needs to keep his new budget from slipping into an early deficit. Meanwhile, Democratic legislators from Connecticut's cities say this would leave more than 13,000 of the state's poorest residents -- most of whom are their constituents -- with no health coverage in a legislative election year. A better alternative, they say, would be to raise taxes on big business or the wealthy, neither of which are prevalent in their districts (Phaneuf, 8/1).

Medscape: Florida Appeals Defeat Of Gag Law On Physicians Gun Queries
The state is seeking to undo a permanent injunction that U.S. District Court Judge Marcia Cooke in Miami issued against the law in June. Cooke said the law, called the Firearm Owner's Privacy Act, violated the free speech rights of physicians. Individual Florida physicians and state chapters of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the American College of Physicians had challenged the law in court, saying that physicians need to ask young parents about gun ownership for the sake of advising them about safe storage. The Florida law bans posing such questions, recording the responses in the patient's chart, and "unnecessarily harassing" or discriminating against gun owners (Lowes, 8/1).

Texas Tribune: Struggles Continue For Doctors Treating Elderly Poor
Months after Texas physicians treating the state's poorest seniors made a public plea for relief, there has been little movement to reverse a state policy that curbed their reimbursements for patients eligible for both Medicaid and Medicare. The policy change, made by budget-weary state lawmakers last session with an expectation that it would save an estimated $450 million over the next two years, has created unintended consequences for some doctors, who find themselves barely able to keep their doors open (Tan, 8/2).

AP/Miami Herald: Scott Promises Funding For Nursing Homes
Gov. Rick Scott promised adequate funding for nursing homes at a conference for providers of elderly care, but protesters criticized his opposition to President Obama's health care overhaul and his refusal to enforce some of its provisions. The Florida governor spoke for five minutes Wednesday to more than 700 attendees at the Florida Home Care Association's annual conference. Scott avoided about two dozen protesters who stood outside the Hilton Orlando in a downpour of rain (8/1).

MSNBC/Philly Burbs: Trio Indicted In $2.5 Million Medicare Fraud For Ambulance Rides
Three men, two of them from Bucks County, were indicted Wednesday in a $2.5 million scheme to defraud Medicare, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. MedEx Ambulance Inc. of Feasterville was indicted on 41 counts of health care fraud, false statements, wire fraud and conspiracy, said U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger. The company, owned by Aleksandr N. Zagorodny of Holland and Sergey Zagorodny of Philadelphia, transported patients who could travel on their own and without an ambulance, according to the indictment (Mattar, 8/2).

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