KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Roundup: Medicaid Worries In Texas, Ill., Pa.; California Insurance Exchanges; Kansas Controversy On Health Law

The Texas Tribune: Texas Nursing Homes Brace for Medicaid Cuts
The current state House and Senate budget proposals include a 10 percent cut in the rate that the state will pay Medicaid providers. Some health care lobbying groups say that when you add in the loss of the enhanced federal Medicaid match paid for by stimulus dollars that have now dried up, you get a 33 percent reduction overall. Now take those cuts and apply them to your average Texas nursing home, where a majority of residents are covered by Medicaid (Philpott, 2/1).

The Dallas Morning News: Local Hospitals: We Contribute Billions To Economy - Don't Cut Medicaid
Before state lawmakers cut Medicaid fees to local hospitals, the Dallas Fort Worth Hospital Council wants them to consider the billions they contribute to the local economy. ... There's concern that legislators will implement a 10 percent cut in Medicaid fees to hospitals in an effort to fix the state budget. A fee cut could mean job losses and less tax revenue for local communities (Roberson, 1/31).  

Star Tribune: Health Systems' Cost-Savings Plan Takes Beating
CEOs of the state's big health systems and insurance plans knew they were stepping toward a political buzz saw last week when they released their own plan to rein in state spending on health care. On Monday, they got nicked ... Groups representing disabled Minnesotans say the plan, which suggested raising some taxes and cutting some services to save $1.8 billion, is full of factual errors -- including some proposed service restrictions that already exist in state law or rules (Wolfe, 1/31).

The Miami Herald: Jackson Health System Cash 'Dangerously Low' Again
Because of declining numbers of patients, the treasurer of Jackson Health System's governing board said Monday cash is getting dangerously low and major cost cuts may be needed. … [Marcos Lapciuc, treasurer of the Public Health Trust] said executives need to consider cutting costs, particularly labor, which accounts for 55 percent of the system's costs. … The immediate problem is that Jackson's financial experts project the system will end January with 16.7 days of cash on hand, the board was told. Executives said there has been a 7 percent drop in patient revenue -- more than double the 3 percent budgeted decline. Jackson is now projected to lose $68.7 million this fiscal year, even with an unexpected infusion of $35 million from the Obama administration and $17.4 million more in county sales tax money than was budgeted (Dorschner, 2/1).

The Philadelphia Inquirer: A Capitol Question: What Will Corbett Cut? 
Can the new governor stick to his campaign pledge to cut billions of dollars out of the state budget without raising a single tax? … Corbett could try to follow states that reduced reimbursements to hospitals and other providers of health care to Medicaid enrollees, or that dropped optional Medicaid services, such as dental care. Governors in other states have also sharply rolled back funding for mental-health services, drug- and alcohol-abuse prevention programs, and women's and family health programs, according to a 2010 study by the National Conference of State Legislatures. ... part of the calculation is the check that won't be in the mail from Washington anymore (Couloumbis, 1/31). 

San Francisco Chronicle: State Considers Auction Of Field Hospital Equipment
As the state copes with yet another huge budget shortfall, the once strange-sounding prospect of selling government goods on eBay has come up again. In contrast to the property sold in the past - a leather jacket signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, used Highway Patrol cruisers, discarded desks and chairs - now it's equipment for the state's emergency mobile field hospitals that could wind up at auction or sold off. The eBay idea emerged because Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed slashing $5.8 million spent annually to maintain and store $166 million worth of hospital beds and medical equipment kept for use during a major disaster, such as an earthquake destroying a medical facility (Jewett, 2/1). 

Chicago Sun-Times: Need For Low-Cost Dental Care In Cook County Far Exceeds Services
Thousands of people who are uninsured or on Medicaid face ... challenges in Cook County, where the need for low-cost dental care far outstrips available services. The Bridge to Healthy Smiles campaign, which has pushed for greater access to dental care in Illinois, estimates that there is one dental clinic in Cook County for every 15,700 children who rely on public aid. An audit of county dental services released Monday highlights the scope of the problem (Thomas, 2/1). 

California Healthline: How California Progress Fits With Federal Report
A new federal report on lowering health insurance costs has a distinctive California flavor to it.One of the main points of the report from the Health and Human Services agency is to quantify the savings to families and individuals who participate in a health benefits exchange. Since California is the first in the nation to establish a post-health-reform exchange, this state is a bit of a poster child for how the health reform law will work (Gorn, 1/31).

Kansas Health Institute News: Kansas Considers Constitutional Right To Refuse Health Insurance
Kansas lawmakers today debated a newly introduced bill and a constitutional amendment, both aimed at blocking implementation of the federal health reform law in Kansas. The House Health and Human Services Committee was considering HCR 5007 - which would put on the 2012 ballot a proposed amendment to the state constitution prohibiting rules or laws that compel Kansans to purchase health insurance - and HB 2129, a statute that would assert the right of Kansans to refuse health insurance. Both are versions of similar bills introduced last year (Cauthon, 1/31).

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