KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Minn. Will Accept Federal Assistance, Tenn. Tackles Burgeoning Drug Abuse Problem

Politico: "Minnesota will accept federal assistance under the Democrats' health reform law after all, despite Gov. Tim Pawlenty's executive order barring voluntary participation in federal health care programs. The state's Management and Budget Office was one of 700 new organizations that signed up for the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program, a $5 billion program that helps pay for the insurance costs of retirees between the ages of 55 and 64. Pawlenty, a possible Republican presidential candidate, signed an executive order in August barring Minnesota state agencies from pursuing 'requests for grant funding for programs and demonstration projects deriving from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.' ... Pawlenty spokesman Bruce Gordon says participation in the new program does not violate the executive order because it promulgates existing state polices" (Kliff, 10/29).

The Tennessean: "Prescription drugs killed more than 1,600 Tennesseans over a three-year period, according to yet-to-be-released research conducted by the University of Tennessee College of Pharmacy. The school is among a growing number of stakeholders joining efforts to understand and combat the state's burgeoning prescription drug abuse problem. Prescription drug abuse is the fastest-growing drug problem in the nation. The number of nonmedical users age 12 and older was 5.3 million in 2009, according to the Office on Drug Control Policy, up 20 percent from 2002. Medications are now the second most abused drug, after marijuana. Tennessee consistently ranks as one of the most medicated states in the country" (Gee, 11/1).

Wyoming Tribune-Eagle: "For the first time, the costs of Medicaid could surpass school funding as the state's largest expense. The Wyoming Department of Health submitted its largest supplemental budget request at more than $200 million. Out of the total, $192 million is to cover the estimated shortfall for Medicaid services. The amount is a reflection of the economy and the fact that more people are eligible for services, said Lee Clabots, deputy director of administration at the health department. During fiscal year 2008, 80,500 patients were eligible. By fiscal year 2010, the total grew to 88,500 individuals" (Dynes, 10/31).

Kansas City Star: "Year after year, [violent sexual criminals] remain locked up in mental health facilities across the country, racking up hundreds of millions of dollars in expenses. In Missouri, the Department of Mental Health is opening more space to house its steadily growing population of these lifetime patients. But even as its sexual predator program expands, the department is downsizing hospital care for the severely mentally ill so that it can stay within its shrinking budget. That will mean fewer resources for patients in Kansas City" (Bavley, 10/31).

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