KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Iowa Eyes Improving Program For Uninsured Adults; Minn. And Okla. Confront Health Spending Cuts

Des Moines Register: "Poor, uninsured adults from throughout Iowa could receive health care at nearby hospitals and clinics, instead of having to travel to Iowa City, under proposed changes to a state health-care program. For most Iowa residents, the IowaCare program pays for medical care only at University of Iowa Hospitals. For Polk County residents, the program also covers care at Broadlawns Medical Center. The rules mean western Iowans must travel hundreds of miles to receive health care under the program. Legislators this spring will consider loosening those rules, but only if federal officials would help pay for the changes. About 33,500 Iowans are covered by the program, which offers basic health care to poor adults who don't qualify for Medicaid" (Leys, 1/7). 

Minneapolis Star Tribune: "Hospitals, cities, schools and social agencies all have a stake in the outcome of a legal fight over Gov. Tim Pawlenty's power to cut their budgets. But whether they join the battle depends on a variety of considerations, including one intangible: fear of reprisal. Organizations and government agencies that depend on state money are mindful that they could win a court battle over Pawlenty's unconventional budget cuts, but suffer more conventional cuts by the governor later. ... Pawlenty spokesman Brian McClung said Wednesday that there would be no such retaliation" (Doyle, 1/6). 

The Associated Press/ABC News, on mental health cuts that could affect Oklahoma communities: "Further cuts to Oklahoma's mental health budget would be a false economy because the responsibility - and cost - of caring for those who need treatment would simply pass to other state and local agencies, the mental health commissioner warned Wednesday. Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Commissioner Terri White said her agency has already cut $16 million from its budget and that additional cuts will force it to reduce programs and turn away some of the 55,000 people who receive treatment and recovery services every year. ... Gov. Brad Henry and lawmakers have said they want to protect funding for core state serves such as education, transportation, public safety and health care. Henry has said he believes mental health and substance abuse services qualify as an essential state service" (Talley, 1/6).

The Associated Press/ABC News, on West Virginia and mental health issues: "West Virginia is trying to 'destroy' one of its largest providers of mental health services, according to a federal civil rights lawsuit Northwood Health Systems plans to file. The Wheeling-based company, which treats roughly 3,000 people in three Northern Panhandle counties, alleges it is being retaliated against for speaking out on health care issues last year, and singles out Gov. Joe Manchin as leading the effort to punish it. The company filed a notice of intent to sue on Tuesday, saying it plans to file suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia in 30 days. Northwood has been operating since October without a license, which it was denied by the Office of Health Facility Licensure and Certification. The state agency declined to renew Northwood's license citing concerns over patient treatment" (Breen, 1/6).

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