State Roundup: U.S. Senators Demand More Medical Board Oversight; Californians Losing Coverage; Arizona’s Prison ‘Quandary’
The Connecticut Mirror: Connecticut Insurers Wary Of Obama's Contraceptive Plan
"The administration never consulted us," said Susan Millerick, spokeswoman for the Hartford-based Aetna. Other Connecticut health insurers are letting the American Health Insurance Plans, a Washington-based trade association, voice their concerns. ... "We are concerned about the precedent this proposed rule would set," [AHIP spokesman Robert] Zirkelbach said (Radelat, 2/16).
Minneapolis Star Tribune: U.S. Senators Ask For More Oversight Of Medical Boards
Three U.S. Senators have asked federal health officials to review the way state medical boards regulate the nation's physicians. The request was prompted by recent reports from a citizen's watchdog group and three newspapers, including the Star Tribune, that "highlighted disturbing failures of state medical boards to discipline physicians," the senators said (Meryhew and Howatt, 2/16).
California Healthline: More Uninsured Could Put Pressure on State
A UCLA Center for Health Policy Research report showed that 670,000 Californians lost employer-based health insurance in 2008 and 2009. That is a far cry from the earlier estimate of 2 million newly uninsured in the state. ... A majority -- if not all -- of those working-age Californians who lost coverage over that two-year period could have been considered residents of "Main Street" (Gorn, 2/17).
Chicago News Cooperative/The New York Times: Illinois Medicaid Cuts Will Hit a System Already in Crisis
Dental services are among the benefits lawmakers are considering cutting as they look for ways to reduce the cost of the state’s health care system for the poor. ... From the enrollment of patients through treatment and payment, the Medicaid program in Illinois has been plagued by fraud, inefficiency, unsustainable costs and a paralyzing political climate with often-competing doctor, hospital and health care lobbies (McQuery, 2/17).
Stateline: Illinois Tightens Medicaid Without Federal Approval
The 2010 federal health law has a so-called “maintenance of effort” requirement, which expressly prohibits states from doing anything that would reduce the number of people who qualify for Medicaid. But it’s not clear whether the ban includes measures aimed at winnowing out people whose incomes are too high or who don’t actually live within the state’s borders (Vestal, 2/17).
Arizona Republic: Arizona Prisons In Health-Care Quandary
[The Arizona Department of Corrections] is expected shortly to award a three-year contract to provide medical and mental-health care for the nearly 34,000 inmates in Arizona's 10 state-run prisons. Lawmakers adopted legislation two years ago and revised it last year, requiring Corrections to privatize the health-care system regardless of whether it saves money. But the choices are between two companies with checkered records and a third company that has no track record in correctional health care (Ortega, 2/16).
The Associated Press/Boston Globe: Vt. Health Bill Builds Risk Pool, Limits Choice
Business lobbyists are turning up the heat on the administration of Gov. Peter Shumlin to detail the costs of the governor's ambitious health insurance plan, now that three possible benefit packages have been made public. "You should be as transparent as you can so that we can understand the changes that may be coming," said Jim Harrison, president of the 600-member Vermont Grocers' Association (Gram, 2/16).
Denver Post: Colorado Senate Hearing On Medical Debt Packed
Consumer advocates and patients buried by towering medical bills called for transparency in hospital costs and limits on charges to those lacking insurance at a Colorado Senate hearing Thursday. Patient advocates cited heart attack sufferers refusing ambulance transport to avoid sticking family members with bills, and hospitals alternating harsh debt collections with mysterious, arbitrary discounts (Booth, 2/16).
WBUR's CommonHealth blog: Must-See Video: What If Your Hotel Bill Was Like A Hospital Bill?
A month after his stay, the hotel guest has just gotten a horrifying bill in the mail for $20,000. He reaches Paolo, chief financial manager of “Hotel Hopital, where you let us care for you,” and demands to know how the bill could be so high ... It’s a delicious and enlightening five minutes, this new video (Goldberg, 2/16).
Georgia Health News: Health Proposals: For Some, They're Personal
Nine years ago, Carla Harrison of Augusta weighed 381 pounds. ... Then, in 2003, she had gastric bypass surgery, paid for by her health insurance. ... In all, she lost about 200 pounds. ... Harrison came to the state Capitol on Wednesday to testify to lawmakers about the state’s removal of bariatric surgery as a covered benefit in the state employees’ health plan (Miller, 2/16).
Minnesota Public Radio: HMO Enters Market In Southeastern Minn.
The first HMO to enter the Minnesota market since 1998 will offer health coverage in four southeastern counties. The Minnesota Department of Health certified Wisconsin-based Gunderson Lutheran Health Plan to operate in Fillmore, Houston, Olmsted and Winona counties. Minnesota's Department of Commerce must review and approve Gunderson's insurance (Baier, 2/16).
The Lund Report (Oregon): DOJ Memo Reveals Constitutional Concerns About Medical Liability Amendments The vote of Sen. Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose), a crucial swing vote when the Senate decided to allow the Oregon Health Authority to move ahead with creating coordinated care organizations (CCOs) and overhauling the Oregon Health Plan’s delivery system, changed at the last moment because memos from the Department of Justice and Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) revealed serious constitutional concerns about the proposed medical liability language (Waldroupe, 2/17).
Kansas Health Institute News: Committee Votes To Cut Tobacco Program Spending
A House budget committee has recommended spending an additional $635,000 on the state’s safety-net clinics. To pay for the increase, the committee voted to cut funding for smoking prevention and cessation programs by almost 64 percent (Ranney, 2/16).
Related, earlier KHN story: Kansas Tobacco Prevention Funds Diverted To Other Uses (Thompson, 1/20)
Minneapolis Star Tribune: Clinic Mergers Shaking Up The Medical Office Market
Independent clinics are integrating into larger systems in an era of tighter federal reimbursement dollars. That means there will be greater cooperation among health care providers, real estate brokers say. "I'm not surprised when the bigger systems acquire general practices, but I didn't think I'd see as many higher-end specialty practices being acquired as I did last year," said Jill Rasmussen of the Davis Group (Jacobson, 2/16).
The Washington Post: Maryland Hospitals To Share Patient Data
Maryland’s 46 acute-care hospitals will soon be able to share basic patient information among themselves and with credentialed doctors, a key step that health officials and clinicians say will improve patient care and cut costs (Sun, 2/16).
Chicago Tribune: Health Officials Backtrack, Say Nursing Home Did Notify Them About Death
The Illinois Department of Public Health made a mistake when it said Wednesday that an Oak Park nursing home failed to notify the state about an altercation between two residents that left an Alzheimer’s patient dead, an official said today (Meyer, 2/17).
The Washington Post: United Medical Center Seeks $15 Million From The D.C. Government
United Medical Center is requesting an additional $15 million from D.C. taxpayers to help finance a turnaround, likely renewing debate about whether the city should own a cash-starved hospital (Craig, 2/16).