State Roundup: Mass. Lawmakers Fight Medicare Charges
A selection of health policy stories from around the United States.
Los Angeles Times: Monterey County Hospital Group To Award More Large Retirement Packages
A Monterey County hospital district, which came under fire last year for giving its chief executive one of the largest public pensions in California history, announced this week that several other top officials are receiving generous retirement packages (Allen, 2/1).
The Associated Press: Vt. Struggles To Rebuild Mental Health System
The remnants of Hurricane Irene did what policymakers hadn't been able to accomplish for more than a decade — close the state's antiquated psychiatric hospital. The storm flooded much of the state Aug. 28, including the complex containing the Vermont State Hospital in the north-central town of Waterbury, but it's still raining down on the mental health system (Gram, 1/31).
Politico Pro: Mass. Lawmakers Counter Medicare Charges
Members of Massachusetts's congressional delegation on Tuesday pushed back against charges that their hometown hospitals had gamed Medicare for billions of dollars by shifting scores of medical centers into a higher wage index rate — and making hospitals across the country pick up the fiscal slack. In a letter to the White House, 11 of the state's 12 congressional members counter accusations that Bay State hospitals unfairly benefited under an Affordable Care Act provision that meant that when certain hospitals gain, the losses get spread out to other hospitals nationwide to preserve budget neutrality (DoBias, 1/31).
Denver Post: New Regional Behemoth In Health Care Will Be Called University Of Colorado Health
The University of Colorado Hospital and the Poudre Valley Health System said Tuesday that they are joining forces to form a health care system called University of Colorado Health. With annual net revenue of $1.5 billion, the venture will be one of the region's largest locally owned health systems, with nearly 10,000 employees (Pankratz, 2/1).
San Francisco Chronicle: Kaiser Workers Stage 24-Hour Walkout
About 4,000 Kaiser mental health and optical workers went on strike Tuesday at Kaiser hospitals throughout the state as part of 24-hour work stoppage to protest their frustration over working conditions and proposed benefit cuts. Thousands of registered Kaiser nurses in the California Nurses Union joined the workers, who are represented by the National Union of Healthcare Workers, in an act of solidarity. Some 650 facility maintenance workers from Stationary Engineers Local 39 also agreed to the sympathy strike, bringing the total to 22,000 workers and making it one of the largest strikes in Kaiser's history (Colliver, 2/1).
HealthyCal: California Website Offers Help On Long Term Care Coverage
As California's population continues to age, state officials are urging residents to do something human beings frequently find agonizing: Plan for that time in their twilight years when they may need assistance getting out of bed, visiting the bathroom and dressing themselves. That's the impetus behind the five-month-old website RUReadyCA.org, which is managed by the California Partnership for Long-Term Care, a joint venture of the state Department of Health Care Services and a trio of insurance companies that sell long-term care policies in the state (Sample, 1/31).
Health News Georgia: Doctors Get Paid More For "Medical Home"
WellPoint, the parent company of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia, announced a plan last week for raising primary care pay. Blue Cross, Georgia's largest health insurer with more than 2 million members in the state, said it will launch this "patient-centered medical home"’ payment plan in the state next year. … Meawhile, Aetna, a Hartford, Conn.-based insurer with 600,000 members in Georgia, announced a plan Monday to pay some primary care physicians an extra $2 to $3 per member per month. In both cases, the insurers are focusing on the medical home concept, which designates a specific primary care doctor's practice as the patient's "home" (Miller, 1/31).
Kansas Health Institute: Nursing Home Administrators Pan Abuse Hotline
Nursing home administrator Greta Wakefield called the state's Adult Protective Services hotline after a man told her his wife would be better off dead than in the nursing home and refused to let her stay any longer. "He said 'If she's lucky, she'll just die on the way home,'" Wakefield said Tuesday, testifying before the House Aging and Long-term Care Committee. The hotline is administered by the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services. People are encouraged to use it to alert officials of actual or potential abuse or neglect of elderly or disabled persons (Ranney, 1/31).