State Roundup: Calif., Oregon Grappling With Insurance Rate Increases; Kansas (Almost) Ready To Launch Health Info Network
The Los Angeles Times: Blue Shield Plan To Close Policies To New Customers Is Denied
California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones denied Blue Shield of California's plan to close several of its health policies to new customers, saying it violated state rules designed to protect consumers from large rate increases. ... Blue Shield, a nonprofit insurer with 3.3 million members statewide, had proposed closing off new enrollment on 22 health plans with about 152,000 customers (Terhune, 7/4).
The Oregonian: Portland-Area Regence BlueCross BlueShield Individual Members Could See Rate Hikes As High As 15.3 Percent
Individual members of Regence BlueCross BlueShield could see an average 9.6-percent rate increase statewide, requested by the insurer months after announcing network changes to cut costs. In the Portland-area, the rate increases could hit 20,000 customers in the individual health market ... Members who chose high-deductible plans in the past will see the biggest increases (Budnick, 7/3).
California Healthline: Health Reform Bills Move Through Committee
State Senator Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina) had a busy day. At Tuesday's hearing of Assembly Committee on Health, Hernandez had seven different bills heard and approved -- including two of the highest profile health care reform bills in California. One of them, SB 951, would set the essential health benefits for California under the Affordable Care Act and the other, SB 961, would reform individual coverage in the state (Gorn, 4/5).
San Jose Mercury News/CHCF Center For Health Care Reporting: Next Health Care Headache: Shortage Of Doctors
California has an unusually large number of doctors heading into retirement years. It expects a much higher-than-average rise in the health-intensive 65-and-older population. And it has one of the lowest reimbursement rates in the country for Medi-Cal, the state's primary program offering health coverage for the poor. Especially for communities already struggling with doctor shortages, the court's somewhat unexpected endorsement of the Affordable Care Act suddenly presents a steep challenge (Westphal, 7/3).
St. Louis Beacon: Carnahan’s Ballot Summary For Health Exchange Prompts Outcry From Kinder
Secretary of State Robin Carnahan’s office released ballot summary language Tuesday for two proposals set to be on the ballot later this year. Carnahan, a Democrat who is not running for re-election this year ... released a summary for a statutory change that, among other things, bars a governor from establishing a health insurance exchange through an executive order (Rosenbaum, 7/4).
Kansas Health Institute News: Statewide Health Information Network Won’t Go Live Until Mid-July
This was to be the first week that Kansas doctors and hospitals could begin exchanging electronic health records over a statewide network. But for a variety of reasons, none will do so until July 16 or later, officials now say. Laura McCrary, chief executive of the Kansas Health Information Network (KHIN), said today that the first hospitals scheduled to connect to the network were still testing their interfaces. ... Also, she said, the software vendor for KHIN was still testing how the network would handle patients who opt out of having their records exchanged by providers (Cauthon, 7/3).
Texas Tribune: HHSC Targets Premature Births In Quest To Cut Costs
A new state health program launched this week aims to reduce the number of women on Medicaid whose newborns require costly neonatal intensive care. The program establishes a 24-hour hotline for women at risk of a premature delivery — such as those who have had one before — that will advise them on how to take care of themselves during their pregnancy. The Texas Health and Human Services Commission hopes it will save the state $32.5 million within two years of its implementation (Luthra, 7/3).