State Roundup: N.Y. Insurance Settlement Costing Patients?
A selection of health policy news from New York, Kansas, California, Minnesota and around the nation.
Reuters: Analysis: State Attorneys General: New Republican Power
Like the Supreme Court challenge to the Obama-sponsored healthcare law heard last month, the Arizona case is part of a larger story about an escalating battle between Republican-led states and the federal government. All but one of the 16 states that have filed "friend of the court" briefs on the Arizona side have Republican governors. Meanwhile, all of the 11 states lining up with the Obama administration are led by Democrats (Biskupic, 4/24).
The New York Times: Insurers Alter Cost Formula, And Patients Pay More
Despite a landmark settlement that was expected to increase coverage for out-of-network care, the nation's largest health insurers have been switching to a new payment method that in most cases significantly increases the cost to the patient. The settlement, reached in 2009, followed New York State's accusation that the companies manipulated data they used to price such care, shortchanging the nation’s patients by hundreds of millions of dollars (Bernstein, 4/23).
Kansas Health Institute News: Justice Dept. Takes Over Waiting List Case
Federal officials have notified advocates for the physically disabled that efforts to get Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration to address long-standing waiting lists for services have been unsuccessful. As a result, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has turned the case over to the U.S. Department of Justice. "We were told Friday afternoon," said Shannon Jones, executive director at the Statewide Independent Living Council of Kansas. "... "This is about 3,400 people who’ve been lingering and suffering on waiting lists for one, two and three years" (Ranney, 4/23).
The Sacramento Bee / CHCF Center For Health Reporting: Access Dental Execs: State Oversight Needed To Improve Sacramento's Managed Program
Recent media coverage of Sacramento County's failed dental program for poor children has sparked intense outcry ... State data show that 33 percent of Access Dental's Sacramento County members saw a dentist in fiscal 2010-11. Here are some highlights from the wide-ranging discussion with Access Dental Chief Executive Officer Reza Abbaszadeh, and James Gross, an attorney representing the plan (Bazar, 4/24).
KQED's The California Report: Calif. Considers Limiting 'Try and Fail' for Pain Drugs
Prescription painkillers known as opioids are the most widely prescribed class of medications in the country. But there's debate over their long-term effectiveness, and some patients struggle to get insurance companies to cover the drugs even when their doctors prescribe them. Now, California lawmakers are considering a bill that would address that issue (Goldberg, 4/23).
(St. Paul) Pioneer Press: Minnesota: Emergency Medicine Delivery, Via Postal Service, Will Be Tested
Public health experts will test in the Twin Cities next month whether mail carriers can quickly distribute medications during a simulated emergency. On Sunday, May 6, personnel from the U.S. Postal Service will deliver a simulated supply of the antibiotic doxycycline to some 37,000 households in four ZIP codes across the metro area (Snowbeck, 4/23).
Minneapolis Star Tribune: State Will Share $30M From UCare With Federal Government
Minnesota officials reversed course on Monday and said the state will give the federal government half of a $30 million contribution it received last year from UCare, an insurance company that contracts with the state to provide insurance for low-income and disabled people on Medicaid. The contribution, which came from UCare's excess cash reserves, has long been described by state officials as a "donation." But in recent months federal lawmakers questioned whether the U.S. Treasury should receive a portion of the money because Medicaid is funded jointly by the state and federal governments (Crosby, 4/23).
(St. Paul) Pioneer Press: Minnesota To Split $30 Million UCare With Feds
Minnesota has agreed to give the federal government about half of a $30 million payment from UCare, a Minneapolis-based health plan that manages care for patients in the state's Medicaid program. The announcement Monday, April 23, followed weeks of questioning by legislators and federal officials about why UCare funds weren't shared after the health plan made the payment in 2011. The state and federal government jointly fund Medicaid (Snowbeck, 4/24).