KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Roundup: Calif. Exchange Board Meets; Iowa Mental Health Plan

Fox News/The Associated Press: Idaho Governor Vetoes Bill To Block Health Care Law
Republican Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter is no fan of the health care reform -- he was the first governor to sign legislation requiring his state to sue over President Obama's overhaul -- but said the bill state lawmakers passed in the 2011 session would have required Idaho to forego the creation of a state health insurance exchange (4/21). 

CNN: Idaho Governor Blocks Federal Health Care Reform Law 
Otter has issued an executive order prohibiting the state from implementing the federal health care reform law. The move Wednesday came after Otter vetoed House Bill 298, which sought to nullify the Obama administration's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or PPACA. Otter said the legislation went too far. .... Despite vetoing the bill, Otter used many of its key provisions in his executive order (4/21).

KQED: Health Insurance Exchange Board Gets to Work
The powerful board that will oversee California's new health insurance exchange meets for the first time in Sacramento today. The exchange is a centerpiece of federal health insurance reform -- it's expected to broker health coverage for four million people when it begins operations in 2014 (Varney, 4/20).

The Texas Tribune: House Gives Early OK To Health Care Compact
On Wednesday, House lawmakers put their initial stamp of approval on a health care compact ... opponents say the proposal won't get much traction in Washington, where the Obama administration is unlikely to cede authority over the programs that provide health care for children, the disabled, the elderly and the very poor. ... House Bill 5 by Rep. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, would give Texas, in conjunction with other states, governance over Medicaid and Medicare - from their funding to how they are structured, who they cover, and which benefits they provide. It is a step further than the waivers many states, including Texas, are requesting to simply get control over Medicaid's purse strings (Ramshaw, 4/20).

Minneapolis Star Tribune: DFL, GOP Both Open To Deal On Health Vouchers 
[S]ome key legislators are considering compromise over a potentially explosive Republican proposal to partly privatize Minnesota's public health care programs and require some low-income residents to buy their own insurance. If they can find common ground, it would create the nation's first such privatized state health care plan. The House and Senate have approved their own versions of the idea -- both contained in budget bills likely to be vetoed by Gov. Mark Dayton. But several DFL and GOP leaders say there may be room for agreement over one plan, which would introduce vouchers into MinnesotaCare, a form of subsidized insurance for the working poor (Wolfe, 4/20). 

The Connecticut Mirror: SustiNet Deal Reached, But Without A 'Public Option'
The Malloy administration and Democratic legislative leaders have reached an agreement on the proposed SustiNet state-run health plan, with a deal that calls for opening the state employee health plan to municipalities and some nonprofits, but not for offering insurance to the public. ... The agreement does not call for the state to combine the Medicaid and state employee and retiree health plans into a large pool, as the current legislative proposal does (Levin Becker, 4/20). 

Kansas Health Institute News: Social Service Caseloads Expected To Grow
The state's social service caseloads are expected to grow in the coming budget year despite signs of economic recovery. Also, state government will be paying a larger share of the costs after federal aid is scaled back starting July 1. Legislative budget writers got fresh caseload projections this week as they tried to craft spending plans that would be acceptable to majorities in both the House and Senate after the Legislature returns next week for the wrap-session (4/20). 

The Connecticut Mirror: Advocates For Elderly Oppose Malloy Move On Assets
Advocates for seniors are fighting a proposal by the Malloy administration that aims to save close to $30 million a year by reducing the amount of assets a person can keep if his or her spouse is in a nursing home and receiving Medicaid coverage. They say the proposal, which would reverse a change made last year, won't save the state money and would leave seniors outside nursing homes with less money to live on. Supporters say it would lead people to put money toward their own nursing home care before Medicaid begins paying, easing the burden on taxpayers (Levin Becker, 4/20). 

Des Moines Register: Iowa Senate Approves Mental Health Bill
The Iowa Senate approved a bill on a near-party line vote Wednesday that is aimed at establishing a framework to reform Iowa's mental health system. ... The legislation calls for the Iowa Department of Human Services to come up with a plan by Dec. 15 to redesign Iowa's mental health system. ... The plan calls for eight mental health regions. ... Each region would be required to encompass at least one community mental health center or federally qualified health center able to deliver psychiatric services. A region must also be close to a facility with an inpatient psychiatric unit (Petroski, 4/20). 

Minnesota Public Radio: School-Based Therapy Helps Families, Children In Need
Many children in Minnesota wait months for mental health services due to a severe shortage of providers. But some schools have managed to get their students to the front of the line by partnering directly with mental health agencies, a program that has served 8,400 children in the last two years. ... But nearly $4.8 million in annual state funding for the three-year program could be in jeopardy as state legislators debate whether to continue the service (Benson, 4/21). 

Modern Healthcare: Calif. Blues Asked To Explain Rate Hikes
The California agency that oversees HMOs has asked Blue Shield of California to explain rate increases for about 70,000 members covered by individual plans. The California Department of Managed Health Care said not-for-profit Blue Shield of California raised rates on average by 37.5%. ... In a letter to the health plan, the DMHC requested further information on how the rates were calculated, and to explain how they were deemed reasonable and justified (Vesely, 4/20). 

The Miami Herald: Pay Package For Jackson's New CEO To Be Set
The pay package of Jackson's new chief executive, Carlos Migoya, is expected to be hammered out at a committee meeting of the public hospital's governing board on Thursday morning. ... A compensation committee of the Public Health Trust, the governing body for Jackson Health System, agreed to offer the new CEO "up to $975,000'" but the decision came only after heated debate in which Miami-Dade Commission Chairman Joe Martinez said he would object strenuously to the troubled system paying that much money (Dorschner, 4/21). 

Times-Picayune: Metairie Legislator Files Bill To Ban all Abortions In State; Wants To Challenge Federal Court Ruling
Rep. John LaBruzzo, R-Metairie, has filed legislation for the regular lawmaking session opening Monday that would ban all abortions in the state and subject the doctor who performs one to prosecution on charges of feticide. ... LaBruzzo's draft of the bill would also subject the woman who has the abortion to the crime of feticide but he said that his intention was not to do that (Anderson, 4/20).

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