KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Roundup: Ariz. Gov. Proposing Hospital Tax For Medicaid Expansion As Nev. Ponders Options

Health policy news from Arizona, California, North Carolina, Nevada, Ohio, Colorado, Kansas and Georgia.

The New York Times: Medicaid Expansion Is Delicate Maneuver For Arizona's Republican Governor
[Ariz. Gov. Jan] Brewer, who has become something of a conservative icon for her aggressive opposition to Mr. Obama's policies, surprised many Legislature watchers at her State of the State address last week by saying she wanted to expand the state’s Medicaid program to include anyone who makes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, or $14,856 for an individual. The risk if Arizona does otherwise, she said, is losing the federal funds and the health care jobs that come with the changes. It could be simply a case of math trumping ideology (Santos, 1/19).

The Associated Press/USA Today: Arizona To Tax Hospitals To Pay For Medicaid
Brewer is believed to be the first governor to publicly come up with a way to fund the controversial Medicaid expansion. Not even California Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat in a state that largely supports the new federal health plan, has figured out how to pay for a boosted Medicaid plan. Her proposal to add about 300,000 low-income Arizonans to her state's Medicaid plan relies on funding from hospitals through a so-called provider tax (Christie, 1/20).

The Associated Press: Medicaid Cost Sharing Will Be Hot Debate In Nevada
Gov. Brian Sandoval's recommendation that Medicaid recipients share in the cost of care has been met with criticism from advocates for the poor, but the agency chief who oversees Nevada's complex social safety net programs says such requirements are not a new concept (Chereb, 1/19).

The Associated Press: Report: California Not Ready To Control Inmate Health Care
It's too soon for California to retake control of its prison mental health system, a federal court overseer said Friday in dealing a blow to a proposal made by Gov. Jerry Brown last week. Too many inmates are still committing suicide and going untreated for their mental illness in California prisons, special master Matthew Lopes said in a 609-page report filed Friday in federal court in Sacramento (Thompson, 1/19).

The Associated Press: Ohio Health Insurance Company Sues State, Feds Over Health Care Power Struggle
An Ohio health insurance company is suing state and federal officials over confusion in rules for a program for patients with pre-existing conditions. At issue is a high-risk insurance pool created by President Barack Obama's health care law targeting patients turned away by insurance companies because of such conditions as cancer or heart disease. The pool is meant to act as a temporary patch until 2014, when the federal law will require insurers to accept all applicants, regardless of medical history (Sanner, 1/18).

The Associated Press: Hospitals Join To Take Big Health Overhaul Step
The two big academic medical centers serving Vermont, often seen as rivals in the past, announced Friday they are joining forces with 13 other Vermont hospitals and health clinics to form a new "accountable care organization" -- OneCare Vermont -- to focus on efficiency and quality in health care. The federal Affordable Care Act of 2010 called for the creation of such ACOs, which are designed to change the way doctors and hospitals are paid (Gram, 1/18).

Health Policy Solutions (a Colo. news service): Health Disparities In Colorado Huge, Persistent, Complex
The gap in the infant mortality rate is just one measurement by which the state’s largest groups of ethnic and racial minorities trail whites, and it is an anomaly unto itself. Colorado's infant mortality rate is lower than the national average for whites and significantly higher than the national average for Latinos and blacks. And an I-News examination of more than a decade of health data found those disparities are widening (Vaughan, 1/21). 

California Healthline: California Behind National Curve In Care For Chronically Ill Children
California is behind the national curve in caring for chronically ill children, according to a study released last week by the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health based in Palo Alto. In particular, the coordination of care and access to specialists for California's chronically ill children ranks among the worst six states in the nation, according to the study. ... The study estimated about 1 million children under age 18 have a chronic health care need, such as asthma or diabetes (Gorn, 1/22). 

The Associated Press: [N.C.] State Health Officials Waited Five Days Before Informing Public Of Meningitis Threat
Days after investigators linked a deadly cluster of rare fungal meningitis cases in Tennessee to tainted back pain medication, state officials received an urgent email from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The federal health agency said North Carolina had a possible fungal meningitis case with links to the Tennessee outbreak. If true, the CDC said it would confirm a "broader contamination issue" (1/21).

Kansas Health Institute: Local Health Departments Fret Cutback In State HIV Testing
The state health department earlier this month stopped analyzing HIV tests for many of the state's medium and small counties and also stopped providing rapid or oral test kits, which is creating a new burden for cash-strapped health departments and creating some uncertainty whether they can continue testing for the disease in some rural locations around Kansas (Shields, 1/21).

Georgia Health News: Marvel Of Telemedicine Includes Stroke Care
Georgia's telemedicine network is a jewel in the state's health care infrastructure. It's delivering medical care in rural areas, using high-definition cameras to illuminate problem areas and transmit them to a doctor hours away with clear pictures. The examinations can range from skin problems to behavioral health issues (Miller, 1/18).

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