KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Roundup: Budget Cuts To Affect Health Care For State Workers, Disabled, Elderly

The Wall Street Journal: Budget Pushes Christie's Goals
A year after making a name for himself by slashing spending, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie presented a $29.4 billion budget on Tuesday that makes nips and tucks to programs-notably Medicaid-but puts much of the state in a holding pattern. ... His Medicaid proposal to save at least $300 million, for example, hinges on a waiver from the Obama administration from federal eligibility requirements (Fleisher, 2/23).

The Philadelphia Inquirer: Medicaid, Unions Take Hits In N.J. Budget
In his speech Tuesday, Christie went right at public workers, extending a battle that has been waged since his gubernatorial campaign. He proposed that employees pay 30 percent of their health-care premiums. … State health care took another hit, with a 15 percent cut to the Department of Health and Senior Services. A modestly sized agency already, the health department's biggest expenditure is providing long-term care to the elderly (Osborne, 2/23).

Minnesota Public Radio: GOP Lawmaker Backs Off On Trying To Repeal Medicaid Expansion
Gov. Dayton ordered the expansion to cover 95,000 people who are currently either on state health care programs or who have no health insurance. Sen. David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, joined other Republicans in objecting to expansion. But Hann said Tuesday that he will no longer push to repeal the expansion because it would make the state's budget deficit worse (Scheck, 2/22).

Kaiser Health News / NPR: Pa. Closing State Health Plan For Low-Income Adults
Pennsylvania's adultBasic insurance was created in 2001 and is one of only a handful of health plans funded entirely by states to provide coverage to low-income adults who do not qualify for Medicaid, the joint federal-state health insurance for the poor. Such individuals will be eligible for either subsidized private coverage or be covered by an expansion of Medicaid under the new federal health law, but those provisions do not kick in until 2014 (Gold, 2/23).

California Healthline: Future Uncertain for Adult Day Health Care Services
The verdict is in, and it looks like almost all proposed health services budget cuts have been approved by the budget subcommittees. The biggest dun came at Medi-Cal's expense -- it was cut by $1.5 billion, primarily from lowering the provider reimbursement rate for Medi-Cal by 10%, and by raising rates for patient co-payments. ... But one major piece of the health cuts remains undecided. The Senate subcommittee approved elimination of the adult day health care program (except for a block grant of $25 million), while the Assembly subcommittee proposed keeping the program (Gorn, 2/22).

Health News Florida: 'Medically Needy' May Get The Ax
As Gov. Rick Scott and Florida lawmakers struggle with massive budget problems, they are resurrecting an old idea: Chop the Medically Needy program. The program, which serves about 40,000 people with debilitating illnesses and staggering medical bills, survived past attempts to dramatically cut its funding. … Hospitals are already gearing up to fight the cuts, which officials estimated Tuesday could cost the industry about $800 million a year. … But Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Chairman Joe Negron, R-Stuart, said last week the state doesn't have the money to pay for all the services it has in the past (Saunders, 2/23).

Connecticut Mirror: Once Bipartisan Favorites, Community Health Centers Facing Cuts From Both Parties
Not long ago, leaders of the state's community health centers were busy renovating facilities, hiring staff and expanding hours to treat more patients, bolstered by millions of dollars in government funding and the likelihood of getting millions more. Now they're bracing for potential cuts in federal and state aid and adjusting to a new political reality. The package of federal spending cuts that passed the House Saturday would eliminate funding for new health centers in Danbury, Norwalk, Putnam and Torrington ... And Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's proposed budget calls for health centers to lose more than $3.8 million a year in state funding (Becker, 2/22).

McClatchy / Modesto Bee: California's Uninsured's Numbers Surge During Recession
A health care crisis is sweeping the Central Valley of California, devastating middle-class and poor families and threatening to overwhelm the region's fragile safety net. The deep recession has pushed the ranks of the uninsured here to unprecedented levels. At the same time, a dire state budget deficit has forced lawmakers to drastically scale back or eliminate key health care programs for the state's poorest residents (Wiener and Carlson, 2/22).

Kansas Health News: State's Medicaid HIT Plan Behind Schedule
The Kansas Medicaid program's health information technology plan is months behind schedule. If it's not completed by August, as many as 2,800 physicians and 70 hospitals could face delays in receiving millions of dollars of federal incentive payments. The so-called SMHP - or State Medicaid Health Information Technology Plan - is a federally mandated first step for states before they can begin Medicaid-based incentive payments to health providers that have implemented Electronic Health Records. The incentives complement similar Medicare-based incentives for providers who adopt EHRs (Cauthon, 2/22).

The Boston Globe: Caritas Owner Widens Its Aims
Steward Health Care System, a company formed just months ago to run the newly privatized Caritas Christi hospitals, is making an aggressive effort to expand nationally with a $1.1 billion bid for medical facilities in Florida. Steward, which was created after the New York private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management bought six Catholic hospitals in Massachusetts last November, sent a letter of intent Monday, offering to take over the financially troubled Jackson Health System in Miami for $600 million in cash and $500 million to cover debt (Healy, 2/23).

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.