KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Roundup: N.Y. Malpractice Fight; Costly Prisoners In Calif.; Abortion Battles

The New York Times: Proposed Malpractice Limits Face A Fight In Albany
Last week, hospital leaders stood alongside Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo at the Capitol, pledging their support for billions in cuts proposed by his Medicaid redesign team. ... Among the scores of proposals recommended by the Medicaid committee are limits on medical malpractice cases that, in the long term, could save hospitals about as much money annually as they would immediately lose from the governor's cuts (Kaplan, 3/2).

Los Angeles Times: Jerry Brown Taps Trusted Former Aide For Key Cabinet Position
[Diane] Dooley heads an agency with a budget of $83.5 billion, roughly the size of the state's general fund. It is a bureaucracy in the midst of two simultaneous transformations: She'll be slashing billions of dollars from healthcare and welfare services for the poor while rushing to implement the 2010 federal healthcare overhaul to provide medical insurance for an estimated 8 million Californians who have no coverage (York, 3/3).

Health News Florida: Scott Agrees To Accept $35.7M Federal Grant
The Agency for Health Care Administration won the "Money Follows the Person" grant from the Department of Health and Human Services on Feb. 22. Florida was one of 13 states that won the grants, which pay for services that enable people who are mentally or physically disabled to get out or stay out of nursing homes. The money was allocated through the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – the same law that Florida is contesting in federal court. ... "The state will not be drawing down any dollars that bring about the implementation of ObamaCare," [Gov. Scott spokeswoman Amy Graham explained in an e-mail], using opponents' slang term for the Act (Gentry, 3/3).

The Miami Herald: Jackson Health Could Lose $150 Million In Funding
Jackson Health System executives, already facing severe cash shortages, begged Miami-Dade legislators Wednesday to fight a proposed state budget that would cut another $150 million to $240 million in state funding next year from the county's public hospital. … with an estimated state budget shortfall of $3.6 billion, delegation members said they couldn't commit to rescuing Jackson from cuts (Dorschner, 3/2).

Connecticut Mirror: Dentists Cheer Plans To Limit, Not Eliminate, Medicaid Coverage
Under Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's budget proposal, dental benefits for adults in Medicaid would be scaled back, including covering only one annual periodic exam, cleaning and bitewing X-ray for health adults. The changes are projected to save $20.1 million over two years. Many adults in Medicaid struggle to find dentists to treat them because the rates paid are so low. When the state's fiscal situation improves, [Dr. Jonathan Knapp, co-chairman of the state dental association] said, the dental association would like to see the Medicaid coverage restored and enhanced (Becker, 3/2).

The Baltimore Sun: Single-Payer Health Care Pushed For Maryland
The idea of a single-payer health care system was lost in the debate over the much-amended national health care reform passed by Congress last year, but three Howard County delegates are co-sponsors of legislation in this year's General Assembly that seeks to bring the idea to fruition in the Free State. The concept involves having everyone in the state get health care through one single insurance pool to which everyone pays premiums. It eliminates the variety of insurance companies that now offer coverage only to those insured through an employer or who can pay (Carson, 3/2).

The Baltimore Sun: Abortion Opponents Want Tighter Regulations
[Many stories were] presented by anti-abortion activists Wednesday as they made their case for tighter regulations on abortion clinics in Maryland. ... The Maryland Catholic Conference and several other anti-abortion groups want the state to hold abortion clinics to the same standards as outpatient surgery centers. Virginia's legislature recently passed a similar measure. ... Opponents called the proposal a thinly disguised effort to shut abortion clinics down (Linskey, 3/2).

The Wall Street Journal: Abortion Disclosure Bill Passes
The[New York] City Council approved legislation on Wednesday requiring crisis pregnancy centers to disclose whether they perform abortions, setting the stage for a legal battle with abortion-rights opponents who denounced the bill as a violation of their First Amendment rights. ... Bill supporters say they are targeting centers that sound as if they might offer abortions, but are really operated by abortion opponents (Saul, 3/3).

The Seattle Times: Kreidler Accuses Premera Of 'Stonewalling' On Transparency Bill 
Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler says he wants to end the "secrecy of health-insurance rates" but can't under the current state law, which protects from public scrutiny the figures and formulas divulged by insurers trying to raise their rates. That information includes how much money their health plan lost, how much of the proposed rate is going to medical claims, how much is going to administrative costs and how much to profit (Ostrom, 3/2).

The Boston Globe: AG To Review Exit Pay For Blue Cross Executive
Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley said yesterday that her office has begun an investigation into the employment contract and severance package given to Cleve L. Killingsworth, former chief executive of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, by the board of the nonprofit health insurer. The review was launched a day after the state's largest health plan disclosed that Killingsworth collected $8.6 million in total compensation last year, including $1.4 million in severance pay, after resigning unexpectedly from the top post at the Boston-based insurance carrier (Weisman, 3/3).

Los Angeles Times: 10 Hospitalized Prisoners To Get Prompt Hearings Under Medical Parole Law, Receiver Says
The federal receiver overseeing California's prisons says inmates who no longer pose a threat to public safety will be scheduled for hearings under a law meant to save taxpayers the yearly $800,000-per-inmate cost of round-the-clock supervision (Dolan, 3/3).

ProPublica: Ohio Moves to Make Drug Companies Report Payments to Doctors
A proposed law in Ohio would require pharmaceutical companies to report their gifts and payments to doctors, reports MedCity News. ... The bill would require drug companies to disclose annually to the state any "gift, fee, payment, subsidy, or other economic benefit" to licensed health care professionals, health care facilities, pharmacists, or health benefit plan administrators (Wang, 3/2).

MinnPost: Attention Lawmakers: This State-Funded Project Has Created No Companies
Minnesota's medical-device trade group thought it was making the case to preserve state funding for a treasured genomics -research collaboration when it told lawmakers the project help create a new company. The problem? No such company exists. … LifeScience Alley and many others in the Minnesota medical industry would like to keep $8 million in the state budget for the Minnesota Partnership for Bioscience and Medical Genomics, which is a collaboration between the University of Minnesota and the Mayo Clinic. … The state has invested more than $80 million to date since early in the last decade (Parmar, 3/2).

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