KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Roundup: States’ Angst And Anger Continues About Medicaid, Health Spending Cuts

The New York Times: Feeling Budget Pinch, States Cut Insurance
Ken Kewley woke up Tuesday without health insurance for the first time in nearly nine years. So did most of the 41,467 other Pennsylvanians who had been covered by adultBasic, a state-subsidized insurance program for the working poor that Gov. Tom Corbett shut down on Monday in one of the largest disenrollments in recent memory (Sack, 3/1).

The Wall Street Journal: Wisconsin Governor Seeks Deep Cuts
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker proposed a two-year budget Tuesday cutting more than $1.25 billion in state aid to schools and local governments, part of a broad proposed reduction in state spending of nearly 7 percent. ... The governor suggested unspecified cuts to Medicaid, the joint state-federal health care program for the poor. He said some Medicaid recipients would have to start contributing co-pays and premiums (Merrick and Maher, 3/2).

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Budget Would Make Benefits Cuts To Medicaid, W-2, Wisconsin Shares
About 55,000 people could lose their health insurance under the state's BadgerCare program, under Gov. Scott Walker's budget plan released Tuesday. ... In an effort to slow the growth in spending on Medicaid, Walker says he will seek permission from the federal government to tighten eligibility standards and would cut off people faster who are found no longer eligible. If the federal government does not give the state permission to toughen its standards in determining who gets Medicaid, the state would eliminate coverage to families that earn more than 133 percent of the federal poverty level on July 1, 2012. That threshold currently is $24,352 a year for a family of three (Schultze and Romell, 3/1).

Kaiser Health News: Ariz. Medicaid Cuts Spur Debate Over Impact On Providers
Arizona's plan to cut about a quarter million adults from Medicaid would lead to uninsured patients crowding emergency rooms, hospitals slashing services and laying off thousands of workers and health plans increasing premiums to make up for lost revenue, health providers say. Arizona Republicans and conservative groups backing the move say there will be some pain but the impact will not be that dramatic (Galewitz, 3/1).

The Texas Tribune: Guy Clifton: The TT Interview
When Texas lawmakers talk about containing health care costs, it's a good bet they've picked the brain of Dr. Guy Clifton, a Houston neurosurgeon turned health care policy expert. But the author of "Flatlined: Resuscitating American Medicine" - who has guided Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst on his pet payment reform legislation - says the Legislature's effort to balance the budget by slashing Medicaid rates is misguided (Ramshaw, 3/2).

Minnesota Public Radio: At Capitol Rally, Minn. Nurses Speak Out Against Anti-Union Bills
Hundreds of Minnesota nurses rallied at the State Capitol Tuesday to draw attention to nursing and the latest anti-union developments out of Wisconsin. ... Linda Hamilton, president of the Minnesota Nurses Association, warned Minnesota nurses that [Gov. Scott] Walker's idea is already spreading across the border. ... Hamilton said there is already a proposal in the Minnesota Legislature that would allow licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and paramedics to perform some duties that are currently performed by registered nurses (Benson, 3/1).

MinnPost: Advocates For Those With Disabilities Call For Continued State Support
Saying that services for people with disabilities feel like "political hockey pucks" in state budget negotiations, the ARC of Minnesota urged Gov. Mark Dayton and state legislators to protect important state-funded support services (Kimball, 3/1).

The Texas Tribune: Protesters Block Texas Governor's Office (Video)
A dozen protesters from disability rights group ADAPT gathered at Gov. Rick Perry's office this afternoon to block the entrances. Organizers say they won't leave until Perry pledges to oppose cuts to community services (Dehn and Tan, 3/1).

Florida Health News: DOH Plan Cuts 1,600 Jobs
Under fire from lawmakers, the Florida Department of Health has proposed a sweeping plan to reorganize - and shrink - its operations. ... In one major change, the report calls for the state to stop paying for primary care services at county health departments. The proposal would save about $22.3 million and comes as some state officials want to rely more on federally qualified health centers to provide primary care (Saunders, 3/2).

Los Angeles Times: Despite Medical Parole Law, Hospitalized Prisoners Are Costing Taxpayers Millions
Authorities have identified 25 "permanently medically incapacitated" inmates being treated at outside hospitals who are candidates for parole because they no longer pose a threat to the public. Californians will pay more than $50 million to treat them this year, between $19 million and $21 million of that for guards' salaries, benefits and overtime, according to data from the federal receiver who oversees California prison health care (Dolan, 3/2).

San Francisco Chronicle: Blue Shield Review Says Its Rates Are Reasonable
In response to public criticism about its plan to hike rates as high as 59 percent, Blue Shield of California hired a consultant to do a review. The results are in, and the report says Blue Shield's proposed rate increases are "reasonable, not excessive" and comply with the requirements of state and federal regulators. ...This isn't the final word on the subject. The state Department of Insurance has yet to release its own review. ... Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones seemed skeptical about the consultant's report (Colliver, 3/1).

WBUR: Departed Blue Cross CEO Nets A Total Of $11.3M
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts released details Tuesday of an $11.3 million compensation payment made to its former CEO, Cleve Killingsworth, when he agreed to leave the company last year. ... [Blue Cross Senior Vice President Jay McQuaide said] "We also understand that affordability is the central issue facing the community today and that we need to lead by example." That example, McQuaide says, is a less generous payment package for current CEO Andrew Dreyfus. His base salary is 25 percent less than what Killingsworth earned and the company is reducing the retirement and severance packages as well (Bebinger, 3/1).

Georgia Health News: Kidney, Expensive Drug Boost Health Of Cumming Boy
Hyde Talbot's young life has been one medical complication after another, the result of a rare genetic defect that eventually rendered his kidneys useless. ... Now, thanks to a new kidney donated by his uncle – and with the assistance of a new and very expensive drug – the 4-year-old from Cumming and his family may finally be getting some sense of normalcy in their lives. ... The high cost of Hyde's treatment – his mother estimates that the family's insurance plan and other payers have spent more than $700,000 already – illustrates how expensive that breakthroughs in lifesaving care can be. The family's health insurance plan has a lifetime cap of $2 million, which could easily be exceeded in the next few years (King, 2/28).

Kansas Health Institute News: State's First Community-Wide HIE Lands Commitments From Major Providers
Representatives from Wichita's largest medical providers officially signaled their intent to participate in the state's first community-wide health information exchange. The hospitals and clinics participating so far represent some 300 physicians, more than a quarter of those in the state's most populated county. ... The WHIE is one of the two major community health information exchanges organized in Kansas so far (the other is eHealth Align in the Kansas City metro area). An HIE is a network over which electronic health information is exchanged among a patient's various medical providers (Cauthon, 3/1).

The Baltimore Sun: Baltimore Loses Federal Lead-Paint Funding
Baltimore, where thousands of buildings contain lead-based paint that can poison young children, has lost federal funding for abatement programs due to mismanagement of its most recent grant, officials said Monday. Department of Housing and Urban Development officials told The Baltimore Sun that the city health department failed to fix up enough homes under the latest $4 million grant, which expired in January, and as a result the city was deemed a "high-risk" grantee ineligible to receive more funds (Wheeler and Calvert, 2/28).

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