State Roundup: Ohio Voters Will Determine Public Employee Benefits
A selection of health care stories from around the country.
Los Angeles Times: Ohio Law Limiting Public Employee Unions' Power Faces Repeal
On Nov. 8, Ohio voters will decide the fate of the law, which allows public employees to bargain for wages and working conditions but prohibits strikes. Workers will also have to pay for healthcare insurance and pensions. The law is on hold pending the referendum (Muskal, 10/25).
Kansas Health Institute: Brownback Officials: Medicaid Managed Care Contract Being Drafted
Kansas welfare chief Rob Siedlecki told a legislative panel today that his agency has no plans to cut Medicaid provider rates this fiscal year. But he gave no similar assurance for the coming year. ... [Members of the Brownback administration] began the planning process saying they intended to cut Medicaid costs between $200 million and $400 million by fiscal 2013. ... Most budget analysts say it would be difficult or impossible to reduce the program's costs by that much without cutting rates paid to doctors and other care providers or without major cuts in services to beneficiaries (Shields, 10/25).
WBUR/CommonHealth blog: Report Finds Looming Financial Woes From MA Health Reform
A new report issued by a group of physicians who support a single-payer health care system found that the post health-reform landscape in Massachusetts is plagued by inequality and out of control costs and doesn’t bode well for national reform. The dire findings include rising health care costs that disproportionately burden lower-middle income families, no drop in emergency room visits, a “financial crisis” for the state’s safety-net hospitals and community health centers and the rise of “skimpy, inadequate” high-deductible health insurance plans (Zimmerman, 10/25).
Health News Florida: 19 FL Health Centers Win Extra Money
Nineteen of Florida's community health centers will receive a boost in federal dollars over three years to speed up Medicare patients' access to primary care, federal officials announced Monday. They said they hope that quick appointments will keep patients from resorting to hospital emergency rooms, and thus save money while improving the quality of care (10/25).
The Wall Street Journal: Insurer To Reveal Rate-Hike Data
New York's largest health insurer has agreed to publicly share the previously secret details of its requests for insurance-rate hikes, ending a standoff with state regulators. UnitedHealth would become the first insurance company operating in the state to voluntarily release proprietary details about why it wants a premium increase, under an agreement with the state Department of Financial Services announced Tuesday, officials said (Scism and Rappaport, 10/26).
Kaiser Health News/Kansas Public Radio: Between A Hygienist And A Dentist, A Hard Sell
In Kansas and a few other states, advocates and some lawmakers want to solve this problem by creating a new level of dental care. A registered dental practitioner, or RDP, would have more training than a dental hygienist, but less than a dentist. Mid-level dental providers have been practicing in Alaska since 2005, and legislation has recently passed in Minnesota to establish the new level of care. Bills have been introduced in Ohio, New Mexico, Vermont and Washington (Thompson, 10/25).
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: AIDS Drug Program Funding Enhanced
Two hundred seventy-seven low-income Georgians with HIV/AIDS will gain access to necessary drugs through a government program infused with $3 million in federal dollars to alleviate the program's wait list. The funding is roughly four times more than Georgia received last year, and reflects a growing crisis facing states with wait lists for drug-assistance programs that expand as more Americans lose their jobs and insurance. Georgia's 1,427-person wait list for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program is second in the country only to Florida, which has 3,335, according to the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (Williams, 10/25).
Georgia Health News: State Rejects Challenge To WellStar Facility
A suburban turf war between two hospital systems took another regulatory turn Tuesday, with WellStar Health System announcing that a state agency had approved its ambulatory surgery center project. ... [It] had been opposed by Northside Hospital. The two nonprofit health systems are vying for the large population of privately insured, affluent residents in the suburbs north of Atlanta. Large hospital systems also compete to have the best physician networks to maintain high patient satisfaction (Miller, 10/25).
The Connecticut Mirror: Healthy CT Seeks Federal Approval To Offer Insurance
HealthyCT, the organization established by the Connecticut State Medical Society and its association of independent physician practices, has applied for federal approval to establish a licensed nonprofit health insurance company known as a Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan, or CO-OP. The federal health reform law allows and provides funding for CO-OPs--nonprofit, member-run health insurers--to offer coverage through the exchanges, state-level marketplaces for individuals and small businesses to buy coverage (Levin Becker, 10/25).
HealthyCal: The Uninsured Line Up At An L.A. Arena Turned Hospital
The Los Angeles Sports Arena was transformed last Thursday through Sunday into a giant field hospital for some of the city’s estimated 2 million uninsured and many more who are underinsured. More than 4,000 people registered for the event, sponsored by the non-profit CareNow USA. … The sports arena mega-clinic was the fourth such CareNow event in L.A. in the last two years. Since 2009, the organization has provided more than $7 million in health care to more than 15,000 people, according to its website (Urevich, 10/26).