State News: Ore. Gov. Signs Reform Bill; Texas Seeks Early Release Of Sick Inmates
News outlets report on a variety of state health policy issues.
The Associated Press: Oregon Health Overhaul Makes Financial Promises
If Oregon's Democratic governor is right, the bill he signed Friday will improve health care and reduce costs so significantly that it could help fix the federal budget. The Obama administration is watching with keen interest — and so are critics who say Gov. John Kitzhaber's plan is just another example of government overreach (Cooper, 3/2).
The Oregonian: Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber Signs Health Care 'Transformation' Bill
A jubilant Gov. John Kitzhaber on Friday signed legislation that takes a significant step toward a health care system that he said "truly works for all of us." "It's an historic event for Oregon," the governor said. "And it's a significant day for me." Senate Bill 1580, now officially signed into law, establishes new provider groups serving Oregon Health Plan clients. The groups, called coordinated care organizations or ccos, would be designed to emphasize prevention and integrate medical, dental and mental health care (Cole, 3/2).
Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Houston Chronicle: State Seeks More Early Releases For Sick Inmates
[Dan Austin Quinn] is among a growing number of sick inmates for whom the state is seeking early medical release, known as medically recommended intensive supervision. The state says sick and elderly inmates are costly and can be better served by "free world" medical services, particularly when federal Medicaid or Medicare could help foot the bill. Some prosecutors and victims' rights advocates, however, contend that the state is trying to balance its budget on the backs of crime victims (Hunt, 3/4).
The Associated Press: Mass. Senate Hopefuls Tapping Diverse Donor Bases
Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown is relying heavily on donations from the financial services and health care sectors while his chief Democratic rival, Elizabeth Warren, is tapping the wallets of lawyers, fellow academics, union members and filmmakers. ... Brown received about $185,000 in itemized donations from doctors, nurses, dentists, medical device manufacturers, health care executives and those working for health care providers including Fallon, Harvard Vanguard, Partners Health Care, Steward Health Care, Covidien, Massachusetts General Hospital and Sanofi Aventis (LeBlanc, 3/4).
California Watch: State Court To Examine 'Pay-For-Delay' Deals By Drugmakers
California is the first state to examine whether pharmaceutical companies can pay competitors to not make or sell cheaper generic versions of their prescription drugs. The California Supreme Court last month agreed to review a 10-year-old class-action lawsuit involving the antibiotic Cipro (ciprofloxacin), which originally was manufactured by drugmaker Bayer. The suit argues that it was illegal for Bayer to pay a competitor to stay out of the market as part of a settlement in a legal dispute over the Cipro patent. The deal forced hundreds of thousands of Californians to collectively overpay millions of dollars for the drug, the lawsuit claimed (Yeung, 3/2).
WBUR's Common Health blog: Smallest Premium Hike In Over A Decade For State, Town Workers
The 375,000 state and municipal workers who get their health insurance from the state insurance plan, the so-called Group Insurance Commission, will see the lowest premium increases in more than a decade. If you're insured through the GIC, you may not even notice the 1.4 percent average increase. Premiums are barely rising, in part because patients are seeking less care. GIC director Dolores Mitchell says tough negotiations with insurers and providers are also paying off (Bebinger and Goldberg, 3/2).
Boston Globe: Salem Joins State Health Insurer Plan
Beginning July 1, Salem will be one of the latest communities north of Boston to join the Group Insurance Commission, or GIC, a move that is expected to shave $1.3 million off the city’s $12 million annual health care costs. ... Governor Deval Patrick signed a municipal health care reform law last summer that allows municipalities the power to negotiate better health plans for current and retired city workers by preventing a single union from blocking those efforts (Rice, 3/4).
Minnesota Public Radio: Health Forums To Gather Minnesotans' Views On Reform
The Citizens League and the Bush Foundation will be reaching out to gather community views this spring on how Minnesota should carry out health care reform. The Bush Foundation gave the Citizens League a $500,000 grant to conduct forums and meetings around the state. [A Bush Foundation official] said the information will be collected in a report and presented to the Minnesota Health Care Reform Task Force in August (Stawicki, 3/2).
Connecticut Mirror: Figueroa To Step Down From Universal Health Care Foundation
Juan A. Figueroa, a former state legislator who has led the Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut since 2003, is stepping down as president in September, the Meriden-based foundation announced Friday. … The foundation has been highly visible as the primary backer of the Healthcare4every1 campaign and SustiNet, a proposed state-run health insurance plan intended to compete with commercial insurance products. The movement behind it brought together a wide range of backers, including labor unions, clergy, small businesses, realtors and physicians (Levin Becker, 3/2).