State Roundup: Health Jobs Brighten Local Economies, But Workers Pay More For Care
A roundup of health policy news from California, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Massachusetts, Florida and Colorado.
Los Angeles Times: Healthcare Jobs Fuel Revival In Pittsburgh
About 1 in 5 private-sector employees works in health services, which has replaced manufacturing as the region's powerhouse. It's a transformation happening across the U.S., but many worry about long-term side effects (Lee, 5/13).
Arizona Republic: Arizona Funding Will Restore Help For Mentally Ill
New state funding for Arizonans with serious mental illnesses returns some of the services they lost two years ago and paves the way for a temporary agreement in a decades-old class-action lawsuit. The budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1, which Gov. Jan Brewer signed Monday, includes $38.7 million to restore housing, counseling and other services to people with serious mental illnesses who don't qualify for Medicaid (Reinhart, 5/11).
Boston Globe: Employers Shift More Health Costs To Workers
An analysis by the Division of Health Care Finance and Policy found that 27 percent of people in Massachusetts who got insurance through the small-group market at the end of 2010 were in a plan with a lower "actuarial value,"’ meaning the deductibles and copayments were among the highest on the market. That was up from 2 percent in the first quarter of 2008 (Conaboy, 5/14).
Earlier, related KHN story: Quick Facts About High-Deductible Health Plans (Kulkarni, 4/27)
Modern Healthcare: Tweaking The System
Massachusetts hospitals support the state's new efforts to transform the way that healthcare is paid for, but are concerned officials may attempt to slow spending too fast ... lawmakers in Massachusetts introduced bills in the House and the Senate that would encourage a move away from a fee-for-service system and align the state's healthcare cost growth with its gross state product (Lee, 5/12).
California Watch: Lawmakers: Health Care Districts Must Unleash Bank Accounts
California lawmakers are moving to crack down on taxpayer-funded health care districts that have banked tens of millions of dollars at the expense of funding community-health projects. A bill moving through the Legislature targets the spending habits of these little-known governmental agencies that were created to run hospitals, which many of them no longer do (Mieszkowski, 5/14).
Sacramento Bee: Tough Sell For Tobacco Taxes In California
In the past decade, red and blue states alike, from Mississippi to New York, have approved more than 100 tobacco tax hikes in a desperate hunt for budget revenue. But not one has passed in California, whose 87-cent cigarette tax dropped from third-highest in the nation in 1999 to 33rd today despite the state's ongoing budget woes. That confounds health advocates (Yamamura, 5/14).
Denver Post: TriWest Healthcare Challenges Loss Of $20 Billion Pentagon Contract
TriWest Healthcare Alliance, the health insurer carrying more than 200,000 veterans and service members in Colorado, lost its contract with the Department of Defense for next year and is challenging the decision. UnitedHealthcare recently beat out TriWest in a bid for another five-year, $20 billion contract to serve clients of Tricare, the U.S. military's health program, in 20 Western states (Sherry, 5/12).
The Miami Herald: University Of Miami Job Cuts Could Have Major Impact On Research, Innovation
The Miller School of Medicine has lost $18 million so far this fiscal year, sees dire financial problems ahead and already terminated 180 temporary employees in March before Tuesday’s announcement that it is laying off up to 800 full-time employees this month. President Donna Shalala said last week that, as a result of the cuts, the medical school would stop supporting much “unfunded” research — work that isn’t backed by outside grants from organizations such as the National Institutes of Health (Dorschner, 5/12).
Boston Globe: Massachusetts Cuts County Jails' HIV Programs
The state has eliminated more than $1 million for HIV testing and education in county jails ... Sheriffs warned that the cuts will lead to eliminating staff who educate inmates about the virus; curtailing HIV testing within the jails; and ending visits by infectious disease doctors who monitor inmates’ health (Cramer, 5/14).