KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Roundup: Mass. Mulls ‘Global Payments’; Oregon Liability Cost Studied

A roundup of news from various states, including California, Massachusetts, Iowa, Oregon, Texas, Michigan, Illinois and Georgia.

The New York Times: Massachusetts Tries To Rein In Its Health Costs
Although important details remain to be negotiated, the legislative leaders and Gov. Deval Patrick, all Democrats, are working toward a plan that would encourage flat "global payments" to networks of providers for keeping patients well, replacing the fee-for-service system that creates incentives for excessive care by paying for each visit and procedure  (Goodnough and Sack, 10/17).

Los Angeles Times: Southland Hospitals To Get Blue Shield Grants
Eighteen teams of healthcare providers will share $20 million in grants from Blue Shield of California to form new partnerships aimed at delivering medical care more efficiently, company officials said. ... The providers are setting up so-called accountable care organizations that bring together hospitals, doctors and insurers in some cases to improve patient care and cut costs (Helfand, 10/18).

Kansas Health Institute News: Rural Hospitals Between A Rock And A Hard Place
Most proposals on the [super] committee's table would cut Medicare, which provides health coverage for about 436,000 Kansans age 65 or older. Because of Kansas' disproportionately elderly population, especially in rural areas, the looming cuts are expected to have major consequences. For example, a plan from the Obama White House would reduce federal Medicare spending on critical access hospitals by $6 billion over 10 years. Kansas has 83 of those type of rural facilities, more than any other state (Shields, 10/17).

HealthyCal: Healthcare Reform Helps Bring Docs To Central Valley
A severe physician shortage in rural California is just one reason that many farm workers don't get health care. But in Stanislaus County, the Valley Consortium for Medical Education is taking on the shortfall with a boost from the federal health reform law (Urevich, 10/17).

The Lund Report: Oregon Could Have Saved $93 Million In Medical Liability Costs
If medical guidelines had been in place to protect doctors against liability, more than $93 million could have been saved in 2008 according to a study conducted by the Office of Oregon Health Policy and Research (OHPPR). It was funded with a $300,000 federal grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. ... There would have been fewer patient injuries in 2008, resulting in fewer claims if doctors had followed medically-approved guidelines, Dr. Alison Little, medical director of the Center for Evidence-Based Policy at Oregon Health & Science University, told the Oregon Patient Safety Commission last week (Thomas, 10/17).

The Associated Press/Detroit Free Press: Gov. Snyder To End Retiree Health Care For Many Lawmakers
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is getting ready to sign a bill ending retiree health care coverage for some current and all future state lawmakers. Current law allows ex-lawmakers who served at least six years in the Legislature to get health coverage once they turn 55, mostly at taxpayer expense. ... Under the new law, the retiree benefit will be eliminated for lawmakers who have not served at least six years in the Legislature before Jan. 1, 2013 (10/18).

Georgia Health News: AIDS Map Adds Georgia Data, Much Of It Grim
An interactive online map that gives a stark portrait of HIV and AIDS across the country now includes new data about the disease in Georgia. ... The map shows the much higher rates of HIV infection among blacks than whites in the state. It also shows how Georgia and the rest of the Southeast have been particularly devastated by the disease (Miller, 10/17). 

Chicago Sun-Times: Ex-DCFS Director's Friend Accused Of 'Large-Scale' Fraud Of State Funds
The state's executive inspector general on Monday alleged "large-scale fraud" involving millions of dollars in taxpayer money awarded to a health-services provider who was a "personal friend and mentor" of the recently departed director of the Department of Children and Family Services (Fusco and McKinney, 10/17).

Des Moines Register: Wellmark Seeks Average 9.35% Rate Increase
Tens of thousands of Iowans are about to get bad news in the mail: The state's largest health-insurer wants to raise their premiums by an average of 9.35 percent. Wellmark Blue Cross/Blue Shield, which writes three-quarters of the state's individual health-insurance policies, says the main reason for the increase is its customers are using health care more often, and they're receiving expensive new tests and treatments (Leys, 10/17).

The Texas Tribune: UT School Of Medicine In San Antonio Put On Probation
The accreditation of one of the state's medical schools is in jeopardy, according to a memo from Francisco González-Scarano, dean of the University of Texas School of Medicine in San Antonio, sent to faculty and staff today. ... It remains accredited, but to regain full accreditation, the school must submit and execute a remedial plan to address certain issues (Hamilton, 10/17). 

HealthyCal: Hmong Community Lacks Education Help To Combat Hepatitis B Infection
[M]any Hmongs, a "hill people" unassimilated in greater Southeast Asia and in the Asian American community, retain their Old World notions of health and healing. That means a reliance more on herbal remedies and shamanism than embracing basic Western medical care. ... The lack of health awareness in the immigrant community coincides with a higher than normal incidence of hepatitis B, a disease that can lead to liver cirrhosis and cancer (Brown, 10/18).

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