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Latest Morning Briefing Stories

Missouri Lawmaker Attributes Massive Medicaid Enrollment Cuts To Software That More Accurately Assesses Income

KHN Morning Briefing

Missouri Speaker of the House Elijah Haahr said the software found that a significant number of people weren’t eligible based on income. However, critics remain skeptical. “Most of those kids probably should be eligible for Medicaid unless their parents’ income doubled or tripled,” said Washington University Health Economics Professor Tim McBride. Medicaid news comes out of Louisiana, as well.

‘Financially Devastating’ Air Ambulance Rides Can Both Save Lives And Ruin Them

KHN Morning Briefing

Courts have ruled air ambulances can charge anything they want, and many patients are getting stuck with sky-high bills. Meanwhile, Texas lawmakers signed aggressive legislation into law that was meant to protect the state’s residents from surprise medical bills, but millions remain unprotected.

Planned Parenthood Rejects Family Planning Funds Rather Than Comply With What It Deems A Gag Rule

KHN Morning Briefing

A new Trump administration rule for Title X funding forbids referrals to doctors who can perform abortions. Planned Parenthood has called the change both a targeted attack on its organization and a gag rule that would hurt its patients. Currently, Planned Parenthood receives about $60 million annually through the federal program. “Our patients deserve to make their own health care decisions, not to be forced to have Donald Trump or Mike Pence make those decisions for them,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, Planned Parenthood’s acting president and CEO. Media outlets look at how the decision will effect local facilities, as well.

Most Training Programs For Workers Lacking Skills Show Little Success. This One Was Different.

KHN Morning Briefing

A program geared toward helping train workers to better position themselves for jobs has found success where others failed. One of the lessons learned, though, is that it takes a lot of investment to do so. In other industry and staffing news, a company that allows health care employers to post job openings for temporary doctors and travel nurses plans to expand.

Courtroom Standoffs: Hospitals On Brink Of Insolvency Trying To Squeeze Money From Patients Who Just Don’t Have It

KHN Morning Briefing

Emergency room visits can often lead to a court date when the patients can’t pay their bills. In a small Missouri town the practice has become so routine that some people here derisively refer to it as the “follow-up appointment.” In just this town, there can be dozens of cases each week. “I’m trying to make peace with the fact that this debt could sit on me forever,” said Gail Dudley, 31.

Sky-High Surprise Bills From Air Ambulance Rides Under Scrutiny In Georgia

KHN Morning Briefing

More insured patients are being hit by surprise medical bills, with air ambulance charges among the worst. The prices can be in the tens of thousands of dollars and more than half of rides in the U.S. on air ambulances are not in the passenger’s insurance network. Georgia legislators say they want to do something about that. The state is also looking to overhaul other aspects of its EMS services. And in Virginia, regulators will seek public input from residents about actions the state could take to limit surprise bills.

Alleging Anti-Competitive Actions, Pharmacies File Suit Against Supplier Of Radiology Medicines

KHN Morning Briefing

These pharmacies purchase radiology medicines that arrive in powder form and then add a solution before filling orders from hospital radiology departments. But the independent pharmacies grew angry in 2014 and claimed Jubilant DraxImage, a big supplier, raised prices on two nuclear medicines between 500 percent and nearly 1,800 percent. Also news on a new cancer-fighting drug and a non-compete dispute in Michigan.

With Title X Deadline Monday, Planned Parenthood, Administration Tensely Await News From Courts

KHN Morning Briefing

Planned Parenthood has asked a federal court to stop new regulations that bar groups getting federal reproductive health funding from referring patients seeking to end a pregnancy to an abortion provider. The government says midnight on Monday is the deadline for providers to prove they’re following the rule or be thrown out of the program.

‘Apparent Coordinated Obstruction:’ Lawmakers Renew Investigation Of Generic Drugmakers’ Pricing

KHN Morning Briefing

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) revive a 2014 probe into drug price-fixing allegations by generic drugmakers Mylan, Teva Pharmaceuticals and Heritage Pharmaceuticals. The lawmakers are asking for documents — that the company has previously failed to provide Congress — related to allegations that the three companies coordinated to set prices for a range of prescription drug treatments.

Abortion Foes And Supporters Warn Tenn. Lawmakers Against Bill That Would Ban The Procedure

KHN Morning Briefing

The proposed legislation would prohibit abortions anytime after a pregnancy is detected, and its supporters suggest this may be a good option to take before the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade. In other states, lawmakers are looking at problems in the Minnesota Department of Human Services and protections for the supplement kratom in Ohio.

Kansas Rejects Aetna’s Plan To Correct Problems With Its Private Medicaid Services

KHN Morning Briefing

Aetna’s $1 billion-a-year business with Kansas is in jeopardy after the state rejects the contractor’s plan to fix problems with its services to KanCare, the state’s privatized Medicaid program. A letter from Kansas regulators says Aetna does not “present a clear path to compliance” and gives the company another shot to submit a corrective proposal. And other Medicaid news comes out of Louisiana and New Hampshire.

D.C. Appeals Court Upholds Government’s Plan To Change Payments To Safety Net Hospitals

KHN Morning Briefing

But the court decision is far from final. Lawsuits by hospitals in several jurisdictions are challenging the rule and appeals are also pending before other federal courts. Elsewhere, a Tennessee judge granted class action status to a lawsuit against Community Health Systems and other hospital news from California, Kentucky and Maryland.

Number Of Employers That Only Offer High-Deductible Plans Projected To Drop Again Next Year

KHN Morning Briefing

An annual survey of employer health care strategies finds that large, self-insured businesses continue to shift away from offering high-deductible health plans as the only employee insurance option. In other health coverage news: States increasingly expect to see insurers enter or re-enter marketplaces next year, in a sign that these exchanges are growing less risky for companies.