Wisconsin Residents May Switch Health Insurance Due To Reform; Florida Lawmakers Seek Changes To Medicaid

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "Some 60,000 Wisconsin residents could be shifted in the coming years from the state's BadgerCare Plus health coverage for the poor to commercial plans, under the federal health reform law. That's just one option that Wisconsin officials will have as they work through the effects of the sweeping federal law on the state's own extensive Medicaid health programs. By 2014, Wisconsin officials say, they will likely switch some BadgerCare recipients with higher incomes to one of two programs that have yet to be created -- a state plan that would be similar to BadgerCare or a system offering private plans and subsidies to make them affordable. ... The federal law has big, long-term effects for both Wisconsin taxpayers and many of the 766,000 people who rely on BadgerCare Plus to cover doctor's visits and other medical care" (Stein, 4/5).

The Palm Beach Post: "The House will unveil a wide-ranging, multi-year effort Tuesday to revamp Florida's costly Medicaid program — a plan that surpasses the Senate's already ambitious approach to expand managed-care coverage for low-income Floridians, according to those familiar with the proposal. The House plan is emerging publicly for the first time past the session's midpoint ... (and) the Medicaid plan is likely to prove a pivotal factor in the Legislature's end-game." Sen. Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island "is the incoming Senate president who is central to that chamber's push for adding 250,000 Medicaid patients to managed care plans in 19 counties, building on a five-county pilot program approved by lawmakers in 2005. ... Like the Senate, the House proposal includes HMOs. But politically, the House plan also looks to defuse opposition by including provider-service-networks led by hospitals and doctor groups in the Medicaid overhaul" (Kennedy, 4/5). 

NPR: "California, like many states, is suffering a shortage of nurses. How short? 10,000 vacancies and counting. But the problem is not a shortage of people who want to be nurses. Most are trained in the state's community colleges. ... These nursing programs are forced to turn away thousands of qualified students every year. ... California has 75 community college nursing programs and every one of them is full. Many have a three or four-year waiting list. Others, including Contra Costa, rely on a lottery system which requires applicants to reapply every year" (Korry, 4/5).

Fort Worth Star-Telegram: "In bold, clean strokes, North Texas physicians inked their names to a statewide petition drive Monday urging Congress to permanently fix the gap in Medicare funding that they say could cripple the system. The petition by the Texas Medical Association, launched Monday in seven locations across Texas including Fort Worth, warns congressional leaders that some physicians could be forced to stop accepting Medicare patients if a permanent fix cannot be worked out. ... Medical societies in 10 other states have agreed to join the Texas initiative, and another 30 state groups have expressed interest, officials said" (Hunt, 4/5).

The Associated Press/(South Mississippi) Sun Herald: "Mississippi's Medicaid program still hasn't received federal permission to cut payments to doctors, dentists and other providers for the final three months of the budget year, the program's spokesman said Monday. The chairman of the state Senate Public Health Committee, meanwhile, said the planned cuts for April, May and June are counterproductive. ... Medicaid notified providers nearly two weeks ago that it intended to cut their payments for three months because of a shortfall in the state budget. Spokesman Francis Rullan said getting federal permission to make the temporary change could take up to 90 days, and there's no way to know when Mississippi will find out if the change is approved or denied" (Wagster Pettus, 4/5).

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "The federal Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program on Monday awarded $65.6 million to Georgia, providing a major source of funding for people living with the disease who are in need or have no health insurance. The announcement of Ryan White money always has been a big moment among groups that provide health services to people with HIV or AIDS, but this year some feared the declining economy would reduce funding at a time when more people have lost jobs and health coverage. Instead, Georgia will receive about $2 million in additional funds" (Schneider, 4/5).

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