Wis. Pushes To Expand Medicaid Funding For Contraceptives, Minnesota Encourages 'Medical Homes,' Md. Settles Nursing Home Payment Case

The Wall Street Journal: "Wisconsin is pushing to expand a controversial program that uses federal Medicaid funds to provide free birth-control pills, vasectomies and other forms of contraception to low-income people, an effort made possible by the federal health-care overhaul. It and 26 other states already provide free contraception and other reproductive-health services through a Medicaid pilot project to lower-earning women who otherwise wouldn't qualify." Among the benefits included are "access to prescription birth control, Pap smears, testing for sexually transmitted diseases and, in some states, infertility treatments. Women qualify for Wisconsin's program if they make up to $21,600 a year for single people—twice the federal poverty level." Wisconsin has applied to federal officials to expand the program by raising "the qualifying limit to $32,490" (Adamy, 8/18). 

Minneapolis Star-Tribune: "Minnesota has certified 11 medical clinics as health care homes to better coordinate care of people with chronic illnesses, the state Health Department said Tuesday. Sometimes called 'medical homes,' the clinics remain the sites where patients go to receive regular care. … So far, just 70 physicians and six physician assistants or nurse practitioners do the health care home work of the 11 clinics, representing a modest step in what health officials hope will be a widespread practice. It is part of the state health system overhaul approved by the Legislature in 2008 that includes a $47 million statewide campaign now under way to reduce smoking and obesity and a new system to rank the quality and costs of providers, to be unveiled next January" (Wolfe, 8/17). 
 
The Baltimore Sun: "Thousands of low-income nursing home patients in Maryland will have millions in old debts wiped out now that the state has settled a years-long case involving Medicaid payments. Much of the $16 million settlement will go directly to nursing homes that had not received payments from those patients. … The money was about a quarter of what the nursing homes said they were owed from 2002-2005," when a class-action lawsuit was filed in Baltimore Circuit Court. The settlement also changes "obscure state Medicaid rules that will aid future nursing home patients and could become a road map for other states," said one of the lawyers in the case (Cohn, 8/18).

The Associated Press/Bloomberg Businessweek: "A new panel of corporate and professional health care heavyweights, political figures and medical policy experts was tasked Monday with devising 'uniquely Virginia' ways to cut the cost of health care and improve its delivery. Chief among problems Gov. Bob McDonnell told the 24-member panel to address is Medicaid, the federal-state health services program for the needy, aged and disabled that will demand billions of dollars more each year from Virginia's budget" (Lewis, 8/17).

Texas Tribune: "In the wake of high-profile abuse in Texas' institutions for the disabled, state health officials want to boost payments to them — to the tune of $25,000 per patient per year. But the proposed Medicaid rate change has drawn the ire of Texas' disability community, which wants to see the facilities shuttered rather than propped up" (Ramshaw, 8/18).

The Connecticut Monitor: Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell last month named Christine Vogel "to oversee implementation of the sweeping Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which President Barack Obama signed into law last March. A 25-year health care veteran, Vogel started on July 23, and she already feels way behind. Not to mention short-staffed and under-funded. But that's actually an improvement from a few weeks ago, when Vogel was still deputy commissioner for Connecticut's Office of Health Care Access, helping to oversee implementation of the massive reform law on top of her day job" (Shesgreen, 8/18).

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