Texas Leaders Cut Spending For Medicaid, Wyo. Begins To Set Up State Exchange

Dallas Morning News: "State leaders, trying to dig out of a hole in the current two-year budget before the next one has to be whacked, ordered agencies Tuesday to further curb spending. Agency chiefs were told in a letter that they must reduce expenditures by 2.5% in the remaining nine months of the fiscal year. Managers of the state Medicaid program immediately announced they would cut another 1% from the fees paid to doctors, dentists and hospitals, along with 2% in payments to nursing homes and home health care providers. The decreases take effect Feb. 1, and they come on top of 1% cuts that kicked in just before Labor Day" (Garrett, 12/8).

Kennebec (Maine) Journal: "Gov.-elect Paul LePage's recent statement about a process for overturning health care reform prompted a clarification Monday, after it became the target of criticism. LePage was quoted Sunday by MaineToday Media saying he believes Maine should join a multistate lawsuit challenging the 2010 health care reform law — and that he just learned that, if 35 states joined the suit, the law 'dies, automatically.' But no such provision exists in statute or the U.S. Constitution. LePage spokesman Dan Demeritt issued a written statement Monday saying the governor-elect believes that, if enough states oppose the measure, it would have the effect of killing it politically" (Bell, 12/8).

Kansas City Star: "Missouri's public universities will see a $3 million infusion of cash to expand their nursing programs. During a visit Tuesday to the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Nursing, Gov. Jay Nixon announced that the state Board of Nursing has voted to award $1 million in each of the next three years to hire faculty to support more enrollment" (Williams, 12/7).

Casper Star-Tribune: "Wyoming took a first step on Monday on a plan to provide health insurance to the 86,000 people in the state who have none. A 17-member task force started work on the job of recommending a plan for a health insurance exchange, essentially a market for employers and individuals to choose insurance plans. The insurance exchanges have been described as a bridge between the current system and the kind of system most people want. They are supposed to lower costs and increase competition" (Barron, 12/7).

Kansas Reporter examines how the [state] Joint Committee on Children's Issues met to examine "how early intervention and services help autistic children improve so they eventually need either no additional assistance, or a very minimal level." It notes that "paying for those early intervention services is costly and often leaves a family in financial ruin if the therapies, which cost in excess of $45,000, are not covered by insurance. Because of that, lawmakers are considering ways to require insurance companies to cover autism therapy" (Whitten, 12/7).

The Associated Press/The Seattle Times: "Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler has rejected the most recent health insurance rate increases requested by Regence BlueShield and its subsidiary companies. The rate increases were sought to individual health plans offered by Regence BlueShield, Regence BlueShield of Oregon and Asuris Northwest Health and would have taken effect Jan. 1. Regence BlueShield and Asuris sought a 3.7% increase and Regence BlueShield of Oregon requested 4.9%" (12/7).

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