Iowa Moves Forward On Health Exchange; Texas Medical School Highlights Geriatrics; Concerns Grow About Prisoners' Mental Health Needs

News outlets reported on a variety of state developments.

Politico: Double Bind On Health Care Reform
Republican lawmakers on the state level are largely against the new health reform law—but they aren’t against all of the behemoth legislation. Virginia dominated headlines this week when a federal judge ruled the individual mandate to buy insurance unconstitutional on Monday. Much less noticed: the very next day, a task force appointed by Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell recommended that the state implement a health insurance exchange earlier than federal guidelines require (Kliff, 12/16).

Des Moines Register: Panel OKs Health Insurance Exchange
Iowa should move ahead with a key piece of health care reform, despite challenges to the overall national program, a state panel recommended Wednesday. The state Health Care Coverage Commission voted 10-1 in favor of having Iowa continue forming a health insurance exchange (Leys, 12/16).

The Dallas Morning News: UT Southwestern Prescribing Geriatrics For All Its Students
The [University of Texas Southwestern Medical School's] Aging and Geriatrics Education program, funded in part by a $2 million grant by the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, folds geriatric topics into the medical curriculum and students' studies, regardless of their specialty (Repko, 12/15).

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Marshfield Clinic Affiliate Gets State Funds For Dental Program
An affiliate of Marshfield Clinic has secured a matching grant from the state by committing $10 million for a rural dental education program that would be the first step toward starting a second dental school in Wisconsin. ... The planned dental school would focus on training students who want to practice in rural areas (Boulton, 12/16). 

St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press: Senior-Care Providers Face More Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual And Transgender Clients, Report Indicates
A new report suggests that despite their willingness, many senior-care providers may not be ready to serve the growing number of openly gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender clients. ... The findings, drawn from completed surveys of 15 "Agencies on Aging" in Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin, mirror results of a related national study that found senior-care agencies to be open, generally, to training on how to respond to the needs of nonheterosexual seniors (Melo, 12/15).

The Texas Tribune : Sheriffs Worry Over Proposed Mental Health Cuts
Sheriffs across Texas are increasingly frustrated and worried about the ever-decreasing amount of bed space available at state mental hospitals. Too often, when mentally ill offenders come to their jails, sheriffs who are required to provide appropriate care for their inmates say they are forced to either drive hundreds of miles, wait for days in hospital emergency rooms guarding patients or try to make do in their local jails until a mental health bed becomes available. The looming budget shortfall that legislators will be grappling with in 2011 has sheriffs concerned that the problem will mutate into a crisis (Grissom, 12/16). 

Des Moines Register: Wellmark Customers Get Their Chance To Vent
Iowa's largest health insurer will wake up Saturday to a grim forecast: Ice-cold customers, with a chance of profanity showers. Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield will be the focus of a first-of-its-kind hearing, in which policyholders are expected to tee off on the company's planned rate increases. ... A company spokesman said Wellmark representatives do not plan to attend Saturday's hearing, although they understand that consumers are frustrated. He said the price increases are needed to keep up with fast-rising medical costs (Leys, 12/16). 

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