Cash-Strapped Local Governments Threaten To Hold Back Payments To N.Y.; Oakland Council Approves 4 Marijuana Factories

The Wall Street Journal: "Frustrated by Albany's backlog of unpaid bills, cash-strapped local governments around New York are threatening to suspend their Medicaid payments to the state. Last week, an upstate county announced that it was freezing Medicaid payments to Albany. The move, which was closely watched by other county leaders, may be the start of a broader revolt, as the consequences of the state's chronic cash shortage trickle down to the local level. On Tuesday, county officials across the state are planning to hold a meeting to discuss whether to stage a more widespread protest that could potentially deprive Albany of millions of dollars in Medicaid reimbursement from other county governments owed money by the state. While tensions between Albany and local governments are a regular occurrence, budgetary pressures have rarely led to such extreme measures" (Gershman, 7/26).

The Associated Press/Boston Globe: "The state of Connecticut will begin accepting applications next month for a new federally funded health insurance program that will cover people with pre-existing medical conditions. The Department of Social Services is scheduled to begin taking applications for the temporary high-risk pool beginning Aug. 1. Coverage will begin as early as Sept. 1. The new program aims to cover people with pre-existing conditions over the next three-and-a-half years, until the new federal health care reform law takes effect" (7/24).

Minneapolis Star Tribune: "For the sixth time in nine years, Minnesota was the second-healthiest state for children when evaluating rates of deaths, teen pregnancies, high school dropouts and child poverty, a new national ranking indicates. Still, the Annie E. Casey Foundation's annual Kids Count report, released Monday, was hardly celebrated by child advocates in the state, who fear Minnesota's poverty rate -- higher than a decade ago -- could undermine its success. … The state showed improvements since 2000 in its rates of infant mortality, child deaths, teen deaths, teen pregnancies and school dropouts" (Olson, 7/25).

The Herald Scotland: "The city of Oakland, in California, is bidding to become the Silicon Valley of marijuana cultivation, following a council vote to approve four huge cannabis factories, taxed and regulated by the authorities. The contentious measure passed 5-2, despite the protests of small-scale growers, who argue that industrialisation will drive family farms operating at the margins of the law out of business. Oakland, the impoverished sister city of San Francisco, has long been at the forefront of the legalisation movement. It already taxes the sale, at dispensaries, of marijuana for medical purposes with an annual turnover of $28million. With a state-wide referendum on legalising possession for recreational use due in November, Oakland is positioning itself to take full advantage of the increased tax revenues from this growth industry" (Purcell, 7/25).

The Associated Press/Philadelphia Inquirer: "Gov. Christie has vetoed bills to fund family-planning clinics, health insurance for low-income adults, and a tax-incentive program for homebuyers, saying it would be irresponsible to approve additional expenses the state cannot afford. … The bills were sent to the Republican governor after he signed a $29.4 billion budget, which the Legislature passed. Democrats vowed to push for overrides. Christie said the additional spending was not part of the bipartisan budget agreement that slashed aid to schools and municipalities, and suspended property-tax rebates" (Delli Santi, 7/24).

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. The full summary of the day's news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.