News Round Up: Colo. To Delay Medicaid Pay To Doctors; La. Legislature Passes Law Requiring Ultrasounds Before An Abortion

The Denver Post: "Colorado has declared a fiscal emergency and delayed payments to doctors and clinics taking care of the state's neediest patients. Under state law, the Medicaid department can delay reimbursements to doctors, hospitals and clinics during a fiscal emergency. Physicians treating patients with the health-insurance plan for the poor will not receive normally scheduled payments on June 25 or July 2, a hardship for safety-net clinics in particular that rely on public funds. State officials said they would begin catching up on payments July 9 after a new fiscal year begins" (Brown, 6/17). 

The Associated Press/NPR: "Women seeking abortions in Louisiana will be required to get an ultrasound first, even if they are a victim of rape or incest, under a bill that received final legislative passage Wednesday. The bill by Democratic state Sen. Sharon Broome of Baton Rouge was sent to the governor's desk with a 79-0 vote of the state House. Gov. Bobby Jindal supports the measure. Supporters of the proposal said they hope the ultrasound dissuades some women from getting an abortion at the handful of abortion clinics in Louisiana, by giving them more information about their pregnancies" (6/16).

NewOrleans.com/WGNO ABC26 News reports on the same requirement for women seeking abortions: "Opponents say requiring a procedure that may not be available at a free clinic will make it more difficult and costly for women" (6/16).

The Sacramento Bee: "On Wednesday, the California Public Employees' Retirement System approved an average increase of more than 9 percent in health premiums next year for its state and local government members. Private industry is expected to face similar increases next year following years of rate hikes. For some people, including those buying insurance on their own, increases could jump well into the double digits. … CalPERS blamed its rate hike on rising costs for hospital care, doctor visits and prescriptions. … The increase translates to higher premiums for public agencies and their 1.3 million employees, retirees and family members. The cost for covering them will rise on average by 9.1 percent – but by as much as 16 percent depending on the health plans" (Calvan, 6/17).

The Associated Press/Boston Globe: "Municipal officials in New Hampshire are being cautioned not to budget for refunds they could receive from three public employee health insurance pools just because state officials have stepped up oversight of the funds. State Senate Majority Leader Maggie Hassan, an Exeter Democrat and sponsor of the oversight legislation, said Wednesday that participating cities and towns might see refunds next year if audits show the Local Government Center and two other insurance risk pools have amassed larger-than-needed reserve funds. … Deputy Secretary of State David Scanlan said LGC has forced the state to go to court on several occasions in the past year to compel the production of records" (Tuohy, 6/16).

San Francisco Chronicle: "State health regulators will hire outside analysts to review rate increases proposed by the California's four largest health insurers, the state Department of Insurance announced Wednesday. Reviews will be conducted on rate filings recently submitted by Blue Shield of California and Aetna, as well as future filings by Anthem Blue Cross and Health Net. Together the four insurers cover 90 percent the California consumers who buy their policies on their own, rather than through a group. The insurance department decided to take the action after an independent audit of Anthem revealed the insurer, which had proposed boosting rates as high as 39 percent, had made numerous accounting errors in calculating those new rates. Anthem has since canceled the rate hikes, which would have affected as many as 800,000 policyholders, and has yet to submit any new rate filings" (Colliver, 6/17).

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