Mass. Reports On People Who Buy Insurance Only When Sick; Wash. Board Considers Aiding Consumers Get 'Plan B' Referrals; ACLU Sues R.I. Over Electronic Records

The Boston Globe: "The number of people who appear to be gaming the state's health insurance system by purchasing coverage only when they are sick quadrupled from 2006 to 2008, according to a long-awaited report released yesterday from the Massachusetts Division of Insurance. The result is that insured residents of Massachusetts wind up paying more for health care, according to the report. … The report was released as state lawmakers consider proposals to make it harder for consumers to jump in and then dump their health insurance coverage" (Lazar, 6/30). 

The Boston Herald: "The report found that as the number of individual subscribers grew from 45,900 in 2006 to 107,343 in 2008, the percentage of individuals terminating coverage within their first year also grew, from 13.8 percent in 2006 to 24.2 percent in 2008. But overall, the state consultants at Oliver Wyman said the trend only increased insurers' costs by less than 1.5 percent each year. Insurers don’t necessarily agree. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts executive Andrew Dreyfuss attributed the insurer's recent losses to the trend" (McConville, 6/30).

The Seattle Times: "The state's Board of Pharmacy wants pharmacies that can't fill a particular prescription to be required to actively help patients find a drugstore that does carry the medication. The issue is particularly important for time-sensitive medications, such as the so-called 'Plan B' emergency contraceptive that has been at the heart of controversy — and a lawsuit — over state rules affecting pharmacy owners and individual pharmacists. The board decided Tuesday to start the process to amend current rules. The wording of the proposed amendment has not yet been determined, and the rule-making process will include public comments" (Ostrom, 6/29).

Kansas Health Institute: "A new bed tax for nursing homes was signed into law Tuesday by Gov. Mark Parkinson. Most of the state's 346 nursing facilities are expected to benefit. The new law calls for using a tax on licensed nursing home beds to generate about $30 million which, in turn, will be used to draw down $56 million in additional federal Medicaid funding" that will go to nursing homes (6/29).

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "A regional AIDS training program for health care professionals at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, has received a $23 million, five-year federal grant for continued operation," an increase of $4 million over its last five-year federal grant. The center "provides HIV/AIDS-related training to health professionals in Delaware, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C." (6/30). 

The Associated Press/Boston Globe: "A civil liberties group is suing the Rhode Island Department of Health over the creation of a centralized database of patient health records. The lawsuit, filed Tuesday by the state affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union, says the health department has failed to create rules to protect a patient's privacy rights" (6/29).

USA Today: "A suburban New York assemblyman whose daughter is a two-time kidney transplant recipient wants to flip New York's organ-donation system on its head by presuming people are donors unless they indicate otherwise. Assemblyman Richard Brodsky's proposal would require that people automatically be added to the state donor registry unless they opt out of being a donor when they get a driver's license or state identification card. Other states, including Delaware and Pennsylvania, have made similar proposals, but none passed" (Matthews, 6/30).

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