Minn. Negotiators Seek Compromise To Expand Medicaid While A Nursing Home Tax And Cuts To A Screening Program Grab Headlines In Other States

The (Minneapolis) Star Tribune: Members of a legislative conference committee in Minnesota "agreed Sunday that expanding Medicaid should be part of the eventual compromise they will take to the House and Senate as early as Monday in a package of health and human service measures to cut the state's budget deficit. Gov. Tim Pawlenty has strongly opposed expanding Medicaid to cover health care for childless adults earning less than 75 percent of the poverty guideline. ... That and other measures the governor opposes likely will result in a veto, "and we'll be back here Thursday working on this again," warned Rep. Jim Abeler, R-Anoka. By law, the session must end May 17" (Wolfe, 5/10).

Kansas Health Institute: "The Kansas Senate passed a nursing home provider tax bill late Friday. ... The bill uses a tax on licensed nursing home beds to generate about $30 million which, in turn, would be used to draw down $56 million in additional federal Medicaid funding. The $86 million would be returned to the nursing homes based on the number of Medicaid residents in their care. The more Medicaid residents a home has in its care, the more money it would receive. Senate Substitute for Substitute for House Bill 2320 passed the Senate on a voice vote. Support appeared to be unanimous" The House is expected to take the measure up Monday. (Ranney, 5/8).

The Associated Press/USA Today: California "budget cuts to a breast cancer screening program for low-income women have forced some mammogram providers to shutter clinics and idle mobile units, leaving many eligible women and those formerly eligible without a place to turn. The financially strapped California Department of Public Health temporarily banned new enrollments to the Every Women Counts program from January until July 1. But it also upped the age to qualify for the program from 40 to 50. The changes are intended to reduce the number of mammogram recipients to 259,000 this fiscal year from last year's 311,000" (5/9).

The Associated Press/Boston Globe: "Advocates for Connecticut's senior citizens are praising a change in the new state budget that reduces a surcharge for in-home personal care services. The 15 percent surcharge, adopted earlier this year for participants in the Home Care for Elders program, will be cut to 6 percent under the new $19 billion state budget. About 5,100 clients of the program were paying up to $400 monthly under the old surcharge" (5/8).

The Associated Press: Hundreds of owners of pot dispensaries "across Los Angeles have until June 7 to close their clinics or they may be confronted with civil fines and even jail time. City officials are attempting to harness an industry that exploded in recent years as scores of medical marijuana facilities cropped up and turned the City of Angels into the Wild Wild West of Weed. The city is now attempting to shutter those dispensaries that aren't in compliance with a new ordinance and ensure the roughly 130 that remain meet stringent guidelines" (Risling, 5/10).

The Des Moines Register: "A prominent Iowa mental-health advocacy group accepts money from manufacturers of psychiatric drugs, but not as much as its counterparts nationally or in some other states, documents collected by U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley show. The Iowa Republican has been asking questions for more than a year about the finances of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. The group, better known as NAMI, often pushes for more government spending on mental-health services, including expensive psychiatric medications. Grassley's inquiries led to the 2009 disclosure that more than two-thirds of the national group's financing came from drug companies. The four-year total from the companies to the organization was nearly $29 million. He then asked for similar records from state chapters of the group. Last week, Grassley disclosed that some state NAMI groups have received significant amounts of money from drug companies" (Leys, 5/10).

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