Idaho Halts Medicaid Cuts For Dental Care; Georgia And Justice Department Reach Accord On Mental Health Services

Boise Weekly: "Gov. C.L. 'Butch' Otter removed a political abscess Tuesday, restoring all previously contracted dental care providers to the state's Medicaid-funded Idaho Smiles program." About 150 dentists had been cut from the program as the state sought to trim its Medicaid costs. Otter's decision means "that no state Medicaid recipients will be denied access to dental care" (Prentice, 10/19).

CNN: "An estimated 10,000 Georgia residents suffering from mental illness or developmental disabilities may no longer be segregated in state hospitals that set them apart from the community, the Justice Department announced Tuesday. The settlement between Georgia and Justice Department lawyers who enforce the Americans with Disabilities Act was announced by Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez in Washington. The pact signed Tuesday ends a long-running lawsuit triggered by a Supreme Court decision more than a decade ago" (Frieden, 10/19).

Health News Florida: "Incoming House Speaker Dean Cannon today clamped down on state agencies carrying out the federal health-reform law, arguing that lawmakers need to be more involved in making decisions. Cannon, in a letter to Gov. Charlie Crist, requested that all state agencies provide details by Nov. 15 of their activities in implementing the law." He also demanded "notification and consultation with the Legislature" before any more activities begin (Saunders, 10/19).

The Hartford Courant: "The state budget, binding arbitration and Tom Foley's health care plan dominated the third televised debate Tuesday in the bitter battle for governor between Foley and Democrat Dannel Malloy. ... Malloy and Foley have been clashing in negative television commercials in multimillion-dollar campaigns. In Tuesday's contest at Fairfield University, the candidates differed sharply over Foley's health plan and how it would impact patients. On his campaign website, Foley says he would allow small companies that have not previously provided insurance 'to elect coverage under a core-needs plan set by the insurance commissioner which is focused on basic care needs and is exempt from state mandates'" (Keating, 10/19).

The Tennessean: "Private Medicare Advantage and prescription drug plan options are fewer for 2011, and some Nashville-area seniors may face higher out-of-pocket expenses for the private insurance. On average, private insurance premiums should fall slightly for Medicare Advantage plans that cover doctors' visits, hospitalizations and other basic medical costs, but rise from 5 percent to 10 percent for separate Medicare Part D or prescription drug packages, according to two independent health consultants. Another factor is that seniors here and nationally will have fewer insurance options from which to choose when the fall enrollment period starts Nov. 15. Seniors will have until Dec. 31 to choose plans" (Ward, 10/20). 

Congress Daily: "HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Tuesday put Connecticut insurance officials on notice for allegedly failing to use federal grants to scrutinize a proposed insurance rate increase, but the state's insurance department says they have not received the money to begin enhanced review efforts. HHS Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight Director Jay Angoff sent a letter Monday to Connecticut Insurance Commissioner Thomas Sullivan, protesting the approval of a nearly 47 percent rate increase for Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield policies" (10/19).

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