State Roundup: Windfall For Mass. Hospitals

News outlets report on a variety of state health policy issues.

The Associated Press: Health Law Windfall For Massachusetts Hospitals
Hospitals in Massachusetts will reap an annual windfall of $275 million due to a loophole enshrined in the new health care law. Hospitals in most other states will get less money as a result. The disclosure was buried in a regulation that Medicare issued late last week. Hospital association executives in other states are up in arms over the news, which comes at a time when they are girding for more cuts under the newly signed federal debt deal (Alonso-Zaldivar, 8/4).

The Boston Globe: More Latinos Insured In State
Hispanics in Massachusetts are much more likely to have insurance coverage and a primary care doctor than they were before the state's health insurance overhaul five years ago, but a report set to be released today found that those who speak little or no English lag far behind, with one-third uninsured. The researchers concluded that English-speaking Hispanics were almost as likely to be insured as non-Hispanic whites, after adjusting the data for differences in factors such as age and income. But the coverage rate for those who primarily speak Spanish was about 11 percentage points lower (Conaboy, 8/4). 

Minnesota Public Radio: To Afford Food, Seniors Stretch Dollars And Rely On Others
[M]any live on fixed incomes and already face health problems. Ensuring they have proper nutrition will be increasingly important in Minnesota, where about 700,000 people will reach retirement age in the next decade. Research shows that seniors who struggle with food are significantly more likely to be in fair or poor health (Siple, 8/3). 

Bloomberg: Koch Joins Wellpoint To Help Fight Wisconsin Recalls In Battle With Labor
Republican and Democratic groups are pouring money into Wisconsin with eight legislative recalls scheduled this month and control of the state Senate hanging in the balance. The Republican State Leadership Committee, based in Alexandria, Virginia, has spent about $370,000 on the special elections, while the Washington-based Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee has spent about $250,000, according to documents filed with the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board in Madison. Wellpoint Inc., an Indianapolis-based health insurer that has been critical of the new federal health-care law, is among the top donors to Republican organizations active in the contests, including $450,000 to the RSLC and $250,000 to the Republican Governors Association. Wellpoint gave $842,000 to the RSLC for the 2010 elections. State officials are playing a key role in implementing -- or fighting -- the new health law (Salant, 8/4).

The Boston Globe/State House News Service: Drive Begins To Put Assisted Suicide Law On Ballot Next Year
Voters may be asked to determine the fate of a proposal permitting dying patients to take life-ending drugs, a wrenching issue that backers say is a matter of dignity for the terminally ill but that opponents have warned is fraught with the potential for error. Backers of assisted suicide for certain terminally ill patients filed paperwork yesterday with Attorney General Martha Coakley to begin the process of bringing their plan, dubbed the Death With Dignity Act, to the 2012 ballot (Cheney, 8/4).

The Boston Globe: Beverly Council Gives Mayor Power To Negotiate Health Plans
Less than a month after Governor Deval Patrick signed the new municipal health care reform law, the Beverly City Council unanimously voted last night to give Mayor Bill Scanlon the power to negotiate a better health plan for current and retired city workers. Beverly is just the 20th municipality to exercise that ability under the Health Insurance Reform Act, which Patrick signed on July 12 in an effort to curb health insurance costs (Rice, 8/3).

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