News outlets examine a variety of state health policy issues.
Los Angeles Times: State Aims To Mitigate Loss Of Funds For Adult Day Care
State health officials are circulating a plan they say will help keep about 35,000 elderly and disabled Californians out of institutionalized care when Medi-Cal stops offering an adult day healthcare benefit in December. The plan released late Friday relies primarily on Medi-Cal managed care plans to find alternatives for beneficiaries, including additional hours of in-home supportive services, physical and occupational therapy, and social services. But care providers say the approach could fail because appropriate alternatives aren't always available and families would be forced to shuttle patients around town to obtain the services now offered at more than 300 adult day healthcare centers (Zavis, 8/7).
The Texas Tribune: Day 6: Some Texans Will Lose Mental Health Funding
Throughout the month of August, The Texas Tribune will feature 31 ways Texans' lives will change come Sept. 1, the date most bills passed by the Legislature — including the dramatically reduced budget — take effect. ... Day 6: State lawmakers kept funding for mental health services mostly level, but some Texans will still lose aid they've come to rely on. Following the special session, Bluebonnet Trails, a mental health services provider based in Williamson County, learned it would lose more than a quarter of its funding (Philpott and Tan, 8/6).
Contra Costa Times: Where's East Contra Costa Health Care District's Money Going?
East Contra Costa's only taxpayer-supported health care district is proposing to spend less than half its budget this fiscal year on the community programs it was set up to support, just a year after a civil grand jury criticized it for not directing more money toward serving residents. The rest of the 2011-12 budget would go toward district expenses such as employee wages and board compensation, legal services and strategic planning (Radin, 8/7).
Providence Journal: Retiree Health: Shift To Medicare Could Save R.I. Cities Millions
Cities and towns that have been disappointed by recent sessions of the state legislature finally had something to cheer about this year — a state budget that contains several measures specifically designed to help communities save money. Chief among those measures is a one-paragraph provision that could save some cities and towns hundreds of thousands, and perhaps millions of dollars, by moving retirees who were promised lifetime health coverage onto Medicare when they turn 65. ... several cities and towns that have promised lifetime health care to at least some of their retirees are studying the possibility of moving those who are eligible onto Medicare (Edgar, 8/7).
Georgia Health News: Small Firms Continue To Face High Health Costs
Less than half of small businesses in Georgia offer health insurance to their workers. And the percentage is even lower in rural South Georgia, according to a newly released survey of small firms by the Georgia Health Policy Center and Georgia State University's J. Mack Robinson College of Business (Miller, 8/5).
California Healthline: How Should The Exchange Adjust Risk?
William Dow, a professor of health economics at UC-Berkeley, said the idea is relatively simple. "In theory, each individual patient comes with a dollar amount representing their gain or loss to the insurance company," Dow said ... According to Edwin Park of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the state's exchange has to make sure it applies the same rules inside and outside of the exchange, but that risk adjustment can be applied using the gold, silver and bronze levels of coverage (Gorn, 8/5).
Atlanta Journal Constitution: Charity-Care Hospital Regulations Scrutinized
Georgia's not-for-profit hospitals receive millions of dollars a year in federal, state and local tax breaks. Residents pay more in taxes because these hospitals are exempt. In exchange, taxpayer-subsidized hospitals are expected to provide charitable services -- a community benefit. But Georgia, like 35 other states, has no specific requirements hospitals must meet to justify these tax breaks. And an Atlanta Journal-Constitution analysis of hospital data reveals that some not-for-profit hospitals provide less in community benefits -- specifically, charity health care for the poor -- than the tax-paying, for-profit hospitals they compete with (Pell, 8/7).
Atlanta Journal Constitution: HIV Aid Pipeline Clogged By State
Alpha Goodshepherd is worried. HIV positive since 1998, he knows how important it is to take care of his health. Until recently, the 51-year-old Lawrenceville resident took a drug to keep the virus at bay. Now, all he has is an empty pill bottle and a notice -- that his insurance has been canceled. Goodshepherd applied to the Georgia Department of Public Health on May 16 to have his $510 monthly insurance premium paid through a program called the Health Insurance Continuation Program. Although his request was approved, the state didn't mail the check by the payment due date, and Goodshepherd's coverage was dropped. Metro area AIDS activists say it is not an isolated problem (Joyner, 8/7).
KQED/The California Report: Counties Brace for Influx of Inmates
Inmates wait in the cages to be assigned permanent housing or for medical, mental health or other appointments. Throughout California, counties are bracing for an influx of inmates and parolees now under state control. It's called realignment, and it's part of Governor Brown's plan to reduce prison overcrowding (Shafer, 6/5).
Related, earlier KHN story: Health Care Expands For Ex-Offenders In California (Schmitt, 3/28).
MinnPost/Med City News: Retail Health Care (Mayo Clinic Style) Comes To The Mall Of America
An unlikely Mayo Clinic location will pop up next week as the venerable institution continues down the path of engaging with consumers. On Aug.11, visitors to the Mall of America will be able to stroll through a 2,500-square-foot space that is designed to be a cross between a high-tech retail store like Apple or Microsoft and an interactive library of Mayo Clinic health information that focuses on health and wellness (Parmar, 8/5).
Minnesota Public Radio: State Budget Cuts Out Help For Immigrant Doctors To Regain Profession
A state-funded program that helps immigrant doctors qualify to practice in Minnesota has become a casualty of the state budget agreement. It shut down after lawmakers eliminated funding for the $150,000 program during last-minute negotiations last month (Benson, 8/8).
Louisville Courier Journal: Archbishop Joseph Kurtz Defends Catholic Healthcare Merger With University Hospital
Louisville Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz said Thursday he would only approve a merged hospital system under Roman Catholic ownership if all the participants, including University Hospital, agreed to follow the church's ethical rules for medical care (Smith, 8/4).