News outlets examine a variety of state health policy issues.
Los Angeles Times: Prison Doctor Gets Paid For Doing Little Or Nothing
The highest-paid state employee in California last year, a prison surgeon who took home $777,423, has a history of mental illness, was fired once for alleged incompetence and has not been allowed to treat an inmate for six years because medical supervisors don't trust his clinical skills. Since July 2005, Dr. Jeffrey Rohlfing has mostly been locked out of his job — on paid leave or fired or fighting his termination — at High Desert State Prison in Susanville, state records show (Dolan, 7/13).
Concord Monitor: Federal Grant Hinges On Family Planning Access
State health officials must show by early next month how they can restore family planning services previously covered by Planned Parenthood or risk losing federal money, the state health commissioner said yesterday. The Executive Council last month declined to renew a two-year contract with Planned Parenthood of Northern New England to serve 16,000 state residents. The bulk of funding for the state family planning grants comes from the federal government, which requires recipient states to provide statewide access to care (Langley, 7/12).
The Oklahoman: Oklahoma Faces Challenges In Supplying Enough Primary Care Doctors To Meet Health Care Reform
Oklahoma will face more challenges than any other state when more residents become eligible for Medicaid under the new health care law, a recent study shows. A shortage of primary care doctors is one big reason for the state's anticipated difficulty in handling the surge in new patients, according to The New England Journal of Medicine. Oklahoma is one of eight states — with Georgia, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Nevada, North Carolina and Kentucky — that face the greatest challenges that begin in 2014, the study says (Colberg, 7/13).
Georgia Health News: State Exchange Panel Considering Options
A Georgia committee Tuesday discussed the pros and cons of building a health exchange, a day after new rules from the federal government loosened the deadlines that states face on creating these online insurance marketplaces. ... "We're diving into the details [of the new rules] as we speak," said Blake Fulenwider, health policy adviser for Gov. Nathan Deal, in an interview Tuesday. He said states face many unknowns in building exchanges (Miller, 7/12).
KQED: Napa County Begins Oversight Of Caregivers
Napa is now the first county in California to require permits and background checks for people paid to provide in-home care for the elderly and disabled. Law enforcement officials say regulation of the industry is long overdue, and hope the state will follow suit to check a growing amount of elder abuse. But some feel the background checks are intrusive, particularly for those caring for relatives (Liu, 7/12).
California Healthline: Lofty Expansion Plan for Children's Health Initiative
The successful not-for-profit Children's Health Initiative (CHI) has changed its name and has now become California Coverage & Health Initiatives. The shift is an ambitious one. "Originally the CHIs were local efforts to reach universal coverage for kids in a county or group of counties," CCHI executive director Suzie Shupe said. ... Now CCHI wants to expand that work to all counties, and to include adults (Gorn, 7/12).
The Philadelphia Inquirer: Pa. Reprieve Over Free Rides For Mental-Health Patients
After a groundswell of opposition, the state has retreated on a plan to stop giving mentally ill patients free transportation to psychiatric rehab centers. ... The uproar began last month ... According to the letter from Sherry H. Snyder, acting deputy secretary of the Office of Mental Health, the decision stemmed from two factors: an 11 percent cut in the state budget for the Medical Assistance Transportation Program, and a recognition that Medicaid funds were not supposed to be used to cover such costs. Many counties aren't in a position to pick up the tab (Martin, 7/13).
Houston Chronicle: Docs May Be Able To Get Their Degrees Much Faster
Aspiring doctors will be able to shave at least a year off their education under a new University of Texas initiative to reform the curriculum, increase the physician pipeline and cut costs. The pilot program, currently being developed, will allow students in Houston, Galveston and throughout the UT System to start college in fall 2013 and graduate medical school in spring 2020, one year faster than normal (Ackerman, 7/12).
WBUR: Partners Unveils Plan To Provide Better Health Care, Lower Costs
[Alan Reiss] is here because his diabetes pills weren't working. [Dr. Alan] Cole persuaded him to try the old fashioned but proven treatment, insulin shots. ... Reiss didn't save any money by switching to insulin, but Partners HealthCare estimates all its patients with diabetes could save $3 million to $10 million a year by moving from expensive brand name pills to generics when effective, or from pills to insulin. Partners said this care redesign package will make care more affordable in the long run by keeping patients healthier (Bebinger, 7/13).
The Connecticut Mirror: Malloy Promises Millions As CIGNA Makes Bloomfield Its HQ
Amid a backdrop of dreary economic news, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy today announced a "performance-based" economic-development package worth between $47 million and $71 million to grow and retain jobs at CIGNA Corp. as the health insurer declared Connecticut its corporate home. ... CIGNA is the product of a merger three decades ago of Connecticut General Insurance and INA of Philadelphia. It has been based in Philadelphia since 1982 (Pazniokas, 7/12).