State Roundup: Maine, Minn. GOP Want Insurance Changes

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

The Hill: Maine Gov. Touts Market-Based Health Care Solutions For Rural America
Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) told an enthusiastic crowd at the Heritage Foundation on Monday that his Republican administration thinks "taking off the shackles" from insurers is the way to keep healthcare costs low for rural residents. LePage is among the state leaders who have vowed to repeal Democrats' healthcare reform law and replace it with market-based solutions, such as allowing people to buy cheap insurance that's not as comprehensive as called for in the law. Maine has recently sought to pare down its Medicaid program, forced out its Democratic-appointed insurance commissioner and allowed residents to buy insurance from other New England states (Pecquet, 7/18).

KHN's Capsules: Maine Governor, Nuns And Maternity Coverage
Maine Gov. Paul LePage, who this month signed into law legislation that will phase out a state program subsidizing health care coverage for more than 8,000 residents, says government-run health programs won’t lower costs or help the uninsured (Galewitz, 7/19).

Minnesota Public Radio: GOP Leaders Ready Four Budget Bills
Minnesota's state government shutdown has now reached 19 days, but Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican legislative leaders are still not ready for a special session that would end the budget impasse. ... [Senate Health and Human Services Committee Chairman David] Hann, R-Eden Prairie, said the $11 billion health and human services bill will increase spending over current levels by about $1 billion. He said the reform provisions include a program that will allow some MinnesotaCare recipients to buy insurance in the private market. The bill also makes significant reductions in future spending (Pugmire, 7/19). 

Kansas Health Institute News: For Those In Need, Home Services A Path To Freedom
Every day, someone goes to Carolyn Zapata's house to help her get out of bed, bathe, dress and prepare to take on the day. ... Zapata is one of more than 6,500 physically disabled Kansans who receive Medicaid-funded, in-home services through the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services. ... In Kansas, people with disabilities account for about 22 percent of the Medicaid program's beneficiaries but more than half of the program's costs (Ranney, 7/18). 

The Connecticut Mirror: For People In Wheelchairs, Calling A Cab Is Not An Easy Option
[Charles] Smyth is one of many wheelchair users awaiting a decision from the state Department of Transportation on requests by two cab companies hoping to get 140 wheelchair-accessible taxis. There's only a handful in the state now, and people who use wheelchairs say their transportation options are limited. Paratransit services, like the one Smyth uses, give rides in areas served by bus lines, but typically only go within ¾ mile of a bus route (Levin Becker, 7/19). 

California Healthline: Non-Contracted Services At Heart Of Two Court Cases
A woman named Fucino, who is eligible for the County Medically Indigent Services Program (CMISP) and gets her care in Sacramento County, one day traveled to Monterey County to visit family. While in Monterey, she had a health issue that landed her in the emergency department in that county. Does Sacramento County have to pay for that out-of-county ED visit? ... So far, the courts have been saying yes, the county needs to pay (Gorn, 7/18). 

Idaho Statesman: Feds Say Idaho Can't Review Its Own Health Insurance Rates
The federal government says Idaho cannot do what the health-reform law requires to monitor health insurance companies' rate increases effectively. So the federal government will take over those reviews starting later this summer. The 2010 federal health-care reform law established new rules for health insurance premiums. It gave states a watchdog role against unreasonable increases. Starting Sept. 1, any individual or small-group insurance rate increase of 10 percent or more will have to be scrutinized by independent experts, such as actuaries hired by government regulators (Dutton, 7/18).

Arizona Republic: Maricopa County Expected To Save Money On Inmate Medical Care
Maricopa County will soon begin paying an adjusted rate for inmates' health care that is expected to save the county money. The new rate applies to arrestees treated at local hospitals with which the county does not have existing payment contracts. House Bill 2478, which goes into effect Wednesday, allows the largest Arizona counties to pay the same medical rates for inmates as the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System [Az. Medicaid] pays. This change applies to claims for medical or surgical care of county-jail inmates, juveniles in detention or people being treated for tuberculosis (Lee, 7/19).

Times-Picayune: State Is Charged With Mismanaging $50 Million Post-Katrina Health Care Grant
For the second time, a federal audit has charged the Louisiana state health agency with mismanaging a $50 million post-Hurricane Katrina grant intended to restore health care access to the New Orleans region. ... Problems included nurses not being employed at eligible facilities, contracts issued for less than the required three years of commitment to remain in the region and a failure by recipients to submit follow-up documentation proving their continued work and compliance (Barrow, 7/18). 

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