State News: Florida Effort Could Cost Consumers $60 Million In Rebates

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

The Miami Herald: Health Plan A Huge Problem For Jackson Health System
The JMH Health Plan, the insurance wing of the Jackson Health System, has become a huge money-loser that must be fixed quickly, board members were told Thursday. So far this year, the plan has lost $30.4 million — almost half of the $71.7 million that Jackson Health System has lost for the entire fiscal year (Dorschner, 7/21). 

Health News Florida: State Fights $60M In Public Rebates
Floridians could miss out on an estimated $60 million in health-insurance rebates next year if state officials successfully block enforcement of spending rules in the year-old reform law. About 340,000 Floridians would likely qualify for the rebates, if they go through, based on data from last year. But Florida's Office of Insurance Regulation has sought a waiver of the rebates for companies operating in this state (Gentry, 7/21). 

WBUR's CommonHealth blog: Watching Maine, The Other Big New England Health Insurance Reform Experiment
The momentous move toward a single-payer system in Vermont gets most of the attention, but let us not forget another major experiment in health insurance reform now under way in New England: Maine's move in the opposite direction, toward a looser health insurance market (Goldberg, 7/21). 

California Healthline: Incentive Plan Working for Public Hospitals
A big component of the federal Medicaid waiver California officials negotiated last year was the provision to set up an incentive program to redesign systems and improve quality in public hospitals. It's going well, apparently (Gorn, 7/21). 

Modern Healthcare: Ky. Attorney General Scrutinizing Merger
Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway has serious questions about the proposed $620 million merger that would combine University of Louisville Hospital with two subsidiaries of Catholic Health Initiatives, which may lead him to contest the transaction, a spokesman said. Two Kentucky-based subsidiaries of CHI—Jewish Hospital & St. Mary's Healthcare, Louisville; and St. Joseph Health System, Lexington—have proposed merging with the 329-bed University Hospital in Louisville. Under the proposal, CHI would contribute $320 million in working capital to the partnership, plus invest $200 million for facilities improvements and $100 million in other services statewide, according to terms of the deal first reported in June (Carlson, 7/21).

The Connecticut Mirror: New Stem Cell Research Covers Bad Knees To Schizophrenia
[Twenty] stem cell research projects [were] awarded state funding this week. Overall, the Stem Cell Research Advisory Committee awarded $9.8 million in grants, the latest round of funding in the state's 10-year, $100 million commitment to the work. This week's grant awards mark the fifth round of funding; since 2006, the committee has awarded more than $60 million. The money comes from the state's tobacco settlement fund (Levin Becker, 7/21). 

The Texas Tribune: Kitzman Is Perry's New Insurance Commissioner
Eleanor Kitzman will be the state's new insurance commissioner, starting next month. Gov. Rick Perry announced the appointment Wednesday. Kitzman is from Texas, but she's the outgoing executive director of the South Carolina Budget and Control Board under Gov. Nikki Haley (Ramsey, 7/20). 

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: County Panel Endorses Insurance For Domestic Partners
A measure to extend health insurance benefits to same-sex or opposite-sex domestic partners of Milwaukee County employees cleared its first hurdle Thursday, with the board's Finance and Audit Committee endorsing it on a 4-1 vote. Backers of the move said the benefit was a matter of justice and fairness, with some comparing it to civil rights struggles. It also should help the county in employee recruitment, said Supervisor Eyon Biddle Sr. (Schultze, 7/21). 

The Baltimore Sun: Md. Paid Mental Health Claims To Patients Listed As Dead
The agency that manages the state's mental health system paid claims to dead people and didn't adequately verify that other patients qualified for state assistance, according to a legislative audit released Wednesday. The audit said the Mental Hygiene Administration would take back $5,500 it had paid to two patients who were listed as dead during the time of their claims, and would refer the cases to the state Medicaid fraud office (Walker, 7/21). 

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