State Roundup: Mass. Health Spending's Rise; Huge Ky. Hospital Merger

News outlets offer a variety of stories about state health policy issues.

WBUR's (Boston) CommonHealth blog: Trending Up: Growth In State Health Spending Outpaces Nation
A new report from the state Division of Health Care Finance and Policy shows that: ... "Spending per member on privately insured people grew 6 percent from 2007 to 2008 and another 10 percent from 2008 to 2009. This rate of growth was substantially higher than the increase in national personal health care expenditures per capita of 4.6 percent from 2008 to 2009. Spending by private payers also grew faster than spending by public payers" (Zimmerman, 6/14). 

Modern Healthcare: Statewide System Planned In Kentucky
Three of Kentucky's largest healthcare providers have formally reached an agreement to form a single system. The new health system will comprise six-hospital Jewish Hospital & St. Mary's HealthCare, Louisville; seven-hospital St. Joseph Health System, Lexington; 329-bed University of Louisville Hospital; and the James Graham Brown Cancer Center, Louisville, according to a news release (McKinney, 6/14).

The Oregonian: Oregon Senate Votes To Expand Health Coverage For Low-Income Women With Breast, Cervical Cancer
Even with a lean state budget, the Oregon Senate unanimously agreed today to expand the number of low-income women eligible for breast cancer or cervical cancer treatment. Senate Bill 433 now moves to the House (Harr, 6/14).

California Healthline: Switching Programs A Complicated Task
The state wanted to save $169 million by cutting the adult day health care program. An idea was floated to take half of that money, $85 million, and create a new, slimmed-down version, called KAFI (Keeping Adults Free from Institutions). ... Most advocates assumed that if the $85 million was appropriated by the Legislature and approved by the governor, that would preempt the governor's $25 million in transition money. Not so fast, (Norman Williams, deputy director Dept. of Health Care) said (Gorn, 6/14).

New Orleans Times-Picayune: Senate Strips Changes In 'Conscience Protection' Law Out Of Abortion Bill
The Louisiana Senate voted 23-1 Tuesday for a bill that would add to the information that abortion providers must give women before they can terminate a pregnancy. But the upper chamber stripped a separate provision of the bill that would have changed Louisiana's "conscience protection" law that allows medical professionals to deny certain services because of their moral beliefs (Barrow, 6/14). 

The Arizona Republic: Arizona Court Of Appeals Hears Arguments In Abortion Case
A three-judge panel of the Arizona Court of Appeals heard arguments Tuesday about whether to overturn a lower-court ruling halting key parts of a 2009 abortion law from going into effect. The law banned anyone but doctors from performing surgical abortions, required the physician to meet with a patient in person 24 hours before the abortion, required a parent to provide notarized consent for a minor to have an abortion and allowed pharmacists and other medical professionals to refuse to perform abortions or provide contraception (Beard Rau, 6/14). 

The Washington Post: Allen Policy Blueprint Calls For Tax Cuts, Repeal Of Health-Care Plan
(Virginia Republican Senate candidate George) Allen's "Blueprint for America's Comeback" — a 12-page glossy brochure — mostly echoes mainstream Republican policy thinking. ... Specifically, it calls for ... repealing Obama’s health-care law and replacing it with “personal, affordable health-care opportunities,” including health savings accounts. ... the plan does not directly address whether he supports the controversial proposal by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to turn Medicare for people currently 55 or under into a system that provides federal subsidies for the purchase of private insurance plans (Pershing, 6/14).

Atlanta Journal Constitution: Grady Memorial Hospital To Cut Another 120 Jobs
Following layoffs and the shutdown of two neighborhood clinics earlier this year, Grady Memorial Hospital is cutting an additional 120 positions as it faces a $17 million budget shortfall in just the first four months of 2011. The cuts represent roughly 2 percent of Grady's workforce and will include some nurses, spokesman Matt Gove said. They are part of a spate of cost-saving measures, including cutting back on overtime, improving cash collections and reducing patients' length of stay (Williams, 6/14). 

Healthy Cal: Survey Says Low-Income Californians Want More Say In Health Care
Nearly six in ten low-income Californians say they would be interested in switching health care providers if they had a choice, according to a new, independent survey of poor and near-poor state residents. The survey was sponsored by the Blue Shield of California Foundation, which has worked with clinics and health centers to improve their operations and their reputations (Weintraub, 6/15).

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. The full summary of the day's news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.