State Roundup: Moving Ahead On Exchanges; Ga. Training Minority Docs

The Denver Post: Colorado House Leader Wants Colorado Out Of Federal Health Reform But Into Exchanges
House Majority Leader Amy Stephens is no fan of "Obamacare." ... So Stephens, at first glance, seemed an unlikely co-sponsor of legislation that would enact one of the key tenets of health reform: the requirement that states set up health insurance "exchanges," marketplaces where individuals and small businesses can shop for insurance. "I think you have to explore the exchange issue on its own," Stephens said. "I've always been intrigued by the exchange idea and how it might help small business" (Hoover, 3/16). 

Kansas Health Institute News: Insurance Exchange Group Sees Vendor Demos
[The] Kansas Insurance Department ... has pulled together dozens of people from state government, foundations and the insurance and health industries to lay the groundwork for an exchange that must be operational by January 2014 and certified a year before that in order to meet requirements of the federal health reform law. The Affordable Care Act requires each state have one or more exchanges, which are intended to be one-stop, online shopping places for uninsured Kansans wanting to enroll in or buy health insurance. ... The exchanges also will serve Medicaid clients (Shields, 3/15). 

The Baltimore Sun: Md. Unveils Tax Credit Campaign For Small Businesses
State health officials and advocates joined CareFirst BlueCross Blue Shield Tuesday in unveiling a more than $150,000 campaign to spread the word about tax credits available to small businesses under federal health care reform. Small businesses with 25 or fewer employees and average wages of less than $50,000 are eligible for a credit of up to 35 percent of their health insurance costs. The businesses must also pay 50 percent of employee premiums to be eligible (Walker, 3/15).

Reuters: Pennsylvania Sued For Axing Low-Income Health Plan
Pennsylvania's governor and other state politicians have been sued in a class action suit after 41,000 residents lost health coverage following the state's axing of an insurance program for low-income workers. The suit, filed in a state court by three of the affected residents, said freshman Governor Tom Corbett wrongly redirected Pennsylvania's share of the money from a master settlement agreement between cigarette makers and states away from the health plan. As a result, the health plan, adultBasic Insurance, closed because no other funding provision was made (Gralla, 3/16). 

Related, earlier KHN story: Pennsylvania Closing State Health Plan For Low-Income Adults  (Gold, 2/23)

WBUR's CommonHealth Blog: Speaker DeLeo Says Towns Must Match Or Join State Health Plan
Massachusetts House speaker Robert A. DeLeo spoke to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce today. ... "By the time the House completes its work on the state budget, we will have passed legislation that establishes the state's Group Insurance Commission as the benchmark against which all municipal plans will be measured. If cities and towns can't meet or beat the GIC, they will be forced to join it. I've seen my hometown of Winthrop save $800,000 annually by joining the GIC" (Goldberg, 3/15). 

Health News Florida: Dentists Feel The Bite From Insurers
[A] dispute about discounted rates for some dental care has turned into a legislative fight between the Florida Dental Association and major players in the health-insurance industry. The dispute centers on patients who hit the coverage limits of their dental-insurance policies but need additional care. ... A House subcommittee Tuesday approved a bill that would bar insurance contracts from requiring dentists to charge fees set by insurers for such "non-covered" services. A Senate committee last week approved a similar measure (Saunders, 3/16). 

Georgia Health News: Training Minority Doctors A Big Priority For Georgia
There are simply not enough black doctors in Georgia to go around. In fact, physicians of all descriptions are scarce in most of rural Georgia and in urban communities where many minority patients live. These areas are federally labeled "medically underserved areas." Leaders of Georgia's four medical schools are working to remedy this situation, a quest they say will improve health care and the schools themselves. ... Studies show that black patients – already at overall greater risk for chronic disease than whites – consistently get better results when treated by black doctors (Collins, 3/15). 

Los Angeles Times: Health Net Faces Second Probe Over Lost Personal Data
California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones says he'll open an investigation of Health Net's loss of computer records containing personal information on nearly 2 million policyholders (Helfand, 3/16).

The Des Moines Register: Iowa Democrats: Nursing Home Inspectors Must Be Restored
Iowa would rehire the 10 nursing home inspector positions that were eliminated last month under action a Senate budget committee took Tuesday. Officials from the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals last month eliminated the positions amid concerns of budget shortfalls. Four of the inspectors had recently been hired and were still on probationary status while job offers to six others were rescinded (Clayworth, 3/15).

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