State Roundup: Gov. Brown Offers Revisions To Health Budget

Los Angeles Times: Governor's Budget Revision Includes Changes In Mental Hospitals
A new state department would be formed to manage California's violence-plagued mental hospitals under a proposal in the governor's Monday budget revision. The push to create a Department of State Hospitals — and eventually do away with the Department of Mental Health, which now oversees the facilities — comes as lawmakers and employee unions press for changes to address increasing patient assaults on fellow patients and staff (Romney, 5/17).

HealthyCal: Brown Backs Away From Prop. 10 Shift
Gov. Jerry Brown has set aside, for now, his plan to shift more than $1 billion to the Medi-Cal program from a special fund for children's services. Brown, as part of his revised budget Monday, said he still wants to use the money, which comes from a tobacco tax known as Proposition 10 (5/16).

Kaiser Health News: Minnesota GOP Between A Rock And A Hard Place On Health Exchange Options
Minnesota state Rep. Steve Gottwalt, a three-term Republican with 10 years experience in the health care industry, is no fan of last year's health care law -- or its requirement that states set up insurance exchanges. But as chairman of the Health and Human Services Reform Committee, he decided he needed to weigh in on the exchange. Unfortunately, from his standpoint, all the choices are bad (Gugliotta, 5/16).

The Boston Globe: Rebound Continues For Health Insurers
Four major Massachusetts health insurance companies yesterday posted strong financial gains for the first three months of 2011, a year after reporting steep first-quarter losses they blamed on the Patrick administration's decision to cap premium increases. The gains, which continued a rebound that started midway through last year, reflected factors also at play in the national health insurance market, including cost-conscious patients who are delaying medical care, a boost in investment income, and lower administrative spending (Weisman, 5/17). 

The Baltimore Sun / (South Florida) Sun Sentinel: Some Ob-Gyns In South Florida Turn Away Overweight Women
In a nation with 93 million obese people, a few ob-gyn doctors in South Florida now refuse to see otherwise healthy women solely because they are overweight. Fifteen obstetrics-gynecology practices out of 105 polled by the Sun Sentinel said they have set weight cut-offs for new patients starting at 200 pounds or based on measures of obesity — and turn down women who are heavier. Some of the doctors said the main reason was their exam tables or other equipment can't handle people over a certain weight. But at least six said they were trying to avoid obese patients because they have a higher risk of complications (LaMendola, 5/16). 

News Service of Florida: Doctors: 2011 Session Operation Was Successful
The doctors' lobby was a big winner on what it saw as a major medical malpractice bill, one that will make it less likely that plaintiffs will bring in out-of-state doctors as expert witnesses. ... they also were the winners in an annual industry fight over other professionals seeking the legal ability to do things traditionally only doctors have been allowed to do. ... In [one] of these "scope of practice" fights, advanced registered nurse practitioners again tried to persuade lawmakers to let them prescribe medicine, saying it would save the state money. ... Doctors also won additional money for new residency slots -- something they've long complained has hurt the state's efforts to keep new doctors from leaving (Royse, 5/16). 

The Connecticut Mirror: SustiNet Backers, Malloy Administration Reach Agreement
Leaders of the push to create a SustiNet state-run health plan have reached an agreement with the Malloy administration and Democratic legislative leaders, with a plan that includes examining but not committing the state to a public insurance option. ... The agreement is similar to a compromise reached last month between the administration and legislative leaders that called for allowing municipalities and some nonprofits to buy into the state employee health plan and creating a SustiNet cabinet to oversee health reform efforts (Levin Becker, 5/16). 

The Texas Tribune: House Passes Bill On Indigent Care For Immigrants
A contentious measure that would allow Texas counties to consider the income of a legal immigrant's sponsor when determining if the immigrant is eligible for indigent health care passed the House today. ... A sponsored alien is one who is admitted into the country legally after an affidavit of support is submitted in his or her favor by a U.S. citizen. The bill passed the House 100 to 37; it passed the Senate last month (Aguilar, 5/16). 

WBUR's CommonHealth blog: 'A Thousand Brilliant Minds' Unleashed On Health Reform
"We have the ability to unleash a thousand brilliant minds, to innovate and create and find better ways to provide care and pay for care." That lovely phrase came today from the Massachusetts Health and Human Services Secretary, Dr. JudyAnn Bigby. It may come back to haunt her, if people start comparing those thousand brilliant minds to a thousand cooks, spoiling the broth. But it seemed to sum up nicely today's premiere in the series of legislative hearings to be held on Gov. Patrick’s proposals for the next phase of health reform (Goldberg, 5/16).

Kansas Health Institute News: State Medicaid Directors Want Flexibility To Trim Rolls, Control Costs
Governors seeking more flexibility from the federal officials to manage Medicaid costs have a new ally. The National Association of Medicaid Directors recently joined the governors in urging federal officials to "find more workable interpretations" of federal rules that limit states' abilities to adjust eligibility requirements for both Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). In a May 6 letter to Cindy Mann, deputy director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the association urged the agency to create a template that would provide "clarity" to states seeking waivers from what are known as maintenance of effort (MOE) requirements (Ranney, 5/16).

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