Roundup: Kan. Lawmakers Promise Exchange Blueprint; Calif. Anti-Fraud Measure Faces Opposition

Kansas Health Institute News: Passing Exchange Legislation Will Be Challenge, Former Speaker Says
In a few months, the Kansas Insurance Department is expected to release a blueprint for how a health insurance exchange might work. "We still have a lot of work to do but, so far, the process has been going really, really well," said Linda Sheppard, head of the insurance department’s accident and health accident and health division. The exchange will be an online tool similar to Travelocity through which tens of thousands of Kansans, many who are now uninsured, will purchase private health insurance, qualify for federal subsidies or for an expanded Medicaid program (Ranney, 5/19).

The Connecticut Mirror: House Passes Most Favored Nation Ban
A proposal to ban a controversial provision used in contracts between health care providers and insurance companies passed the (Connecticut) House by a vote of 140-0 Thursday. It now goes to the Senate. The provision, known as a most favored nation clause, requires a hospital or health care provider to give an insurance company the lowest rates it offers. Hospitals and physicians lobbied for the ban, saying the clauses are unfair and anti-competitive (Levin Becker, 5/19).

Los Angeles Times: Bill Targets Anti-Fraud Requirement In Home Aid Program
(California) Lawmakers moved Thursday to repeal anti-fraud measures imposed on the state's home health aid program for the elderly, ill and disabled, two years ago after The Times reported that the program was riddled with cheaters. Some legislators said a requirement that caregivers provide fingerprints on their time sheets and a ban on payments sent to post office boxes are too cumbersome and expensive to administer (McGreevy, 5/20).

The Lund Report: Cultural Competence Bill Fails the House
Senate Bill 97 failed the (Oregon) House in a split 30-30 vote along party lines today. The bill would require the Oregon Health Authority and 18 health professional regulatory boards to develop guidelines and standards for providing culturally competent care to a variety of minority and ethnic groups. The bill's failure seems due to its fiscal impact, which the Legislative Fiscal Office found to be minimal (Waldroupe, 5/19).

The Baltimore Sun: Son Of Autism Doctor Charged With Practicing Without A License
The Maryland panel that oversees doctors in the state has charged a man with practicing medicine without a license just weeks after his father's license was suspended for putting autistic children at risk. The Maryland Board of Physicians says David Geier worked with his father, Dr. Mark Geier, at the Rockville and Owings Mills offices of Genetic Consultants of Maryland, where they used a drug therapy that autism experts say is based on junk science (Cohn, 5/19).

The Philadelphia Inquirer: Corbett Health Secretary In Dispute With Diner Over Eggs
Gov. Corbett's newly minted secretary of health likes his eggs fresh off the grill — very fresh. Diner owner Richard Hanna says he found that out the hard way. Hanna says that just weeks after Corbett tapped Eli N. Avila to serve as the state's top health official, Avila walked into Hanna's restaurant opposite the Capitol, ordered an egg sandwich breakfast, and angrily complained that it wasn't fresh enough. … A month or so later, a city health inspector descended on the restaurant, Roxy's Café. … (and) the visit was triggered by a complaint from the state Health Department — about eggs, no less (Couloumbis and Mauriello, 5/20).

NPR: Mississippi Losing The War With Obesity
Roughly 1 in 3 adult Americans is now obese. And ground zero for the nation's obesity battle is Mississippi — where 44 percent of kids are either overweight or obese. And 7 of 10 adults in the state are either overweight or obese. ... In Holmes County, for instance, nearly half the residents live in poverty. And not only is it the state's poorest county; it's also the heaviest (Elliott, 5/19).

The Washington Post: Montgomery Council Cuts Health, Retirement Benefits For Employees
The Montgomery County (Md.) Council unanimously passed a budget Thursday that rolls back health and retirement benefits and raises the prospect of a prolonged period of labor discord. The $4.37 billion budget cuts benefits for government and school employees by $33 million, a fraction of what the county spends each year on health care and retirement. But the impact on individual workers could be significant. County salaries vary widely, from $38,000 a year for a bus driver to $172,000 for a child psychiatrist, and the health component alone could reduce take-home pay for many employees by more than $1,000. Given the county's history, the survival of the cuts is significant. But the way they were passed shows what happens when a wealthy, liberal county is forced to confront years of political accommodation and generous spending (Laris, 5/20).

Kansas Health Institute News: Kansas Foundations Establish Health Reform Grant Fund
Five Kansas health foundations have formed a $450,000 fund to help various organizations and government agencies compete for billions of dollars in federal health reform grants. ... Sheldon Weisgrau, a former consultant and health care analyst at the Kansas Health Institute, has been hired by the foundations to administer the fund and to represent consumers in state policy discussions about the implementation of the federal reform law. He said millions more dollars are potentially available for Kansas (McLean, 5/19).

California Healthline: Amid Clinic Closures, One Health Care Center Keeps Expanding
State budget shortfalls, declining Medi-Cal reimbursement and recent federal cutbacks have led many community clinics in California to the financial edge. But the Sacramento Native American Health Center has bucked that trend and is expanding at a rapid rate — and it may offer a new model of care to handle the growing patient load in California (Gorn, 5/19).

MSNBC/Associated Press: Knoxville Hospital Could Lose Medicare Funding
Mercy Medical Center St. Mary's will lose its Medicare funding on June 5 if patient safety is not improved. The decision by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services comes after an inspection by federal regulators of Mercy Health Partner's 370-bed Knoxville hospital. Termination of Medicare funding would affect seniors admitted for inpatient services at the hospital. Mercy spokesman Craig Griffith told the Knoxville News Sentinel on Thursday that the hospital will do what it takes to keep its Medicare funding (5/20). 

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