State News: Wis. Insurance Savings; N.Y. Major Hospital Merger Possible

A selection of health care stories from Minnesota, New York, California, Vermont, Texas, Maryland, Iowa and Kansas.

(St. Paul) Pioneer Press: Governor Touts $242 Million Saving In State Health Insurance Programs
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton claimed the first major success of his drive to improve government efficiency Thursday, saying a competitive-bidding process for state health insurance programs will save $242 million in the next two years. …. Republicans, who control the state House and Senate, launched an extension of their own government-efficiency plans - labeled "Reform 2.0" - in August (Belden, 10/20).

Minnesota Public Radio: Human Services Commissioner: Health Care Bidding to Save State $240M
The state required HMOs to competitively bid for state contracts in the seven-county metro area. [Commissioner Lucinda] Jesson said the bids will reduce the money taxpayers spend for health care without cutting any services (Scheck, 10/21).

The Associated Press/Burlington Free Press: Shumlin: Vermont State Hospital Will Not Reopen
Vermont has no plans to send mental health patients back to the state hospital in Waterbury, which was closed by flooding from the remnants of Hurricane Irene, Gov. Peter Shumlin said Thursday. Shumlin laid out a plan that he said would lead the state through a "three-to-five-year transition," likely ending with the new facility to house the most acutely mentally ill (Gram, 10/20).

California Healthline: Ruling Raises Questions for Mental Health Coverage
When the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled on Aug. 26 that Blue Shield of California must cover a policyholder's treatment for anorexia nervosa, the decision sent a ripple of uncertainty through the behavioral health community. Insurers, physicians, patient advocates and other stakeholders have speculated on whether the ruling could lead to more extensive coverage of mental illness (Stephens, 10/20).

The Dallas Morning News: State Inspectors Return To Parkland Memorial Hospital's Psychiatric Emergency Room To Investigate New Patient-Harm Complaints
State inspectors have returned to troubled Parkland Memorial Hospital this week to investigate new patient-harm complaints. Authorities said one focus is the psychiatric emergency room, whose failings triggered the crisis that began unfolding in May at Parkland and has led to its being the largest U.S. hospital ever to face a rare form of intensive federal oversight (Egerton, 10/20).

The Baltimore Sun: Baltimore's Latinos Face Disparities On Health, Study Finds
Many Latinos in Baltimore lack medical coverage, which contributes to problems such as fewer mothers getting prenatal care, according to a new report that takes the first comprehensive look at the group's health. The report, released Thursday by the city Health Department, compiled data from the U.S. Census, state health records and a survey of Latino residents to assess the needs of a rapidly growing group that is often left out of the health system (Walker, 10/20).

The New York Times: Two Major Hospital Groups In City Explore A Partnership
A partnership between the institutions, Continuum Health Partners and NYU Langone Medical Center, could alter the balance of power in New York City health care for a generation. It could also complicate efforts to control health care costs: with reduced competition, the hospitals would gain clout in negotiating rates with insurance companies, potentially driving up costs for employers and employees across the region (Hartocollis, 10/20).

Los Angeles Times: Free Clinic Puts Emphasis On Prevention
Amid makeshift exam rooms and rows of dental chairs, the Sports Arena has been transformed into an enormous health fair. ... The event, organized by the L.A.-based nonprofit CareNow, will run through Sunday and expects to treat 5,000 patients for high blood pressure, tooth decay and diabetes (Gorman, 10/21).

Des Moines Register: Iowa Insurer Exits Some Individual Health Policies
Des Moines-based American Enterprise Group announced Thursday that it will exit the individual major medical insurance market ... That leaves 22 insurance companies selling individual health insurance in Iowa. Seven companies command 95 percent of the market, with Wellmark the clear leader, administering about 143,000 policies (Belz, 10/20).

Kansas Health Institute News: KDHE Working To Replace $2.2 Million For Newborn Screening Program
The program, which screens newborns for 29 serious and life-threatening disorders, is currently paid for from the Children's Initiative Fund, or CIF. However, less money than was projected has been collected by the fund in recent years, and now the 20 programs funded by it face cuts (Cauthon, 10/20).

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from more than 300 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.