News outlets report on a variety of state health policy issues.
California Watch: Settlement Orders Better Mental Health Care For Foster Kids
After a nine-year court battle, a landmark class-action settlement was preliminarily approved this week that would require the state to provide more effective mental health services for the children in or about to enter foster care. Its reach is expected to be significant. California has 61,000 children in the foster care system, and it runs the nation's largest child welfare system at a cost of about $4.7 billion per year (Yeung, 9/30).
The Associated Press: NY Panel Proposes Medicaid Coverage For Transgender Surgery And Hormone Replacement Therapy
A panel advising Gov. Andrew Cuomo on ways to revamp Medicaid has proposed that the program that pays for low-income residents' health care cover surgery and therapy for transgender New Yorkers. Cuomo earlier this year appointed a task force to overhaul the Medicaid system, which paid $53 billion for medical care in New York last year, and cut costs. A group of health care professionals examining disparities in coverage is expected to decide next week where the transgender proposal fits on its list of priorities (Virtanen, 9/29).
Georgia Health News: State Follows Alabama In Kids' Plan Switch
Georgia will soon join a handful of other states in a voluntary switch of thousands of children now covered by a state employee health plan into a federally funded insurance program for kids in lower-income families. A spokesman for the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said this week that the agency has approved Montana, Alabama, Texas, Kentucky and Pennsylvania to open up their Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to kids of state employees. Georgia officials say they expect to get similar approval shortly (Miller, 9/29).
Related, from KHN's Capsules blog: Florida CHIP Program 'Treading Water' (Galewitz, 9/29).
Minnesota Public Radio: New Law Requires Screening For Applicants For Assisted Living Services
A new state law goes into effect Saturday that requires anyone who wishes to move into an assisted living facility have a telephone consultation with a trained nurse or social worker. The applicant will be asked a series of 'screening' questions before being allowed to go to an assisted living facility (9/29).
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Abele's Budget Raises Health Costs For Workers, Trims Sheriff's Budget
Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele's 2012 budget fills a $55 million gap mainly by shifting additional health care costs to employees and retirees and making major cuts to Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr.'s budget…. Abele proposes about $20 million in additional health insurance premiums, co-pays and deductibles for active employees and $5.7 million in higher costs to retirees. Employee premiums for family coverage would rise $100 to $250 a month, under Abele's budget (Schultze, 9/29).
Denver Post: Colorado GOP Stalls Application for Federal Grant To Set Up Health Insurance Exchange
Republican lawmakers are delaying the state from applying for $22 million in federal funds that would help set up Colorado's health insurance exchange, the virtual marketplace for insurance that is a key tenet of the Affordable Care Act passed by Congress last year. Republicans say the current application the state has prepared for the federal grant contains language that runs over states' rights. They have also previously questioned proposed six-figure salaries for some of the health insurance exchange's staff (Hoover, 9/30).
The Sacramento Bee: Judge Rules Sacramento County Must Pay Hospital Care For Indigent Residents
A judge has ruled that Sacramento County must pay for medical care that UC Davis Medical Center provided to indigent county residents since mid-2008, costs estimated so far at tens of millions of dollars. The ruling by Sacramento Superior Court Judge Lloyd Connelly, issued Monday and announced Thursday by the UC Davis Health System, caps years of conflict over the county's decision to stop reimbursing for care given patients under the county's Medically Indigent Services Program (Kalb, 9/30).
California Healthline: UC-Davis Wins Emergency Services Lawsuit
Superior Court Judge Lloyd Connelly said the county has a responsibility to pay for indigent care, whether the county contracts with a specific provider of those emergency services or not. "The judge rejected every defense the county had to not pay us," UC-Davis attorney David Levine said (Gorn, 9/30).
WBUR: Mass. House Aims To Cut Health Spending Growth In Half
The House would have doctors and virtually everyone else who cares for patients move to a global payment system in three years. ... For doctors and for hospitals it would mean that they would have to budget for a patient's care. For patients it would mean that most of us would need to have a primary care doctor so that there is someone who is coordinating our care (Bebinger and Pfeiffer, 9/29).
The Lund Report: Health Equity Gains Traction in Coordinated Care Organization Work Group
Eliminating health inequities among the state’s diverse population needs to become a keystone of the coordinated care organizations (CCOs) that expect to deliver healthcare to more than 600,000 people starting next July. That consensus was apparent when a work group convened last week (Thomas, 9/29).
The Lund Report: Insurance Exchange Board Member Have High Hopes, and Many Concerns
Accessibility of information and increasing options for individuals and small businesses seeking affordable health insurance are among the many concerns the newly appointed board members to Oregon's Health Insurance Exchange have on the eve of their first meeting Friday in Portland. ... The hope is that, through a website, those individuals and small businesses can compare multiple health plans, and find the plan that is not only affordable, but fits their health needs (Waldroupe, 9/29).
Health News Florida: Medical Board Protest Planned
Usually, prescription drug-abuse picketing is aimed at "pill mills." But on Friday, protesters will target the Florida Board of Medicine, saying it has been too slow to act against physicians who push narcotics (Gentry, 9/29).
The Chattanooga Times Free Press/MSNBC: Health Care Program Reaches 7,500
A community health partnership that provides health care to the working poor has delivered more than $75 million in services to nearly 7,500 people in seven years, officials with the Medical Foundation of Chattanooga announced Thursday. Project Access was launched in 2004 to help Hamilton County residents who couldn't find health insurance but earned too much to qualify for TennCare or Medicare. It now has all three major hospitals and 600-plus volunteer physicians participating (Garrett, 9/29).
Kansas Health Institute: Agencies Choose Vendor For New Home-Care Tracking System
Agency officials today announced their choice of First Data, saying the new, electronic verification and monitoring system will save the state $7.6 million a year. They are calling the system KS Authenticare. The new system will require that care attendants use a telephone landline or a GPS-enabled mobile device to log in and out as they arrive and leave a residence (9/29).