A selection of health policy stories from Minnesota, Connecticut, Oregon, California, Kansas, Missouri and Pennsylvania.
(St. Paul) Pioneer Press: Accretive's Penalty In Minnesota Doesn’t Scare Off Wall Street
Accretive Health got off pretty easy -- at least according to some on Wall Street. The $2.5 million that the Chicago-based firm must pay Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson is "relatively immaterial," wrote analysts from Credit Suisse on Tuesday, July 31, as they sized up the settlement announced between the parties. And the settlement's ban against Accretive Health doing business in Minnesota for the next two years doesn't mean much since the company already has lost its key clients here, said Bret Jones, an analyst with Oppenheimer & Co., in an interview (Snowbeck, 7/31).
CT Mirror: Abortion Coverage In State Plan Conflicts With Federal Regulations
The federal government's prohibition on funding abortion services sets up a new range of problems for Gov. Dannel Malloy's administration when Connecticut implements the next phase of the Affordable Care Act. Last week, the state's health insurance exchange board considered a plan selected by two of its subcommittees that would form the basis for all health insurance coverage in the state. Only companies that self-insure won't be required to offer that plan, modeled after ConnectiCare's HMO. ... Connecticut's Deputy Insurance Commissioner Anne Melissa Dowling, who chairs one of the subcommittees that recommended the plan, said abortion services were included in the benchmark plan because they are included in ConnectiCare's HMO and other plans considered by the exchange board (Radelat, 7/31).
The Oregonian: Oregon OKs 5 News Care Groups For State Health Reforms
The state on Tuesday approved five new coordinated care organizations, fleshing out the state's ambitious bid to remake care for low-income Oregon Health Plan members. The new groups, which start up September 1, will join eight others already approved by the state that open for business Wednesday, Aug. 1. ... The care groups will be given a set budget to care for a slice of roughly 600,000 Oregon Health Plan members, and must meet quality standards as well. In return for cutting costs, Oregon will receive nearly $2 billion from the federal government to subsidize the experiment (Budnick, 7/31).
Bay Area News Group/San Jose Mercury News: Subsidized Health Insurance 'Marketplace' Takes Shape
It has been described as a cross between Amazon and Expedia, but for health insurance, instead of books or travel. Imagine comparing insurance policies through an easily navigated online store. That's the promise of the California Health Benefit Exchange, set to open in 2014 as a key element of the national health reform law. Several million people and thousands of small businesses will be able to weigh competing plans, buy the one best for them and see if they qualify for subsidies to offset premium costs. … "It will be a huge step forward for consumers who right now are left alone at the mercy of big insurers in the individual market," said Anthony Wright, head of Health Access California, a consumer group (Kleffman, 7/31).
Kansas Health Institute News: Statewide Health Information Network To Go Live This Weekend
Four hospitals this week are expected to become the first in Kansas to "go live" exchanging electronic health records over a statewide network. Officials at Wesley Medical Center and three Via Christi Health hospitals, all in Wichita, currently are making final technical adjustments to their connection with the Kansas Health Information Network, said Kansas Health Information Network chief executive Laura McCrary. She said full connectivity with the network is scheduled for Friday (Cauthon, 7/31).
St. Louis Beacon: Missouri Supreme Court Tosses Out State's Caps In Medical Malpractice Cases
The Missouri Supreme Court has tossed out the state's caps on malpractice claims, touching off a strong reaction from supporters and opponents of the caps, put in place in 2005. The Missouri State Medical Association issued a strongly worded statement saying that the ruling "eviscerates one of the nation's most successful tort reform laws" and could result in physicians leaving the state (Mannies, 7/31).
Philadelphia Inquirer: Philly Demonstration Protests End Of General Assistance
Those worries have festered for months, since Gov. Corbett announced the end of General Assistance (G.A.), a program that helps 70,000 of Pennsylvania's poorest and sickest residents. Payments stop Wednesday. "We're seeing absolute panic right now about how people are going to maintain their housing primarily, get to doctor's appointments, and pay co-pays for medicines," said Marsha Cohen, executive director of the Homeless Advocacy Project. About 200 people rallied Tuesday against the cuts outside Corbett's Philadelphia office on South Broad Street. About half of former G.A. recipients live in the City of Brotherly Love (Hill, 8/1).
Bay Citizen/NBC: San Mateo Uninsured To Get Health Care
In an apparent about-face, the Peninsula Health Care District has approved $4.6 million in funding for a San Mateo County program that provides health care for uninsured, low-income adults. The move follows a Bay Citizen investigation in March, which found that the taxpayer-supported district had rejected a request from the San Mateo County Health System last year for a $4 million grant to help the uninsured. At the time, the district had a $43 million reserve of current public assets. The grant represents a large increase in funding for public health programs by the district. Last year, it spent 3.3 percent of its total assets -- or $1.8 million -- on health-related grants (Mieszkowski and Gollan, 7/31).