A selection of health policy stories from California and Oregon.
Los Angeles Times: Deal On California Workers' Compensation Overhaul Appears Likely
Hopes for a last-minute agreement to overhaul the state's $11-billion workers' compensation system are growing as the end of the 2012 legislative session approaches. A small group of labor unions and large employers has been meeting quietly since April to craft legislation that would cut administrative, legal and medical costs enough to fund a significant boost in benefits paid to workers who suffer permanent disabilities from job-related injuries or illnesses. And an agreement seems imminent (Lifsher, 8/9).
The Associated Press/Sacramento Bee: Audit Of Mental Health Initiative Sought
Two lawmakers on Wednesday requested a detailed audit to determine whether the state has spent mental health funding from a 2004 ballot initiative the way voters intended. The request came in response to an investigation by The Associated Press last month that found tens of millions of dollars raised under Proposition 63 have gone to programs designed to help those who have not been diagnosed with any mental illness. Those programs include yoga, gardening, art classes and horseback riding. (Dreier, 8/8).
HealthyCal: Guiding The Uninsured To Low-Cost Health Care Services
More than 7 million Californians have no health insurance at some point during any given year. For many, this means no doctor visits and no preventive care. Poor, frustrated and desperate, these citizens often think they have no access to health care. In truth, there are thousands of low-cost and no-cost clinics and agencies that support the uninsured. Californians for Patient Care maintains a robust database of more than 5,000 contacts linking the uninsured with a wide range of discount services (Perry, 8/8).
Marketplace: In Oregon, Health Reform Is Welcome
There are -- just as a rough estimate -- a zillion or so moving parts in the health care law. Individual mandates, mandatory coverages, lots of stuff. One of the big ones is Medicaid. States can choose to expand their coverage for the poor and disabled, or they can choose not to. If they do expand it, and enroll people who earn to 133 percent of the poverty level, the feds will pick up virtually the entire bill for the new recipients. Oregon has tried health reform before, with mixed results. Now it's trying something new (Hartman, 8/8).
California Healthline: Nearing Consensus On Dense Tissue Bill
In case you missed it, yesterday was the day to ask people if they're dense. The Legislature last session officially approved Aug. 8 as Are You Dense Day. Not surprisingly, the occasion yesterday marked the reintroduction of a bill that would notify women if their dense breast tissue might interfere with mammogram results. SB 1538 by Joseph Simitian (D-Palo Alto) has passed the Legislature before despite opposition from provider groups. Last year the governor vetoed it (Gorn, 8/9).