State Roundup: Different Perks, Penalties For Hospitals Under New Mass. Law

A selection of health policy stories from Massachusetts, Texas, Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Carolina and California.

The Boston Globe: Health Law Benefits Some Mass. Hospitals, Penalize Others
Steward Health Care System, which ¬≠includes struggling Carney Hospital, will not qualify for millions of dollars in special payments under the new Massachusetts health care law, because legislators said they did not want to subsidize a for-profit company. The provision is one of several buried in the 350-page bill that penalize or benefit certain hospitals. The cost-control law also targets three Harvard-¬≠affiliated hospital systems -- Partners HealthCare, Boston Children's Hospital, and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center -- to pay a one-time $60 million tax to fund health programs (Kowalcyz, 8/15).

The Dallas Morning News: Parkland Ousts Interim CEO, Hires For-Profit Hospital Exec
Crisis-plagued Parkland Memorial Hospital is replacing its interim chief executive with a retired vice president from Tenet Healthcare, a large for-profit health care chain that has survived big troubles of its own. … Out of a job is Dr. Thomas Royer, who a spokeswoman said was unavailable for an interview Tuesday. Branson credited him with providing stability but acknowledged that Parkland is struggling to "hard-wire" changes to protect patients. Regulators are threatening to cut off essential federal funding unless the public hospital makes systemic reforms by April (Egerton and Moffeit, 8/15).

Minneapolis Star Tribune: 3,100 Minnesotans Lose State Health Insurance After An Audit
About 3,100 Minnesotans have lost state-provided health insurance after a special audit of public employees and their dependents, but hundreds may have been cut off simply because they failed to submit required paperwork. The audit, conducted by the Minnesota Management and Budget agency, was designed to save the state money by weeding out relatives ineligible for state coverage. But up to half may have lost insurance because they missed the deadline or submitted incomplete or improper documentation (Hernandez, 8/15).

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Aurora, Anthm Team Up With Health Plan
Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Wisconsin will offer a health plan that guarantees savings for employers if workers and their families use Aurora Health Care's network of hospitals and doctors for nearly all their care. Aurora announced a similar agreement last month with Aetna Inc. The health system basically is guaranteeing that it can provide care at a lower cost if people remain within its network (Boulton, 8/14).

North Carolina Health News: Lawmakers Grill State And Local Officials Over Western Highlands Losses
Legislators called health and human services officials to Raleigh for a committee meeting to explain $3 million dollars in losses at the Western Highlands Network, one of the state's new mental health managed care agencies (Hoban, 8/15).

The Associated Press: Mental Health Agency Problems Worry NC Lawmakers
North Carolina lawmakers sounded apprehensive Tuesday over how a regional mental health agency found itself with a multimillion-dollar shortfall within months of taking on expanded Medicaid responsibilities that are set to be imitated statewide by 2013. The Western Highlands Network, which manages services for the mentally ill, substance abusers and the developmentally disabled in Buncombe and seven other western counties, converted to a new administrative format last January (Robertson, 8/14).

The Boston Globe: Effort Aims To Land Returning Veterans In Medical Device Jobs
AdvaMed 2012, the national medical device industry convention set for October in Boston, will launch a program designed to increase the hiring of U.S. veterans returning to civilian life. The initiative, called MedTech Veterans Program Boot Camp for Returning Heroes, was previewed Tuesday at a kickoff event for the gathering of the Advanced Medical Technology Association, the trade group known as AdvaMed(Weisman, 8/15).

HealthyCal: For Uninsured, Methadone Treatment Hard To Secure
Like millions of other Americans, Robinson is too young, able-bodied, or childless to qualify for assistance. A substance abuse disorder has to be accompanied by "severe" mental illness to qualify as a disability covered under Medi-Cal, the state's Medicaid program. ... If the health reform law is successful in expanding Medicaid to people like Robinson, his chances at addiction treatment will also improve. The Affordable Care Act states that mental health services will be reimbursed on par with medical procedures. Analysts say this will free up providers to see more addiction patients, and treatment services will increase in turn. But methadone's role in this equation is unclear (Landau, 8/15).

California Healthline: Task Force Tackles Access, Coverage, Workforce Issues
The state's health care task force met yesterday with an ambitious end goal and a complex agenda that broached access and coverage issues, as well as health workforce concerns. The end goal, according to Diana Dooley, HHS Secretary and a co-chair of the task force, is embodied in a single question: "What will it take for California to be the healthiest state in the nation?" Getting to that simple question is a complex, multi-layered, 10-year effort. Yesterday's meeting was the third of four opening workshops of the Let's Get Healthy California Task Force, formed by executive order of Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown (Gorn, 8/15).

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