State Roundup: Restraining Order Issued In Mo. Health Exchange Fight

A selection of health policy news from Missouri, California, Texas and Kansas.

Politico Pro: Restraining Order Issued In Exchange Fight
A judge issued a temporary restraining order Tuesday against Missouri’s secretary of state, Robin Carnahan, to prevent her from finalizing the language of a ballot question on health insurance exchanges. Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, a Republican, sought the restraining order while a state court considers whether the language of the ballot question is biased, a claim leveled by Kinder and the state’s top Republicans. GOP lawmakers are pushing for voters to decide whether to deny Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon the authority to unilaterally establish a health insurance exchange in Missouri to comply with the federal health law. But Carnahan, a Democrat and the state's top elections official, gets to write the language (Cheney, 8/21).

California Healthline: Senate OKs Oral Chemotherapy Mandate
Health insurers will need to cover oral chemotherapy medication if a bill passed Monday by the Senate is signed by the governor. Today, the Assembly is expected to concur on AB 1000 by Henry Perea (D-Fresno), a decision that would send the bill to the governor's desk for a signature. The mandate on oral chemotherapy coverage would not necessarily apply to coverage within the Health benefits for the exchange, but said he has not yet had conversations with the Benefit Exchange. Bill author Perea said he's talking with legislators about the possibility of including oral chemotherapy medication among the essential health exchange staff. … A similar bill was passed twice before and vetoed both times by Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Perea is hoping for a different outcome with Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat (Gorn, 8/22).

Houston Chronicle: Most Mental Health Clinics Have Suspect Medicare Claims
A troubling new report on for-profit mental health centers reveals nearly all of those in Houston have problems with their Medicare claims, confirming many of the problems first reported by the Houston Chronicle nearly a year ago. The report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, found that 13 of the 16 clinics in Houston -- 81 percent -- had "questionable" claims submitted to Medicare. These types of clinics, known as "community mental health centers," offer intense mental health therapy in an outpatient-setting, as an alternative to a mental health hospitalization (Langford, 8/22).

California Watch: State's Political Watchdog To Investigate Health District Conflicts
The state's political watchdog agency has launched investigations into whether officials in two publicly funded health care districts in the Bay Area and Southern California were involved in decisions that benefited them financially. The investigations by the California Fair Political Practices Commission, made public this week, will focus on whether three current and former board members violated the state’s conflict-of-interest laws (Gollan, 8/22).

Kansas Health Institute News: Feds Accept KanCare Waiver Request
Officials at the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have accepted Kansas' Section 1115 Medicaid waiver application as complete and today began taking public comments on the proposal. … The application, if approved by the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, would allow the administration of Gov. Sam Brownback to move forward with its plan to remake the state's Medicaid program as KanCare, the governor's plan to hire three insurance companies to manage Medicaid services day-to-day. The Kansas Medicaid program has about 380,000 enrollees and costs about $2.9 billion a year (8/21).

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