A selection of health policy stories from Iowa, California, North Carolina, Kansas, Virginia, Michigan and Texas.
San Francisco Chronicle: Is Prop. 63 Missing Mental Health Goals?
Proposition 63, which voters approved in 2004, was touted as a way to address serious mental illnesses in California, but in the years since, critics -- including some of the original supporters -- have argued that it has gone off the rails in its implementation. They have questioned how the $7 billion the measure has generated -- from a 1 percent tax on income above $1 million -- has been spent, accusing state and county officials of squandering millions on public relations campaigns, consultants and programs loosely tied to mental illness (Joseph, 12/2).
North Carolina Health News: Three Mental Health Agencies Delay Transition
Three mental health agencies have gotten the green light from state officials to delay their transition to the new managed care model required by state law. Alliance Behavioral Healthcare, Partners Behavioral Health Management and Centerpoint all asked the state Department of Health and Human Services last week if they could move their "go-live" dates for the transition from Jan 1 to Feb 1. Al Delia, acting Secretary of Health and Human Services sent letters late Friday giving the agencies permission to delay (Hoban, 12/3).
California Healthline: Senate Leader Asks To Slow Healthy Families Transition
California Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) sent a four-page letter late last week to state health officials urging the state to move more slowly in its transition of approximately 860,000 children from the Healthy Families program into Medi-Cal managed care. ... The transition is scheduled to begin Jan. 1 with the first phase moving 415,000 children to Medi-Cal plans (Gorn, 12/3).
The Associated Press: Branstad Administration Proposed Wage Freeze, Hike In Health Care Costs For State Workers
[Iowa] Gov. Terry Branstad's administration has proposed freezing wages and increasing health care costs for 20,000 state workers in negotiations with state employee unions. The talks are for new contracts slated to take effect next year (12/1).
Kansas Health Institute News: Douglas County Among Few Health Departments To Digitize Patient Records
The Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department will be closed for two days next week in order to finish implementation of an electronic health record system. …. Since 2009, use of electronic health records (EHRs) has been surging among hospitals and doctors, thanks to federal incentives to make the costly transition. But of Kansas' 100 health departments, only Shawnee and Lyon qualified for the incentives because they are also Federally Qualified Health Centers (Cauthon, 11/30).
Richmond Times-Dispatch: Home-Bases Care Tested In Medicare Initiative
Family nurse practitioner Susanna Payne typed on her laptop computer as she quizzed Maureen Peterson on the medications Peterson was taking. ... Typically such an exam would take place in a medical office, but Payne handled it in the living room of the Richmond home Peterson shares with her husband and caregiver, Harry Peterson. Mrs. Peterson, 57, who needs a wheelchair to get around, is thankful that Payne, a nurse practitioner who works for VCU Health System’s House Calls program, was able to come to her. … the federal Medicare program is testing whether home visits can provide care of select homebound patients on par with, or beyond, office visits (Smith, 12/3).
Detroit Free Press: 85 Doctors-In-Training Heading To Southeast Michigan Clinics
A $21-million federal grant will send 85 doctors-in-training into southeast Michigan health clinics over three years beginning in July -- an effort to encourage them to consider a career in underserved areas. "It puts doctors in the much-needed safety net provider sites," said Chris Allen, CEO of the Detroit Wayne County Health Authority, which is charged with bolstering health care in areas lacking sufficient health care providers. As they finish out their training, many new doctors face daunting student loans and are drawn to higher-paying specialties (Erb, 12/3).
Stateline: Texas Cancer Agency Fights Controversy
The new Texas agency that is leading the state’s 10-year, $3 billion push to cure cancer is fighting for its reputation and future in the face of doubts about its operations. Spurred on by Governor Rick Perry and cyclist Lance Armstrong, voters in 2007 overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure that makes Texas the largest state funder of cancer research and prevention, second only to the federal government. At issue is whether the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas, commonly called CPRIT, is letting politics trump science in the way it doles out grant money (Prah, 12/3).