A selection of health policy stories from Michigan, Florida, Kansas, California and Arizona.
Des Moines Register: Union Files Complaint Against Branstad Over Health Insurance Order
Iowa’s largest public employees' union filed a complaint today with the state alleging Gov. Terry Branstad broke the law when he signed an executive order that allows state workers to voluntarily pay 20 percent of their health insurance premiums. The prohibitive practice complaint filed with the Iowa Public Employment Relations Board alleges state law bans Branstad from making unilateral changes to health insurance plans because they are collectively bargained, said Danny Homan, president Council 61 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (Krogstad, 7/10).
Health News Florida: DOH Denies Cover-Up On TB
Today, state officials defended the Department of Health from accusations that it covered up a serious TB outbreak in Jacksonville in order to proceed with downsizing of the state's largest agency. DOH's press office released a statement from Dr. Steven Harris, deputy secretary, that called the accusations inaccurate and "outrageous." Harris said that as soon as health officials noted a spike in Duval County TB cases, they asked for help from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and organized a coalition to address the issue (Gentry, 7/10).
Detroit Free Press: Bernard Kilpatrick Among 51 Who Get Health Care For Life In Wayne County
In Wayne County, as little as three years on the job was long enough to qualify for lifetime health care benefits for some high-ranking appointees and politicians. Fifty-one former Wayne County government employees are eligible for the benefit, which began in 1994. The county says it can't quantify what the health care coverage will cost and points out that it ended the program last year for everyone hired or elected after Oct. 1, 2011. That move came amid a firestorm of criticism over generous benefits that were being paid to top officials (Wisley, 7/11).
Kansas Health Institute News: Managed Care Execs Meet With KanCare Advisory Group
Representatives of the three managed care companies picked to run Kansas' $2.8 billion Medicaid program said Monday that they would keep the new system's procedural hassles to a minimum. "It's not like each of us are going to come in with new forms and administrative procedures," said Holly Benson, senior vice president of health policy for Centene, speaking at a meeting of the KanCare Advisory Council. KanCare is Gov. Sam Brownback's plan to overhaul the state's Medicaid programs in ways administration officials say will improve quality and lower costs (Ranney, 7/10).
HealthyCal: Program Trains Docs To Treat Underserved Groups
The San Joaquin Valley Program in Medical Education (PRIME) might not be that well known by residents yet, but it could improve health care for those who live in the eight-county area for years to come. The program is training doctors, most of whom are from the San Joaquin Valley, who want to treat underserved populations in the area. Currently, the San Joaquin Valley has too few doctors, including both primary care physicians and specialists (Noonan, 7/11).
Arizona Republic: Same-Sex Health Benefits Appeal May Hurt Tourism
Gov. Jan Brewer's latest fight for states' rights may impact Arizona's tourism economy, some say, pitting state officials against gay and lesbian tourists who pour millions of dollars into state coffers. The push back came in the wake of Tuesday's resignation of a member of the Arizona Tourism Advisory Council. Edwin Leslie, a Brewer appointee, stepped down over Brewer's decision to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to eliminate health-care benefits for state employees' same-sex partners (Sanchez, 7/10).
California Healthline: Capitol Reacts To Budget, Reform Ruling
Health care issues took center stage in California for the past month -- first, when budget pushback focused on health-related programs, and more recently, when the Supreme Court took a stand on legality of the federal health care reform law. Here's a taste of what California had to say about it all, culled from interviews, releases and a variety of media outlets (Gorn, 7/11).