A selection of health policy stories from Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Texas, Massachusetts, Washington state, Iowa and California.
CT Mirror: Budget Chairwoman Threatens To Scuttle New Restrictions On Health Care For Poor
The House chairwoman of the legislature's budget panel threatened Tuesday to scuttle new restrictions on health care for the poor sought by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's administration after learning patients were warned of changes before they had been enacted. Rep. Toni Walker, D-New Haven, who not only co-chairs the Appropriations Committee, but also an advisory panel conducting a hearing Tuesday on the changes, charged the Department of Social Services with overstepping its bounds (Phaneuf, 6/26).
Philadelphia Inquirer: Report: Pa. Did Not Adequately Monitor Medicaid Services To Elderly, Disabled
Pennsylvania was one of seven states that failed to monitor adequately the quality of services provided to the elderly and disabled at home or in community settings under a Medicaid program, according a report issued this week by the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Federal regulations require states to review service plans for beneficiaries of the Medicaid program, ensure that service providers are qualified, and have a system to track abuse, neglect and exploitation by those who work in the beneficiaries' homes. Pennsylvania failed on all three counts, according to the report (Brubaker, 6/27).
Bloomberg: Teen Fights For Benefits As Medicaid Contractor Says No
Melody and Steve Lancaster’s 16- year-old foster son, who's paralyzed from the neck down, needed a mechanized ceiling lift to help him get into the bathtub or his favorite beanbag chair. While Texas Medicaid officials had already paid as much as $13,000 for similar devices for others, the company that the state hired to look after the teenager's health needs refused. Superior Health, a unit of Centene Corp. (CNC) that covers about 800,000 Texas Medicaid recipients, also rejected at least two other requests for lifts, state records show. … The teen's story shows how states may be limiting patients’ benefits by outsourcing Medicaid, the $460 billion public health program for the poor and disabled, to for-profit companies with "little or poor oversight" from authorities, Hofer said (Flavelle and Babcock, 6/27).
Modern Healthcare: Alaska Medicaid Agency To Pay $1.7 Million In HIPAA Settlement
Alaska's state Medicaid agency has agreed to pay HHS $1.7 million to settle possible violations of the security-rule provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 and take actions to guard the electronic protected health information of the state's Medicaid beneficiaries. An investigation conducted by HHS' Office for Civil Rights found that Alaska's Health and Social Services Department did not have adequate policies and procedures established to safeguard electronic protected health information (Zigmond, 6/26).
Boston Globe: Catholic Leaders Urge Opposition To Contraception Mandate
The archbishop of Boston and Catholic lay leaders called on the faithful Monday night to join in the public debate over government policies they say force Catholic institutions to choose between living the tenets of their faith and fulfilling the church’s call to provide services to the needy. In a live forum broadcast on the CatholicTV network from the Monsignor Francis T. McFarland Television Center in Watertown, Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley spoke out against government policies that violate Catholic teachings but do not include a religious exemption (Fox, 6/26).
(Vancouver, Wash.) Columbian: Partnership Has Helped Veterans, State For Decade
In the last decade, nearly 15,000 veterans and their dependents have been connected to Veterans Affairs benefits to which they were entitled but weren't receiving. One tangible result of those connections? More than $35 million in health care savings for the state of Washington. Those connections and savings are attributed to an innovative partnership between the Washington State Health Care Authority and the Washington State Department of Veteran Affairs -- a partnership that celebrates its 10th anniversary this summer (Harshman, 6/25).
Des Moines Register: Polk County Supervisors For The First Time Will Start Paying Part Of Their Health Insurance
Starting next week, and for the first time perhaps in history, Polk County’s elected officials will be paying for a portion of their taxpayer-subsidized health insurance. The move, which is expected to save taxpayers between $1,800 and $3,000 in combined yearly insurance premiums for 10 elected office holders, was made in relative secrecy this morning when Polk County supervisors approved a new employee manual for elected officials (Eckhoff, 6/26).
California Healthline: Autism Task Force Bill Moves to Assembly Health Committee
SB 1050 establishes a telehealth task force under the State Department of Developmental Services to develop evaluation and diagnostic procedures for autism and other autistic spectrum disorders. It is sponsored by The Children's Partnership, a national nonprofit, non-partisan, child advocacy group with offices in Santa Monica and Washington, D.C. The bill is expected to result in a demonstration project to test the task force's recommendations. The pilot, targeting the underserved rural and inner city communities, would be developed by an academic institution, in conjunction with state regional centers and/or school districts (Edlin, 6/27).