State Legislatures Take On Employee Health Plans, Medicaid Reform, Malpractice

News outlets report on a variety of state health policy news.

The Associated Press/NBC Washington: Virginia Senate Democrats Send Budget Wish List to McDonnell
Democrats in the state Senate have sent Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell a list of conditions they want addressed before allowing a new state budget necessary to fund state services and operations to pass. … They want the state to pay for the ultrasound exams now mandated for women seeking abortions under a bill McDonnell signed Wednesday. ... And they want Medicaid eligibility restored for about 4,500 nursing home residents (Lewis, 3/7).

Des Moines Register: Multi-Faceted Bill Gets Multi-Faceted Critique In House Subcommittee
A bill offering a grab-bag of measures meant to save money and improve government efficiency received a grab-bag of criticism during a House subcommittee hearing this afternoon. The bill, House File 2434, requires married state employees to enroll together in a family health insurance plan. That yielded criticism from union officials (Noble, 3/7).

Kansas Health Institute News: Legislators Push To Delay KanCare Start
A resolution urging Gov. Sam Brownback to delay by six months the start of his Medicaid reform plan was introduced today in the Kansas Senate. ... Brownback's reform plan, KanCare, is scheduled to start Jan. 1, 2013, contingent on federal approval. The resolution asks that the start date be postponed to July 1, 2013. Under KanCare, three managed care companies would oversee the day-to-day operations of the state's $2.8 billion Medicaid program (Ranney, 3/7).

The Connecticut Mirror: Malpractice, ODs, And A Big Database On Tap For Discussion
Lawmakers are hearing testimony on several health-related bills today, including: Treatment for drug overdoses: ....  Medical malpractice ... Create an all-payer claims database: A proposal from the governor's office would create a database of health care claims information that would provide information about the use, cost and effectiveness of medical services in the state (Levin Becker, 3/7).

Chicago Sun-Times: State Health Contracts Had Flaws, Auditor Says
The state awarded $7 billion in health-care contracts for state employees and retirees despite several flaws, including lax oversight and possible conflicts of interest, the state's top auditor concluded Wednesday. The report by Auditor General William Holland knocked the state's Department of Healthcare and Family Services, which was responsible for evaluating proposals from healthcare providers as it tried ditching the state's long-term health insurer in a move designed to save money (Maloney, 3/8).

New Orleans Times-Picayune: Jindal Staffer Fired For Opposing Plan To Move Office Of Elderly Affairs Martha Manuel's cell phone started ringing almost as soon as she walked out of a House committee room Tuesday afternoon, having just told legislators that Gov. Bobby Jindal's plans to have the Department of Health and Hospitals absorb the Governor's Office of Elderly Affairs would lead to cuts in senior programs and worse services for aging residents (Adelson, 3/7).

Health News Florida: Anonymous Letters Worry AHCA
Someone is sending warning letters to elderly Medicaid patients about the state's plan to move them all into managed care. ... In its release about the anonymous letter, the [Agency for Health Care Administration] said its purpose "appears to be to alarm" those enrolled in programs aimed at helping the elderly and disabled remain in their home or in community-based care, rather than in a nursing home (Gentry, 3/8).

Boston Globe: Tufts To Launch Physician Assistant Program
Tufts University School of Medicine plans to launch a master's program in January to train physician assistants, the fourth such program in Massachusetts and the first affiliated with a medical school. The 25-month program, which is in the accreditation process now, could begin accepting applications in May for enrollment of its first class of 30 students in January (Conaboy, 3/7).

The Wall Street Journal: New Front Open In Florida's Pill War
Now, a year after Florida stepped up its battle against pill mills, the state can point to some notable successes. ... The number of pain clinics in the state has fallen 38 percent from its peak, according to the Florida Department of Health. Yet Florida's pill problem persists as drug users and dealers adapt to the changing landscape and pill demand shifts to retail pharmacies and other establishments (Martin and Campo-Flores, 3/7).

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