State Roundup: HHS Announces Community Health Center Grants; Blue Shield Of Calif. CEO To Retire

A selection of health policy news from California, New Hampshire, Georgia, Texas, Kansas, Pennsylvania and Maryland.

Texas Tribune: UT/TT Poll: Little Love For Legislative Branch
Texans generally don't like the federal health care law. … 45 percent said the court should overturn the entire law, 10 percent said the court should overturn the individual mandates and leave everything else in place, and only 26 percent said the court should leave the law intact (Ramsey, 5/24).

The Hill: Family-Run Health Centers Get $5 Million In Grants
The grants will fund health centers in all 50 states as well as Washington, D.C. "These centers provide the information that families need to make health care decisions that are right for their children," HHS Secretary Kathleen Secretary Sebelius said in a statement. "Family-to-Family Health Information Centers are a good investment and have a measurable and positive impact on families, and communities" (Baker, 5/23).

The Wall Street Journal: Healthcare Districts' Role Under Fire
Two (California) state assemblymen are training their sights on the municipal agencies known as healthcare districts, arguing they are outdated institutions whose funds would be put to better use helping county health systems. Healthcare districts today provide ambulance services, help build facilities such as nursing homes, allocate money to nonprofit health-care providers and run hospitals, among other things (White, 5/23).

California Healthline: Subcommittee Puts Co-Pay Idea On Hold
Co-pay is back. Last year, the Legislature passed and the governor signed a budget trailer bill that included Medi-Cal co-payments of $5 for some provider visits, up to $50 for emergency department visits and up to $100 for patients admitted to the hospital. That move required a CMS waiver but in February, federal officials denied it. Now, with the May budget revision, a scaled-down version of co-payments is back on the table (Gorn, 5/24).

Houston Chronicle: Texas Legislature Turning Its Attention To Healthy Eating
The growing problem of obesity, diabetes and health care costs for unhealthy habits will get plenty of attention in the state Capitol next year as lawmakers try to make getting access to nutritious food easier for Texans. "A quarter of the young people in this country are at risk for type 2 diabetes, and that's terrible," House Human Services Committee Chairman Richard Raymond, D-Laredo, said to open a joint hearing with the House Public Health Committee this week (Scharrer, 5/23).

Georgia Health News: Deal Launches State War On Obesity
Gov. Nathan Deal announced a major statewide initiative Wednesday to address the problem of obesity, calling it "one of the greatest challenges we face." The obesity program would combine efforts of state agencies, businesses, health care organizations, the philanthropic community, and Atlanta professional sports teams, Deal said. The initiative’s goals include promoting more physical activity and improved nutrition in schools, along with wellness policies in child care programs (Miller, 5/24).

Los Angeles Times: Blue Shield Of California CEO To Retire
Blue Shield of California's longtime chairman and chief executive, Bruce Bodaken, will retire at year's end, punctuating a career marked by praise for his early support of universal health coverage and criticism of his company's repeated rate hikes (Terhune, 5/24).

San Jose Mercury News: Blue Shield Of California CEO Bruce Bodaken To Retire In December
Bruce Bodaken, the longtime chairman, president and CEO of Blue Shield of California, will retire in December, the health plan announced Wednesday. Chief Operating Officer Paul Markovich will become president and a member of the board of directors on June 1, and will assume the CEO position upon Bodaken's departure (Kleffman, 5/23).

Modern Healthcare: Pa. Expands Telemedicine Coverage
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett said telemedicine coverage will expand under the state's Medicaid program. Corbett's office said in a news release that Pennsylvania's Medical Assistance program will now cover telemedicine care from additional specialty physicians, including cardiologists and neurologists (Lee, 5/23).

Kansas Health Institute News: Public Awareness Campaign Begins For Health Information Network
Starting June 1, patients of certain Kansas health care providers will receive privacy notices that tell them that their health records may be shared over a new statewide digital network. Today, officials in charge of regulating the network that is scheduled to go live July 1, briefed the media on what they think it will mean for patients and for the Kansas health care system. … Initially, patient information available on the network will be limited to demographics, medications, allergies, lab results, and medical history including problems, diagnoses, procedures, surgeries and immunizations. Down the road, more kinds of information likely will be available, such as a doctor's notes or dictation audio (Cauthon, 5/23).

Baltimore Sun: New Law Helps Schools Cope With Food Allergies
Maryland public schools will all soon be keeping emergency supplies of epinephrine on hand for students who may have an allergic reaction, and patient advocates are applauding the new law. … Susan Sweitzer, executive director of the Maryland-DC Chapter of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, [said] in a statement, "While many students in Maryland public schools already carry epinephrine auto-injectors, or keep a prescribed supply with the teacher or nurse, many others don't have a prescription or even know that they are allergic to anything" (Cohn and Walker, 5/24).

HealthyCal: Removing The Stigma From Mental Illness
[A] Mental Health Summit is the first part of a campaign funded by a $100,000 grant from Riverside County to improve awareness of mental health issues, increase access to treatment, and reduce stigma. … The summit is tied to the data from the Health Assessment Resource Center (HARC), which tracks health data for the Coachella Valley. HARC’s 2010 Executive Report noted that 44% of people living in Eastern Riverside County have no mental health coverage. Their survey found that almost 30 percent of parents think their child had social or emotional difficulties, yet only one in five of those children actually sees a therapist or psychiatrist (Potter, 5/23).

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