A selection of health policy news from Kansas, Georgia, Florida, Missouri and Texas.
The Associated Press: Kansas Shortens Waiting List For In-Home Medical Care
Kansas has updated its roster of disabled residents who have requested state-funded, in-home medical care and is now better equipped to provide that care more quickly and efficiently, officials in the governor’s office said Monday. The waiting list was cut by more than a third, from 3,423 to 2,197 people, after a company hired by the state spent the last few months trying to reach out to those on the lists, Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer and Aging and Disability Services Secretary Shawn Sullivan said (Milburn, 11/5).
Kansas Health Institute News: 100 People To Come Off PD Waiting List, Officials Say
Top officials in the administration of Gov. Sam Brownback said today that they now have a list they accept as accurate of the 2,197 physically disabled persons who are awaiting home- and community-based Medicaid services. Armed with the updated information, they said, they are ready to begin providing services to 100 people currently on the list by the end of the year. "We now have a better handle on the waiting list and will be able to make better decisions about how to manage the waiting list and best utilize the funding provided by the Legislature for this program," said Shawn Sullivan, secretary of the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services (McLean, 11/5).
Georgia Health News: State Eyes Major Change In Medicaid
State officials, in an abrupt shift, are moving toward creating a case management system for hundreds of thousands of Medicaid beneficiaries who are "aged, blind and disabled."’ This summer, the Department of Community Health, citing the uncertainty about Medicaid's future, stepped away from a proposal to place beneficiaries residing in nursing homes, as well as those with disabilities, into managed care plans. But now, the Medicaid agency appears to envision a lighter form of managed care for those beneficiaries (Miller, 11/5).
Modern Healthcare: AMA Joins Friend-Of-The-Court Brief In Fla. 'Docs And Glocks' Case
The American Medical Association and nine other medical specialty societies have filed a friend-of-the-court brief opposing a Florida statute that prohibits physicians from asking patients and families about guns in their home and from noting a patient's gun ownership in his or her medical record. "Not only do physicians lose the right to express themselves freely, but their patients are deprived of the full range of medical care and professionalism that they could expect from their physicians," the brief stated. In July, a U.S. District judge in Miami blocked enforcement of the law. The state of Florida appealed this decision. The brief filed by the medical societies is in opposition to Florida's appeal (Robeznieks, 11/5).
Modern Healthcare: Mo. System To Pay $9.3 Million Settlement
Freeman Health System, Joplin, Mo., has agreed to pay $9.3 million to settle potential liabilities after it self-reported compensation arrangements with 70 doctors going back a full decade that may have created illegal financial incentives to refer patients to the hospital. According to the signed settlement agreement and a related news announcement from the Justice Department, the two-hospital system disclosed that between 1999 and 2009, it gave doctors incentive pay based on the Medicare revenue generated from their referrals for diagnostic testing and other health services at Freeman clinics (Carlson, 11/5).
The Dallas Morning News: AG Asked To Weigh In On Dallas County's Benefits For Partners
A state senator is asking the Texas attorney general to offer an opinion on whether Dallas County's decision to help unmarried and gay employees pay for their partners' individual health insurance violates the Texas Constitution. State Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, wants Attorney General Greg Abbott to issue an official opinion on whether governmental agencies can legally offer such benefit programs. State voters in 2005 overwhelmingly voted to amend the state constitution to define marriage as a union between opposite-sex couples (Formby, 11/5).
Kansas Health Institute News: Aetna Acquisition Of Coventry Unopposed In Kansas
A top Aetna executive said Monday the health insurance company's planned acquisition of Coventry Health Care would benefit Kansas consumers by giving them more choices in the marketplace. Gregory Martino, an assistant vice president for governmental relations, made the comments in sworn testimony at a public hearing called by Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger. Martino said Coventry, which increased its Kansas footprint in 2010 when it acquired Wichita-based Preferred Health Systems, has "good market share" in the individual and small-group markets (McLean, 11/5).
Kansas Health Institute News: Building The Brownback Budget
Detailed spending proposals for the coming fiscal year prepared by officials at the state's three top health agencies outline how Gov. Sam Brownback's administration is planning to cap or cut spending on a broad range of health-related programs. The governor's formal budget recommendations for fiscal year 2014, which begins July 1, 2013, won’t be delivered to the Legislature until January when its new session begins. But agency chiefs were told as early as August by the governor to keep spending in check and to present alternatives for cutting 10 percent from each department's upcoming state general fund budget (Ranney and Shields, 11/5).