A selection of health policy stories from Oklahoma, Vermont, New Jersey, California, Wisconsin, Louisiana and Kansas.
The Hill: Supreme Court Turns Down Appeal In Okla. 'Personhood' Case
The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear a case involving the anti-abortion-rights movement's push to define "personhood" in the law. By rejecting the appeal, the justices left in place a lower court's decision that found a personhood measure in Oklahoma would violate the Constitution. Only four of the nine justices have to agree for the court to take a case, so Monday's rejection could be a sign that the court's four conservative justices aren't interested in wading into personhood, a concept that has divided opponents of abortion rights (Baker, 10/29).
Politico Pro: SCOTUS Declines 'Personhood' Review
The U.S. Supreme Court Monday declined to review an appeal of Oklahoma Supreme Court's decision that a "personhood" ballot initiative to award the full rights of a person to a fetus is unconstitutional. The Center for Reproductive Rights, which joined with the ACLU and others to file suit against the Oklahoma petition, called the ruling a victory (Smith, 10/29).
Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Vermont Pushes State Employees To Use CHIP Program For Their Kids
The administration of Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin is encouraging state employees with children to consider dropping their kids from their parents' health care plan and instead enrolling them in Dr. Dinosaur, Vermont's version of the state-federal health insurance program for low-income children. The administration says the change could save state employees a lot of money -- and it could reduce the state's health care costs by millions of dollars (Kinzel, 10/29).
Politico Pro: New Jersey Hospitals Want To Try Bundling Program
A group of 34 New Jersey hospitals is "ready and willing" to move forward on a bundled payment demonstration project that CMS has delayed, a top New Jersey Hospital Association official said. But it's not clear whether they will get the chance. This month, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation announced that it was holding off on implementing a pilot program that would allow hospitals and doctors to share in savings they can achieve through better coordinating care during an inpatient stay. It would pay the hospitals a discounted rate based on the traditional prospective payment system and would pay doctors by the physician fee schedule, allowing the hospitals to retain any savings and make incentive payments to the doctors who helped achieve them (Norman, 10/29).
Los Angeles Times: California Officials To Review Licensing For HealthCare Partners
Following a patient lawsuit filed last month, California officials say they are reviewing whether HealthCare Partners and its medical groups are in compliance with state law. The California Department of Managed Health Care said Monday that it is "reviewing the allegations that HealthCare Partners is operating as a health plan without a license." Last month, patient Juan Carlos Jandres sued HealthCare Partners in Los Angeles County Superior Court, accusing it of violating state law by managing patient care without the necessary government license under the Knox-Keene Act (Terhune, 10/29).
Los Angeles Times: Local Clinics Brace For More Patients As Health Care Reform Takes Effect
There are 1,250 federally funded clinics nationwide that provide health care and social assistance, surviving on a mix of grants, fundraising and reimbursements from government insurance plans. The recession brought waves of additional patients who had lost jobs and health insurance, and the federal government provided $2 billion in stimulus money to help with the influx. Millions more low-income Americans are expected to begin seeking out doctors and routine health care in 2014 when they become eligible for insurance coverage (Gorman, 10/29).
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Milwaukee County Urged To Expand Mental Health Programs
More than $1 million in savings from downsizing two units at the Milwaukee County Mental Health Complex should be spent on expanding community mental health programs, advocates told the County Board at a public hearing Monday on the 2013 budget. Doing so would keep faith with a policy adopted by the County Board last year and help in a long-promised transition, said Barbara Beckert, manager of the Milwaukee office of Disability Rights Wisconsin. The board's budget committee followed County Executive Chris Abele in agreeing to shut one of four acute psychiatric care units and reduce the number of patients at a long-term program for patients with developmental disabilities next year (Schultze, 10/29).
The Associated Press: LSU Execs: Downsizing Leads To Med School Shortage
LSU health care executives have told university officials that downsizing throughout the Louisiana State University public hospital system creates an $83 million budget shortage in medical school programs. LSU System Executive Vice President Dr. Frank Opelka said medical school funding relies on revenue from hospital operations. The Advocate reports that Opelka told the LSU board Friday that reductions in bed capacity and services at the hospitals mean less revenue (10/29).
Kansas Health Institute News: Initiative Aims To Boost Integrated Care
Amid national concerns that the seriously mentally ill are dying from preventable diseases, a leading Kansas health care philanthropy is about to make a down payment on a multi-year initiative aimed at integrating physical and mental health services for safety-net patients. Within the next couple weeks, the Sunflower Foundation expects to open a competitive grant program that Chief Executive Billie Hall said likely would provide more than $1 million in funds to selected health providers focusing on integrated patient care. Foundation officials expect to award the grants by March (Sherry, 10/29).
California Healthline: Assembly Committee Examines State's Moves To Medi-Cal Managed Care
The Assembly Committee on Health last week asked for a progress report and assurances from Department of Health Care Services officials that the state was not only ready to move many Medi-Cal beneficiaries into managed care, but also ready to evaluate the process (Gorn, 10/30).
California Healthline: State Initiates Expedited Hearing Process For Adult Day Services Appeals
When the Department of Health Care Services launched its new Community Based Adult Services plan at the start of October, more than 2,000 people who had been denied services were still waiting for their eligibility appeal hearings. Now DHCS officials say almost all of what is now a total of 2,500 eligibility appeals will be heard by Department of Social Services' administrative law judges by the end of November. That means roughly 2,000 cases will have been heard in just over two months -- almost 200 administrative law hearings a week (Gorn, 10/29).
California Healthline: New Plan's Holistic Approach to Mental Illness In Los Angeles
When Gov. Jerry Brown (D) eliminated the state Department of Mental Health earlier this year, some mental health advocates who championed Proposition 63 in 2004 -- the Mental Health Services Act -- wondered if promises would be kept to improve delivery of mental health services and treatment. "Since most planning and responsibility moved down to the counties, several efforts in the state have tried to bridge the space between where we are now and where we were a year ago," said James Preis, executive director of the not-for-profit Mental Health Advocacy Services in Los Angeles. Among those efforts is the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health's Innovations demonstration program, funded through Prop. 63's 1 percent tax on Californians with incomes higher than $1 million a year (Stephens, 10/29).