A selection of health policy stories from Texas, Florida, California, Virginia and Oregon.
The Texas Tribune/New York Times: Insurance Chief Answers Industry Bias Charges
She has been at the center of at least three public firestorms -- for removing consumer protections in health insurance rules approved by her predecessor, for attending a campaign fund-raiser held by an insurance company and for suggesting that the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association raise premium rates (Aaronson, 9/6).
The Associated Press: Hospitals Clash over Rules For New Trauma Centers
The administration of Gov. Rick Scott and one of the nation's largest health care companies clashed Thursday in a legal showdown with several of the state's not-for-profit hospitals. The two sides are battling over how the state approves new trauma centers, which are set up by hospitals to handle severe emergencies, such as car crashes. The final decision could have ripple effects for the state's health care industry (9/6).
Health News Florida: WellCare To Buy Medicare HMO In California
Tampa-based WellCare Health Plans announced today that it will buy a small but fast-growing Medicare HMO in southern California. Easy Choice Health Plan, based in Long Beach, has about 34,000 total members in four counties: Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino. But it recently won federal permission to expand to 11 counties next year, including the San Diego market, according to the company's press release (Gentry, 9/6).
California Healthline: $4.6 Million Grant For Consumer Assistance
The Department of Managed Health Care recently received a $4.6 million federal grant to fund its consumer assistance program to help answer questions from California consumers about health coverage. "This will enable us to reach and assist more Californians who are struggling with health coverage questions," said Marta Green, deputy director for communications and planning at DMHC (Gorn, 9/7).
California Healthline: Primary Care Direct Model: 'Neither Insurance Nor Health Plan'
A new model of health care delivery -- direct primary care -- could be déjà vu for some Californians, a retreat to the past when insurance wasn't a part of the health care equation. Direct primary care emphasizes prevention and a reduction in the use of "downstream services" -- treating symptoms rather than the problems themselves. The new approach involves monthly payments for primary care -- similar to the way insurance covers health care, but without the insurance. Instead of filing claims through an insurer, participants -- individuals and employers -- pay a monthly membership fee directly to their health care providers (Edlin, 9/6).
Associated Press/Richmond Times-Dispatch: Abortion Clinic Regulations Heading Back Before Va. Board
Activists on both sides of the abortion issue are rallying their troops for a Virginia Board of Health meeting next week. The board will meet Sept. 14 for another vote on abortion clinic regulations. The board approved the regulations in June, but Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli refused to certify them. He said the board overstepped its authority when it stripped a provision requiring all clinics to meet the same strict architectural standards as newly constructed hospitals (9/7).
Miami Herald: Public Assistance? Return To Sender
The Florida Department of Children and Families has approved a change that would end public-assistance benefits for people who don’t report new addresses, drawing concerns that some low-income residents could unnecessarily lose food and medical aid. ... DCF spokesman Joe Follick said Thursday the change would apply to a small percentage of people who continue to receive correspondence by mail instead of online. He said it is designed to help curb fraud, such as people moving to another state and continuing to receive benefits from Florida (Saunders, 9/7).
The Lund Report: Oregon's New Health CO-OP Promises Lowest Administrative Costs
A consumer-driven insurance plan is gathering momentum in Oregon. Not only will people have a chance to help design this new plan, they can also have a seat on its governing board. ... [The Co-Op's CEO] is holding a series of sharing sessions around the state, where consumers and business leaders can make suggestions about the benefit structure of this new health plan (Lund-Muzikant, 9/6).