A selection of health policy stories from California, Connecticut, Louisiana, New Jersey, Florida and Pennsylvania.
Los Angeles Times: State Hires Consumer Group To Help It Review Health Care Rates
California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones lashed out Tuesday at another double-digit rate hike for thousands of small businesses getting their health insurance from industry giant Anthem Blue Cross (Terhune, 4/3).
CT Mirror: In Gun Bill, Boosts In Coverage For Mental Health, Substance Abuse
They're not as eye-catching as the expanded assault weapons ban or a new restriction on large-capacity magazines. But the bipartisan agreement legislative leaders crafted in response to the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School also includes changes to insurance laws agreed to by both health plans and patient advocates. And they say the provisions will reduce barriers to treatment for people with private coverage. The changes include requiring insurers to make faster decisions about whether certain urgent mental health and substance-abuse services will be covered, and making it easier for consumers to see what criteria carriers use in determining if care is covered (Becker, 4/2).
The Associated Press/Washington Post: Medicaid Contractor Objects To Cancellation, Says Nothing Improper Done to Get La. Contract
The company whose nearly $200 million Medicaid contract with the state has been cancelled says it didn't do anything improper to get the work, despite an ongoing federal investigation into the contract award (4/2).
Kaiser Health News: In South Jersey, New Options For Primary Care Are Slow To Take Hold
Camden, N.J., has serious health problems, with too many people going to local emergency rooms unnecessarily. But progress is being made, albeit slowly (English, 4/3).
Health News Florida: 'Bold' Plan Would Replace Lawsuits
Imagine a medical-malpractice system that resolves patients' complaints of harm quickly, without rancor or legal fees. Imagine a system that would encourage the injured patient and doctors to discuss the event to reduce the risk of future mistakes (Gentry, 4/2).
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: SEIU Sues Pa. To Block Merging Rural Health Centers
A state plan to close and consolidate rural health centers will hurt public health and leave under-served, uninsured or immigrant Pennsylvanians with fewer health care options, the union representing nurses at those centers alleges. … A lawsuit filed Monday in Commonwealth Court by SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania asks the court to halt the cuts. Several Democratic state legislators, including Sen. Tim Solobay, D-Canonsburg; Rep. Pam Snyder, D-Jefferson; and Rep. Ted Harhai, D-Westmoreland, also are plaintiffs in the suit (Giammarize, 4/3).
California Healthline: Spring Recess Gives Way To Spring Work
The California Legislature yesterday returned to work after a 10-day spring recess. A small mountain of bills is in front of lawmakers who have until May 31 to pass bills off the floor. Health care legislation up for discussion includes: Medi-Cal simplification. … Scope of practice expansion. … More [medical] interpreters. … Tax on soda. … Race evaluation (Gorn, 4/2).