State Roundup: Health Costs Could Undermine State Budget Recoveries

A selection of health policy stories from California, Virginia, Nevada, Missouri, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Reuters: Health Care Costs To Negate State, Local Budget Improvements: Outlook
State and local governments can expect ever-widening budget gaps through 2060, as rising health care costs for both citizens and public employees surpass recent improvements in their revenue, the Government Accountability Office said on Monday. Closing the gap may require drastic action (4/29).

Kaiser Health News: California Moves To Protect Smokers From Higher Obamacare Insurance Costs
The federal health law allows states to charge smokers up to 50 percent more for a health plan -- but legislation is moving forward in the California legislature that will make sure that doesn't happen. And unlike other efforts around the country to alter the law, this is one coming from a Democrat (O’Neill, 4/30). 

The Associated Press: Lawmakers Approve Health Insurance Protections
State lawmakers sent Gov. Jerry Brown a pair of consumer protection bills Monday that prevent health insurance companies from discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions and limit how much more insurers can charge older residents. The legislation updates California laws to match new rules under the federal Affordable Care Act and will give state agencies the power to enforce and regulate individual insurance rules (Lin, 4/29).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Former Owner Of Texas Student Health Insurance Company Set For Arraignment In Va.
The former owner of a Texas company that provided health insurance to Virginia Tech students is due in federal court for arraignment on charges of racketeering, conspiracy, money laundering and fraud. A 57-count federal indictment accuses 73-year-old John Paul Gutschlag Sr. and GM-Southwest Inc. of overstating claims by more than $9 million to boost profits (4/30).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Nev. Governor: People Who Violated Psych Hospital Policies Fired Amid Alleged Patient Dumping
Two staff members who violated discharge policies at a Las Vegas psychiatric hospital were fired Monday and three others are being disciplined following an investigation into busing patients to other states, the governor's office and agency officials said Monday (4/29).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Bankruptcy Hearing Under Way On Coal Company's Bid To Cut Pension, Health Benefits For Workers
A long-awaited bankruptcy hearing began Monday in which a St. Louis-based coal company insists it must significantly cut thousands of retirees' health care and pension benefits or risk liquidation -- a claim that its miners union strongly rejects (4/29).

MPR News: State Updates Vaccination Requirements For Schoolkids
State health officials are planning to add new vaccination requirements for children in school and day care. The proposed rule change would mean vaccinations against hepatitis A and B for kids in child care and early childhood programs, as well as immunizations against pertussis and meningococcal infections for seventh graders. The vaccinations are part of national recommendations, state epidemiologist Kris Ehresmann said (Sepic, 4/29).

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Safety Net Clinics Try A High-Tech New Model
The waiting room at Cedar Riverside Clinic was packed with patients and translators one recent morning and buzzing with multiple languages. To Julie Tate, waiting to see her doctor, it was a familiar sight. "I used to go to the emergency room" for medical care, Tate said. But now, after 14 years as a patient at the Minneapolis clinic, she knows her doctor personally -- and much of the staff as well. ... That's exactly the sort of bond that state health officials hope to build on as they embark on an experiment between community clinics like Tate's and the state of Minnesota to reform medical care for thousands of underprivileged patients (Hargarten, 4/29).

California Healthline: Money To Be Made, Saved With Biosimilars?
A heated fight has developed over legislation to regulate a biotech development that hasn't yet hit the U.S. market. On Wednesday, the state  Senate Committee on Health will take up the topic of biosimilars and the  surprisingly robust debate they've sparked. … The proposed legislation before the Senate Committee on Health this week is SB 598 by Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo). It would allow a pharmacist to substitute a less-expensive biosimilar for a biologic, in some cases, and require that pharmacist to notify the prescribing physician of the change. It's the notification requirement that has caused all the uproar, because pharmacists are not currently required to notify physicians when switching to generic medications (Gorn, 4/29).

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. The full summary of the day's news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.