State Highlights: Mental Health Contract Raised Costs In La., Audit Says

A selection of health policy stories from California, Louisiana and the District of Columbia.

California Healthline: State Outlines Plan To Transition Low-Income Health Program To Medi-Cal
State officials last week said more than 90 percent of Low Income Health Program enrollees will be able to keep their primary care physician when LIHP is folded into the Medi-Cal expansion in 2014. Brian Hansen, health reform advisor in the director's office at the Department of Health Care Services, made the prediction as one of about a dozen state agency experts who spoke Thursday at a conference in Sacramento, "At the Forefront: LIHP Transition Prepares California for Health Reform," put on by DHCS and the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. "Over 90 percent of enrollees will be assigned to their current LIHP primary care provider. We will do that to the extent that it's possible," Hansen said (Gorn, 8/19).

The Associated Press: Audit: Mental Health Contract Raised Local Costs
Gov. Bobby Jindal's hiring of a private company to manage mental health and addictive disorder treatment services has created confusion and added costs for the local human services districts that provide the care, says an audit released Monday (Deslatte, 8/19).

The New York Times: Suicides Worry Experts At Big Jail In Capital
The four suicides in less than a year are a record for the 1,800-inmate detention facility, which has experienced eight suicides over all in the past decade. The increase, which mirrors a rise in suicides over the last 10 years in jails across the country, has mental health experts concerned about what they say is a lack of supervision. The deaths have also raised questions about the mental health provider at the jail, which is on the edge of Capitol Hill and only a few miles from the White House (Banco, 8/19).

Medpage Today: Groups Push To Keep State-Based Quality Improvement Organizations
Several national provider organizations and nearly all state medical societies have asked the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) not to make any changes to the current quality improvement organization (QIO) contracting process. The groups said moving to a regional or national system -- rather than keeping the current state-based arrangement -- could harm the QIOs' relationships with providers and diminish their impact (Pittman, 8/19).

California Healthline: Supreme Court Decision On Insulin Injection Shapes The State’s Use Of School Nurses
The California Supreme Court's unanimous decision last week that public schools have a right to allow unlicensed -- but trained -- school personnel to administer prescription medication to children was fueled partly by necessity. There's a dearth of school-based nurses in California to administer insulin to children. As diabetes and obesity among children have risen, the number of school nurses in California has decreased. That's where the discussion turns into a chicken-or-egg debate. Nursing advocates say the problem isn't a lack of nurses but a lack of state funding for nursing positions. They say the shortage was created by the state's layoffs and non-replacement of school nursing jobs over the past two decades (Gorn, 8/19).

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