State Highlights: Minn. Health Spending Growth Slows

A selection of health policy stories from Texas, Minnesota, California and Florida.

The Texas Tribune/New York Times: Claims Drop Under State-Run Women’s Health Program in Texas
To stop Planned Parenthood clinics from receiving public financing, Texas’ Republican leaders gambled that the state could operate a contraception and cancer-screening program for low-income women without tens of millions of federal dollars. But with the exclusion of about 40 Planned Parenthood clinics -- none of which performed abortions -- from the Texas Women’s Health Program in 2013, records showed that claims for birth control and wellness exams dropped, as did enrollment numbers (Aaronson, 12/12).

Minnesota Public Radio: Minn. Health Care Spending Grew At Slower Rate In Recent Years
A Minnesota Department of Health study finds health care spending in the state continued at a slow 2 percent growth rate from 2010 to 2011. That compares to an annual average pace of growth over the past decade of about 6 percent. The state's health care spending [growth] rate was half the nation's rate of nearly 4 percent in 2011 (Stawicki, 12/12). 

Los Angeles Times: Doctor Pleads Guilty To Fraud Scheme With Homeless 'Patients'
A doctor who conducted unnecessary procedures on mostly homeless patients and billed Medicare and Medi-Cal pleaded guilty Thursday to filing a false tax return and participating in the $1.55-million scheme, authorities said. From 2008 to 2012, Dr. Ovid Mercene, 61, admitted patients, most of them homeless, to a Los Angeles-area hospital for treatment they did not need with the purpose of defrauding taxpayer-funded health programs, according to the U.S. Attorney's office (Barragan, 12/12). 

California Healthline: Budget Blueprint Draws Quick Praise
A blueprint of priorities for the 2014-2015 California budget released by Assembly Democrats Wednesday drew quick praise for its efforts to address child poverty and public health. ... The Democrats' goals include restoring some cuts in Medi-Cal reimbursements and restoring such programs as the Early Mental Health Initiative, Asthma Public Health Initiative and Black Infant Health (Norberg, 12/12).

Health News Florida: FMA Protests Doctor-Dropping
The Florida Medical Association is backing a Connecticut lawsuit challenging UnitedHealthcare's decision to cancel Medicare Advantage contracts. The Association filed a brief late Wednesday supporting the Connecticut State Medical Society's attempt to block the insurance carrier from tearing up thousands of physician contracts (Shedden and Gentry, 12/12).

Related KHN coverage: UnitedHealthcare Dropping Hundreds Of Doctors From Medicare Advantage Plans (Jaffe, 12/1).

Georgia Health News: Poll: Many Georgians Nervous About ACA
Three in four Georgians say they're satisfied with the overall value of their health care, according to a new poll released Thursday. But Georgians show concerns about the effects of the Affordable Care Act, said the poll of 400 residents, released by Healthcare Georgia Foundation. Nearly half of respondents -- 47 percent -- expect the ACA will result in their paying more for health care, with just 11 percent saying they believe they will pay less (Miller, 12/12). 

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from more than 300 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.