State Roundup: Ga. Officials End Medicaid Electronic Eligibility System Talks

A selection of health policy news from Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Kansas, Minnesota and California.

Reuters: Judge Overturns Arizona Law Barring Planned Parenthood Funding
A federal judge has overturned an Arizona law that sought to block funding through the state for Planned Parenthood's health care clinics because the group also performs abortions. U.S. District Court Judge Neil Wake ruled that the controversial measure signed into law last May by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, a Republican, unlawfully robs individuals on Medicaid of the ability to choose health care services (Schwartz, 2/11).

Arizona Republic: Judge Sides With Planned Parenthood In Suit Vs. Arizona
A U.S. District Court judge has ruled that a 2012 Arizona law restricting funding to abortion providers is unconstitutional, in a case that is headed for the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Neil Wake issued an order Friday in the Planned Parenthood lawsuit challenging House Bill 2800, which prohibits any health care provider that performs abortions from getting Medicaid funding, even for non-abortion related care. Wake had already issued a temporary order, preventing the law from going into effect as scheduled in August. Wake ruled the law violates the federal Medicaid Act, which allows eligible individuals to seek medical care from "any institution, agency, community pharmacy, or person, qualified to perform the service" (Rau, 2/11).

Georgia Health News: Talks Break Down On Mega-Contract For Medicaid
State officials have halted negotiations on a multimillion-dollar contract for a new electronic eligibility system for Medicaid and other health programs. The state canceled its request for proposal (RFP) last week after months of negotiating with the highest-scored vendor, which industry officials identified as Deloitte. Now seemingly back at Square One, the Department of Community Health says it will do much of the work to set up a new eligibility process on its own (Miller, 2/11).

The Associated Press: Florida Enhances Program For Disabled Children
Florida health officials said Monday they will assign care coordinators to about 1,600 children with disabilities amid allegations from federal health officials that the state was cutting in-home services and essentially forcing kids into adult nursing homes. An individual care coordinator will work with no more than 40 disabled children at a time who are receiving in-home nursing services and ensure they have continued access to those services (Kennedy, 2/11).

Kansas Health Institute: KanCare Pilot Project Launched But Opposition To DD "Carve-In" Persists
After months of advisory committee haggling over what it should look like, state officials say they are ready to launch the pilot program that will pave the way for including long-term services for the developmentally disabled in the new KanCare program. Now, all they need to start the pilot are participants (Shields, 2/11).

Kansas Health Institute: Bill Introduced To Prohibit Health Departments From Seeking Accreditation
A bill to prohibit county health departments from seeking accreditation has been introduced by Sen. Michael O'Donnell, a Wichita Republican. At least 12 Kansas health departments have been working for months on becoming nationally accredited and it wasn't immediately clear why O'Donnell, a freshman, would seek to slow or impede the process (Cauthon, 2/11).

Georgia Health News: 'Pill Mill' Ban Clears House Committee
A bill intended to crack down on "pill mills" in Georgia passed a key House committee unanimously Monday, after stirring testimony from a northwest Georgia coroner and a suburban Atlanta police chief. House Bill 178 would put pain management clinics under the regulation of Georgia's medical board, which would issue licenses to their operators. And after June 30, any new pain clinic would have to be physician-owned -- a requirement similar to other states' laws (Miller, 2/11).

Journal Sentinel/Minneapolis Star Tribune: Community Paramedics Aim To Cut Emergencies
As a paramedic, Peter Carlson is used to racing to people's homes. But on his way to see 86-year-old Erika Bruvelis recently, he stopped for coffee and parked outside her Minneapolis house for several minutes -- reluctant to arrive too early. In this case, no one had called 911, and with any luck, no one would go to the hospital. Carlson, 28, is one in the first wave of "community paramedics" in Minnesota and the nation. Instead of responding to emergencies, his job is to try to prevent them. Since October, Carlson has been paying house calls on dozens of patients as part of an innovative program to keep the frail and elderly out of the emergency room. Depending on what they need, he might do a blood test, call Meals on Wheels or help arrange for a wheelchair ramp. Over Christmas, he even baked cookies for one of his patients (Lerner, 2/11).

Arizona Republic: Arizona Democrats Unveil Budget Similar To Brewer's
House Democrats on Monday unveiled a $9 billion state budget that has striking parallels to Republican Gov. Jan Brewer's proposal, but adds more spending for education, school safety and social-welfare programs. It’s the second year in a row Democrats have compiled a detailed spending plan for the state in their bid to get a seat at the negotiating table when Republicans, who hold the majority at the Legislature, meet with Brewer to reach a consensus on the budget. … The Democrats estimate the state could gain an extra $109 million next year by, among other things, ending the sales-tax exemption on warranties and country-club and health-club memberships, and by dropping the school-tuition tax credit, which diverts state income tax to private-school tuition. The Democrats, like Brewer, back full expansion of the state's Medicaid program (Pitzl, 2/11).

California Healthline: Preventive Dentistry Plan Shows Results
The dental outreach plan for the 860,000 California children in the Healthy Families program has shown strong results, including across-the-board improvement in health plans' prevention efforts, according to officials from the Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board, which oversees the program. "Every one of our health plans showed improvement in terms of prevention," said Janette Casillas, MRMIB's executive director. "That means improvement in the number of oral exams, and in prevention efforts such as using sealant."

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.