A selection of health policy news from New York, Michigan, California, Minnesota and Massachusetts.
The Wall Street Journal: GOP Pledges Medicaid Probe
New York state Senate Republicans plan to investigate the state's Medicaid program after news reports and a congressional audit alleged it was fraught with waste and mismanagement (Nahmias, 2/22).
The Associated Press: Blue Cross Changes OK'd Without Abortion Provision
A House panel has overwhelmingly approved legislation to overhaul Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, leaving out anti-abortion provisions that torpedoed an earlier effort to change the status of the state's largest health insurer. The 11-0 votes signaled -- at least for now -- that one of Republican Gov. Rick Snyder's top legislative priorities could reach his desk without language that led him to veto similar legislation in late December. The Senate OK'd the new Blue Cross bills in late January (Eggert, 2/25).
San Francisco Chronicle: Long-Term Care Rate Hike Stuns Retirees
When Marie Benedetto opened her mail last week and learned her long-term care premium was going up a stunning 85 percent, she did what a retired math teacher would do. She made a spreadsheet. Benedetto calculated she'd have to spend $1,328 a month or $15,936 a year for the policy after the increase goes into effect. That added up to a 415 percent increase in premiums since she first purchased the policy in 1997. For Benedetto, the rate increase makes her policy unaffordable. … The state pension fund's board decided in October to increase rates for the policies, which help pay for nursing-home care, home health care and other expenses not covered by Medicare (Colliver, 2/24).
Sacramento Bee: Q&A: Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada Looks At Long-Term Care Insurance
Long-term care doesn't come cheap – up to $72,000 a year in California nursing homes, a steep price tag that will provide sticker shock for the more than 70 percent of people age 65 and older who will require care at some point as they grow older. So it's not surprising that long-term care insurance was a hot, if costly, topic even before the California Public Employees' Retirement System last week announced an 85 percent rate hike at the top tier for its current policy holders. Supporters of better care see the current debate as an opportunity to reverse long-time budget cuts across the country (Creamer, 2/25).
MPR News: Mayo, A Financial Powerhouse, Is Poised To Propel Expansion
Mayo Clinic wants to invest billions of dollars of its own money in a project aimed at bolstering the medical center's position as a world destination for health care. The clinic is now trying to line up state subsidies and private investors to round out financing for what would be a grand expansion. But does Mayo itself have the money needed to pull off such a huge project? ... From 2009 to 2011, Mayo received about $900 million in gifts and pledges (Moylan, 2/25).
Boston Globe: UMass Boston A New Resource For Health Care Firms
The University of Massachusetts Boston is playing host to the latest entrant in a growing field of entrepreneurs helping others create cutting-edge health care businesses in the area. The university's Venture Development Center has teamed up with MD Idea Lab to establish a new entrepreneurial resource that resembles a business incubator within an incubator -- specifically targeting early-stage firms that are developing information technology products for health care. MD Idea Lab was founded by a tech-savvy physician and a partner with experience in helping businesses get off the ground (Fitzgerald, 2/25).
California Healthline: Officials Dispute Suggestion Of 'Wrong' Estimate
Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board officials last week bristled at the suggestion that MRMIB somehow made a bad estimate of its budget that resulted in a $116 million general fund shortfall in the Healthy Families program. With an additional $216 million in federal money that hasn't come to California because of the shortfall, the total deficit now amounts to $332 million, according to MRMIB executive director Janette Casillas (Gorn, 2/25).