A selection of health policy news from New York, Texas, Vermont, New Mexico, California and Puerto Rico.
The Wall Street Journal: Budget Hole Seen After Loss Of Aid
New York state is drawing up plans for a budget shortfall almost twice as large as the $1.35 billion gap described by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday, as the federal government seeks to reduce how much it pays for health care to some of the state's most severely disabled people. Health care officials in Washington and New York are negotiating a plan that would squeeze between $800 million and $1.1 billion out of federal Medicaid spending, potentially blowing a new hole in the annual budget Mr. Cuomo proposed on Tuesday (Nahimias, 1/24).
The Texas Tribune: Bill Proposing Tax Break Targets Contraception Rule
A bill filed Thursday in the Texas House would give religiously based businesses, such as Hobby Lobby, a state tax break if the businesses were forced to comply with the federal government's mandate that employers provide contraception coverage. The contraception rule, part of federal health care reform, requires employment-based health insurance plans to cover contraception (Aaronson, 1/24).
The Associated Press: Vermont Gov Wants More Time On $1.6B Health Plan
After two years of pressure to say how it was going to pay for its single-payer health care plan, Gov. Peter Shumlin's administration on Thursday released a new accounting of what Vermont's universal health care system might cost, but left for later how it would be paid for. Reports released by the governor's office say Vermonters would have to pay $1.6 billion in new taxes to pay for their share of a single-payer system that can't be implemented until 2017 (Gram, 1/25).
ABC News: N.M. State Rep Takes Heat For Bill That Criminalizes Abortion In Cases Of Rape
New Mexico State Rep. Cathrynn Brown has come under attack for a bill she recently introduced that would brand survivors of rape and incest who become pregnant and chose to have abortions as felons. On Wednesday, Brown, a Republican from Carlsbad, submitted House bill 206, which equates a pregnancy resulting from rape or incest as evidence, meaning that terminating the pregnancy would constitute destruction of evidence."Tampering with evidence shall include procuring or facilitating an abortion, or compelling or coercing another to obtain an abortion of a fetus that is the result of criminal sexual penetration or incest with the intent to destroy evidence of the crime," the bill reads (Parnass, 1/24).
The Texas Tribune/New York Times: Despite Counsel, Victim Is Hindered By Tort Laws
When Connie Spears arrived at a Christus Santa Rosa hospital emergency room in 2010 with severe leg pain, she told medical staff members about her history of blood clots. Doctors sent her home with a far less serious diagnosis. Days later, swollen and delusional, Ms. Spears was taken by ambulance to another hospital where doctors found a severe clot and extensive tissue damage. With her life on the line, they amputated both of her legs above the knee. Nearly three years later, Ms. Spears contends that she is a victim not only of a medical mistake but also of Texas' tort reform laws (Aaronson, 1/24).
The New York Times: Judge Orders HCA To Pay $162 Million To Foundation
HCA, the nation's largest profit-making hospital chain, was ordered on Thursday to pay $162 million after a judge in Missouri ruled that it had failed to abide by an agreement to make improvements to dilapidated hospitals that it bought in the Kansas City area several years ago (Creswell, 1/24).
California Healthline: So Far, Healthy Families Transition Going Smoothly
Given the immense amount of worry and concern over the planned shift of 860,000 kids out of the Healthy Families program and into Medi-Cal managed care plans, there has been surprisingly little turmoil throughout the start of the first phase of that transition. Healthy Families is California's Children's Health Insurance Program, and Medi-Cal is the state's Medicaid program. "Phase 1 has gone extremely smoothly," said Jane Ogle, deputy director for the Department of Health Care Services. … The transition started Jan. 1, moving 197,000 children to Medi-Cal managed care plans. So far, according to DHCS officials, the telephone complaint hotline has been pretty quiet (Gorn, 1/24).
MPR News: Puerto Rican Provider Joins Mayo Network
A Puerto Rican medical and dental provider has joined the Mayo Clinic as the newest member of its care network. San Juan-based Clinica Salus is the first health system in the Caribbean to join Mayo's care network. It provides services to patients at locations in San Juan and around the island. Bob Brigham, chief administrative officer for Mayo Clinic's Florida campus, said under the new partnership, Salus physicians will have access to Mayo Clinic specialists and medical information closer to home. "Our physicians have networked with their physicians, historically. And we've referred patients back and forth, between the organizations for a number of years," Brigham said. "This is a chance to build and formalize on that relationship" (Baier, 1/24).