A selection of health policy stories from Georgia, California, New York, Texas, Kansas and Massachusetts.
Georgia Health News: Hospital Fee Bill Clears Another Big Hurdle
After a series of friendly questions and statements of support, the fast-tracked legislation on a state hospital provider fee swept through a House committee Tuesday. The House Government Affairs Committee, by a 15-1 vote, approved Senate Bill 24, which would facilitate the renewal of the assessment. The state Senate passed the bill earlier this month. The legislation could reach the House floor Thursday or Friday. If it passes, it then would go to Gov. Nathan Deal for his signature -- an unusually rapid journey into law (Miller, 1/29).
California Healthline: Managed Care Tax Key In Healthy Families Shortfall
The Healthy Families program is short by almost $100 million, according to California health officials. That number will rise, officials said, because the current deficit only covers the program's operation for January and half of December. The problem is restricted to this year, however, since the roughly 860,000 children in Healthy Families -- California's federally subsidized Children's Health Insurance Program -- are being moved into Medi-Cal managed care plans. This year's transition is planned in four phases. The first phase began Jan. 1 (Gorn, 1/29).
The Associated Press/Wall Street Journal: Cuomo's Abortion Proposal Faces Senate Roadblock
New York's Senate Republicans who can block legislation are slamming Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposal to expand abortion rights as an extreme measure from the radical left (1/29).
Los Angeles Times: Report: Kaiser Tops State Health Insurance Market With 40% Share
Nonprofit health care giant Kaiser Permanente had a 40 percent share of California's $59-billion health insurance market for employers and individuals, new data show. A report issued this week by Citigroup analyst Carl McDonald compiled nationwide data on 2011 premiums and enrollment among large and small employers and individuals buying their own policies (Terhune, 1/29).
The Texas Tribune: State Posts Revised List Of Women's Health Providers
A revised list of Texas Women's Health Program providers -- with 965 fewer doctors and clinics -- has returned to the state's website. The Health and Human Services Commission removed the list earlier this month after lawmakers and women’s health advocates challenged its accuracy (Aaronson, 1/29).
California Healthline: Packard Issue Brief Analyzes Healthy Families Transition
The state needs to be extremely careful with the children being phased out of the Healthy Families program because they're in danger of losing access to care and services if that transition doesn't go smoothly, according to a new issue brief from the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health, based in Palo Alto. The issue brief follows on the heels of last week's release of a study on the level of care and services provided to children with chronic illnesses, a study which ranked California near the bottom of the nation in several categories, including access to pediatric specialists. The two issues -- care of chronically ill children and implementation of the Healthy Families transition -- are inextricably linked, said Edward Schor, senior vice president of programs and partnerships for the Packard Foundation (Gorn, 1/30).
Los Angeles Times: California's New Prisons Chief Was Once Critic Of System
Jeffrey Beard's expert testimony was cited 39 times in the federal court order that capped California's prison population in 2009. He said the state's prisons were severely overcrowded, unsafe and unable to deliver adequate care to inmates. At the time, he was Pennsylvania's prisons chief. Now, he's Gov. Jerry Brown's new corrections secretary, and his first order of business is to persuade the same judges to lift the cap, as well as to end the court's longtime hold on prison mental health care (St. John, 1/30).
Georgia Health News: Legislators Look At Plan To Fight Alzheimer's
Nancy Humberstone fought an eight-year battle with Alzheimer's disease before passing away last year. She was just 65 years old when she died. Humberstone, of Gainesville, was an Emory University professor of physical therapy. But the disease, as it slowly took its toll on her brain, made her unable to figure out how to check her cellphone messages, said her daughter Sheila, who became her mother's caregiver. "It was extraordinarily difficult,"’ Sheila Humberstone said. "By the end, I was showering her, changing her diapers."’ Humberstone was among people testifying Tuesday before a Senate committee considering legislation to create a task force for developing a state response plan on Alzheimer's disease (Miller, 1/29).
Kansas Health Institute: Bill To License Mid-Level Dental Providers Introduced
A bill that would authorize the licensure of mid-level dental providers in Kansas was introduced today in the House Health and Human Services Committee. Rep. Brian Weber, a Dodge City Republican, said registering mid-level technicians was among the proposals he'd found when searching for solutions to the dental provider shortage in Kansas (Cauthon, 1/29).
Boston Globe: State Rep. Martha Walz To Lead Planned Parenthood
After four terms serving as the representative for the Eighth Suffolk District, Martha "Marty" Walz will announce Wednesday that she is resigning her legislative seat to become chief executive officer of the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, said a person with direct knowledge of the group's decision. Walz, 51, was chosen over Dr. JudyAnn Bigby, who recently served as health and human services secretary for Governor Deval Patrick’s administration, said the source, who requested anonymity (Anderson and Phillips, 1/30).
Los Angeles Times: Former L.A. Clinic Owner Makes Medicare's Most-Wanted List
A former clinic owner in the Los Angeles area has made Medicare's list of most-wanted fugitives after bilking the federal program for $1.2 million, authorities said (Terhune, 1/29).