State Highlights: Minn. Health Plans Stockpile Nearly $2B In Cash

A selection of health policy stories from Minnesota, California, Georgia, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Minnesota Health Plans Pile Up Big Reserves
After four straight years of profitable growth, Minnesota's health plans have stockpiled a substantial surplus of cash reserves. The health insurance companies, which get nearly three-quarters of their business from state and federal programs, now have more than $1.9 billion in reserves -- $1.3 billion more than required by state law, according to a review by Twin Cities health care analyst Allan Baumgarten (Crosby, 7/15).

Healthy Cal: California Law Helps Undocumented Immigrants Get Health Care
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a federal policy that allows undocumented immigrants who entered the country at age 16 or younger to remain in the United States on a provisional status. ... But Administration officials also stressed that "DACA-mented" youths won't get federal health insurance benefits, including the extended coverage of the Affordable Care Act when it takes effect next year. That's the rule for most of the country. However in California, immigrants who qualify for DACA might get a break, thanks to a dispute between state officials and the federal government nearly two decades ago (Richard, 7/15).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Health Law Fosters A New Kind Of Business Partnership In Georgia
Now on Kaiser Health News' blog, WABE's Jim Burress, working in partnership with KHN and NPR, reports on a new health care partnership in Georgia: "Medical equipment manufacturers operate largely on a 'supply and demand' model: Hospitals buy their multi-million dollar machines, use them for a few years, and then the process starts again. But Philips Healthcare and a hospital system in Georgia are betting on a new business model, one that has risks and rewards for both the hospital and the manufacturer" (Burress, 7/16).

Georgia Health News: Two Major Issues Hang Over Community Health
Legislation to facilitate the renewal of the current provider fee was fast-tracked through the General Assembly earlier this year with the backing of Gov. Nathan Deal. Industry leaders had expected the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to approve the fee before the end of June -- the end of the state's fiscal year. That did not happen (Miller, 7/15).

WBUR/CommonHealth: What's Behind The Wait For Primary Care Physicians (Audio)
Other than your life partner, your primary care doctor may be the most important relationship you'll ever have. But unlike when you're searching for a significant other,  there's no match.com for health care. Information is tough to find and, when you finally do pick one, you can't just meet for a quick coffee to see if your interests align. In fact, you'll probably have to wait months for that very first appointment. Well, just how long Massachusetts residents are waiting for primary care -- and what it means for our health over all -- is outlined in a report released today on patient access to care from the Mass Medical Society (7/15).

The Philadelphia Inquirer: Patient Satisfaction Means Bonuses Or Penalties
Patients at Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Northeast Philadelphia get chauffeured trips to the hospital, often in a limousine. …These perks are part of the for-profit hospital's strategy to keep patients happy and avoid government penalties. In fact, the center enjoys patient satisfaction numbers among the best of any hospital in the region (Skinner, 7/14).

California Healthline: Legislature Responds To Critical UC Report
The state's five University of California medical centers -- California's fourth-largest health care delivery system -- are confronting what one state senator calls the most-pressing problem in the age of health reform: a health care provider deficit combined with capacity shortfalls. Legislators, partly in response to a union report criticizing UC health system management, are pressing university officials to respond to allegations that bloated executive pay and misdirected investments have led to bare-bones staffing levels that in some cases jeopardize patient safety (Hart, 7/15).

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