State Highlights: Del. Caps Co-Pays For Some Prescription Drugs

A selection of health policy stories from Delaware, Virginia, California, New York, Washington, North Carolina and Kansas.

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Delaware Governor Signs Bill Capping Co-Pays For Specialty Prescription Drugs
Gov. Jack Markell is signing legislation that caps co-pays for prescription drugs used to treat certain complex and chronic health problems. The legislation to be signed Monday limits patients’ co-insurance or co-payment fees for certain prescription drugs to $150 per month for up to a 30-day supply (7/22).

The Washington Post: Cuccinelli, McAuliffe Spar At Va. Gubernatorial Debate
After months of assailing each other’s integrity from afar and by proxy, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II and businessman Terry McAuliffe traded direct attacks on stage Saturday in the opening debate of their heated race for Virginia governor. ... Cuccinelli reiterated his opposition to President Obama's health care plan, but he also criticized Obama for not following his own law by postponing the legislation's employer mandate for one year. McAuliffe, meanwhile, made clear that he still supports the law and stressed that he thinks Virginia should accept the measure's invitation to expand the state's Medicaid program, which Cuccinelli opposes (Pershing and Vozzella, 7/20).

Los Angeles Times: Health Centers Vary Widely In Quality Of Medical Management
California's community health centers -- a key resource for people without medical insurance -- vary widely in their ability to control their patients' chronic diseases, including diabetes and high blood pressure, according to federal data (Gorman, 7/21).

The New York Times: Legal Battles Continue As Hospital In Brooklyn Nears Closing Date
As Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn edged closer to shutting its emergency room and transferring its few remaining patients to other hospitals, those who want to close the hospital and those fighting to keep it open skirmished over the weekend in a flurry of legal maneuvers and bitter accusations (Yee and Vadukul, 7/21).

Los Angeles Times: 16 Medi-Cal Substance Abuse Treatment Centers Are Under Investigation
Sixteen drug and alcohol treatment centers that provide rehabilitative services to Medi-Cal patients are suspected of fraud and of hiring providers with felonies on their records, officials from the California Department of Health Care Services announced this week (Kumeh, 7/19).

Bloomberg: Patients ID'd From Hospital Records Trigger State Reviews
Some U.S. states are reviewing their policies around the collection and sale of health information to ensure that some patients can't be identified in publicly available databases of hospital records. Washington suspended distribution of the information and developed a confidentiality agreement that all buyers must now sign, according to Donn Moyer, a spokesman for the state’s Department of Health (Robertson, 7/22).

Healthy Cal: Should I Stay Or Should I Go Now? Glittering Laguna Honda Hospital Helps San Francisco’s Aging, Underserved
Below Twin Peaks' epic views of San Francisco rests a city health icon dating back to the Gold Rush era that today offers high-tech health services for underserved San Franciscans in a glittering facility brimming with art, light and individualized care. The dazzling Laguna Honda Hospital and Rehabilitation Center has proved so inviting after its three-building expansion in 2010 -- with spacious hallways, sun-drenched rooms, and sophisticated technology -- it has visitors gaping in jaw-dropping admiration (Perry, 7/21).

North Carolina Health News: Frustrations Mount Over NCTracks System
After two weeks of frustrating phone calls, an estimated 20 hours on hold and error messages telling her she had submitted her claims incorrectly, Kathy Tobias got in her car and drove from Sanford to Raleigh. Her mission: to get to the bottom of why the health care company she works for wasn't being paid by NCTracks, the new Medicaid computer system that rolled out July 1 (Hoban, 7/22).

Kansas Health Institute: KDHE Begins Day-To-Day Duties Of HIE Regulation
The day-to-day duties of regulating network-based, digital exchange of patient information in Kansas were fully passed off to the state this week, and the previous regulatory body -- the Kansas Health Information Exchange, Inc. -- has been officially dissolved. Officials at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment said the state on Thursday began processing so-called "opt outs" -- requests by patients to exclude their information from the statewide health information exchange (Cauthon, 7/19).

California Healthline: More Healthy Families Feedback Sought
The state has had difficulty getting input from families involved in this year's transition of 860,000 Healthy Families beneficiaries into Medi-Cal managed care plans. Only 11 percent of those contacted in the most recent survey responded to the state's questions, officials reported Wednesday. Results of a beneficiary survey were released at the monthly meeting of the Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board, which oversees Healthy Families. State officials called 5,000 Healthy Families households to ask about the transition. Only 568 of them -- about 11 percent -- responded (Hart, 7/19).

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