A selection of health policy stories from Montana, New York, Oregon, California, South Carolina and Wisconsin.
NPR: Montana's State-Run Free Clinic Sees Early Success
A year ago, Montana opened the nation's first clinic for free primary health care services to its state government employees. The Helena, Mont., clinic was pitched as a way to improve overall employee health, but the idea has faced its fair share of political opposition. A year later, the state says the clinic is already saving money (Boyce, 7/30).
The New York Times: Program Compelling Outpatient Treatment For Mental Illness Is Working, Study Says
For some people with severe mental illness, life is a cycle of hospitalization, skipped medication, decline and then rehospitalization. They may deny they have psychiatric disorders, refuse treatment and cascade into out-of-control behavior that can be threatening to themselves or others. Now, a study has found that a controversial program that orders these patients to receive treatment when they are not hospitalized has had positive results (Belluck, 7/30).
The Lund Report: Insurance Division Knocks Off $69 Million In Rate Review
The Oregon Insurance Division reduced insurance rates in the individual and small group markets by $69 million for 2014, but significant savings continued to be lost, as some insurers ignored slowing medical inflation and failed to factor reductions in uncompensated care as fewer people go without insurance under the Affordable Care Act. An Oregon State Public Interest Research Group report released last week showed the Insurance Division cut more than half of the waste, $38 million, from just two of the state’s major insurance carriers -- Kaiser Permanente and Providence Health Plan (Gray, 7/29).
Los Angeles Times: L.A. Seniors Confident About Aging, Yet Many Don't Manage Health
Ninety percent of Los Angeles seniors are confident they will keep up the quality of their lives as they age, a new survey shows. Yet experts warn that only a fraction are taking steps to manage their health. For many seniors battling chronic conditions such as diabetes and arthritis, "they're gliding toward a very distressing future," said Richard Birkel, senior vice president for health at the National Council on Aging, which helped conduct the survey. If seniors don't take action, "they will see their world begin to shrink" (Alpert, 7/29).
Modern Healthcare: Molina Adds S.C. To Its Medicaid Managed-Care Portfolio
Molina Healthcare is entering the South Carolina Medicaid managed-care market by acquiring the medical-home membership in the state from Community Health Solutions of America -- assuming the state phases out its medical homes program and transfers those enrollees into full-risk managed care. St. Petersburg, Fla.-based Community Health Solutions' South Carolina Solutions, which serves about 150,000 Medicaid enrollees, is one of three medical-home networks doing business with the state's Medicaid program (7/29).
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Wisconsin A Model For Country, Scott Walker Says
Detroit would not be bankrupt and Chicago public schools would be flourishing if those cities operated under Wisconsin's public union laws, Gov. Scott Walker said Monday in what amounted to a national stump speech -- and came days before he hosts the National Governors Association conference in Milwaukee. ... Walker said Wisconsin was able to turn a $3 billion deficit at the time he took office into a $75 million surplus as of June 30 by passing legislation that repealed most collective bargaining for most public employees. In addition, the law required most public employees to pay more for their pension and health care benefits (Stanley-Becker, 7/29).
California Watch: Lax Oversight Leaves California Drug Rehab Funds Vulnerable To Fraud
Next to a smoke shop deep in the San Fernando Valley, employees at Able Family Support pull back the metal gates and open the doors to catch an unfettered flow of government money. The clinic, reimbursed by taxpayers for each client it sees, offers in-person drug and alcohol counseling (Jewett and Evans, 7/29).
California Healthline: State Has Paid More Than $1 Million In Penalties For Late Hearings; Total Will Rise
The Department of Health Care Services has sent more than $1 million in penalty checks to some beneficiaries in the Community Based Adult Services program due to long delays in appeal hearings over beneficiaries' eligibility status, according to DHCS officials. About $1.2 million in penalties has been paid to 486 appellants and there are another 670 checks waiting in the queue. … The state has 90 days to process fair hearings for CBAS eligibility appeals. If the ruling finds the appellant eligible for the program, the state must pay $100 a day for each day past the 90-day limit (Gorn, 7/29).