A selection of health policy stories from Georgia, Virginia, California and Oregon.
Oregonian: Oregon's Home Health Care Industry Faces Major Federal Cuts; Access Cited
Home health care providers in Oregon and their allies say their industry is in a bind. The state's rural home health providers don't make as much as they should from serving Medicare patients, and the state's providers overall are slated for an even bigger hit next year, according to the industry's advocates and allies in Congress. Last week, Oregon's Congressional delegation signed a letter to Marilyn Tavenner, administrator of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, asking her to adjust the 2013 reimbursement rates for the state's rural home health providers, saying unusually low wages at one rural hospital in Coos Bay had unfairly brought down the wage index used to set federal reimbursement the entire state's rural home health sector -- amounting to a six percent cut (Budnick, 6/13).
Richmond Times Dispatch: Northern Virginia Clinic Sues To Challenge Abortion Rules
A Northern Virginia health clinic has filed the first legal challenge to new state Board of Health regulations governing Virginia's first-trimester abortion facilities. The Falls Church Healthcare Center filed the lawsuit this week in Arlington County Circuit Court against the regulations -- passed by the Board of Health in April -- which reclassified Virginia’s 19 clinics as new hospitals and subjected them retroactively to building standards for new hospital construction (Nolan, 6/14).
Georgia Health News: Schools, Agencies To Pay Higher Health Plan Rates
Georgia officials are raising the employer contribution rates for school districts and state agencies to cover employees in the State Health Benefit Plan. Those employees also may face premium increases for 2014, though their rates won’t be announced until later this summer. This year, teachers, other school personnel, state employees and retirees in the state's benefit plan had an average increase in their health insurance premiums of 9.5 percent. In recent years, the SHBP has shrunk a deficit of more than $800 million. Part of the reduction has come from charging school systems more to cover their non-certificate personnel -- administrative assistants, custodians, bus drivers, cafeteria workers and the like (Miller, 6/13).
Lund Report: Billing, Provider Issues Top List Of Oregon Health Plan Complaints
Billing issues, provider rudeness and access to primary care -- particularly for people living with chronic pain -- top the list of complaints that Oregon Health Plan patients have with providers and the plan itself, said Ellen Pinney, patient ombudsperson for the Oregon Health Authority, at last week's meeting of Health Share of Oregon's community advisory council. During her discussion with the coordinated care organization's advisory body, Pinney stressed the importance of looking at all the feedback the plan gets from patients -- not just the formal complaints (McCurdy, 6/13).
San Francisco Chronicle: Home Care Worker Can Sue County For Pay
In a case that could affect many low-paid home-care workers in California, the state Supreme Court has left intact a ruling allowing a caretaker to sue Sonoma County after her disabled client failed to pay her. The county had appealed a lower court ruling in February that allows a jury to decide whether a county social services agency was the worker's "co-employer" and therefore responsible for unpaid wages. Statewide organizations of county governments and the state of California joined Sonoma in asking the court to review the case. The court unanimously denied review on Wednesday (Egelko, 6/13).
California Healthline: Yamada Takes A Lonely Stand On ADHC Bill
The Senate Committee on Health yesterday rejected a bill designed to perpetuate adult day health care services in one of the strangest votes in recent memory. The legislators on the committee voiced strong support for the bill and said they wanted to vote for it, but bill author Assembly member Mariko Yamada (D-Davis) adamantly refused to consider an amendment removing a restriction on for-profit adult day health businesses. After a long and awkward discussion of personal philosophy, the committee rejected the bill. It failed to garner a single vote. In fact, no actual vote was taken on AB 518 because no legislator would even move the bill (Gorn, 6/13).