A selection of health policy stories from California, Minnesota, Illinois and Oregon.
The Wall Street Journal: States Ease Use Of Life Policies For Elder Care
State lawmakers are encouraging elderly residents to use life insurance as a way to pay for long-term care -- and lower the Medicaid tab in the process. The strategy marks a tacit endorsement of so-called life settlements, a practice in which policyholders sell their policies at a discount in the secondary market and the buyer takes over premiums and consequently collects the death benefit (Greene, 6/16).
Los Angeles Times: California Lawmakers Finalize $96.3 Billion Budget
California lawmakers wrapped up their work on the state budget on Saturday, approving bills detailing plans for university tuition assistance, energy efficiency projects and the expansion of health care programs. The Legislature also renewed a $500 million tax on managed care plans, which was allowed to lapse last year, and approved a framework for boosting welfare grants in the coming years (Megerian, 6/15).
Los Angeles Times: S.F. Grudgingly Backs Kaiser Rate Hike For Public Workers
Officials who oversee the health care plans that cover San Francisco public employees this week excoriated Kaiser executives for failing to adequately explain a proposed rate increase but ultimately voted to back it. The city's public workers have seen their health care costs spiral while they have accepted pay cuts and furlough days at the bargaining table. In an unusual move, labor unions teamed up with San Francisco's Health Service System earlier this year to demand greater transparency from Kaiser (Romney, 6/14).
MPR News: Mayo Med School Receives $1M Grant In AMA Training Initiative
Mayo Medical School is one of 11 medical schools across the country to each receive a $1 million grant from the American Medical Association to help transform the way medical students are trained. Mayo's proposal will create a curriculum to prepare students to practice within patient-centered, community-oriented, collaborative care teams. The 11 schools will form a learning consortium to address gaps in the way medical students are trained now and the needs of 21st century medicine, said AMA president Jeremy Lazarus (Baier, 6/15).
Bloomberg: Chicago Hospital Accused Of Cutting Throats For $160,000
A surgeon at Chicago’s Sacred Heart Hospital cut a hole in Earl Nattee’s throat on Jan. 3, the day before he died. It’s not clear why. The medical file contained no explanation of the need for the procedure, called a tracheotomy, according to a state and federal inspection report that quotes Sacred Heart’s chief nursing officer as saying it happened "out of the blue" (Babcock, 6/15).
Oregonian: Dozens Of Lobbyists Tie Up Bill To Let Consumers Sue Insurance Companies
More than 40 registered lobbyists are fighting a bill that would give Oregonians the right to sue insurance companies. House Bill 3160 would add insurance companies to the state's Unlawful Trade Practices Act, allowing Oregonians to sue companies for not paying claims promptly, denying coverage for losses or medical bills, and other reasons. Insurance companies are the only industry exempt from the 1971 law after banks were added in 2010 in the wake of the recession (Zheng, 6/14).
California Healthline: Bill Would Extend Private Plan Requirement To Cover Autism Therapy
The autism community got good news this week when the Assembly Committee on Health unanimously passed a bill extending what advocates described as critical behavioral health therapy for people with autism. SB 126 by Sen. Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) would require California insurers to include applied behavior analysis -- known as ABA therapy -- as an essential benefit under the Affordable Care Act next year (Hart, 6/14).