State Highlights: Texas Pharmacists Want Medicaid Price Transparency

A selection of health policy stories from Pennsylvania, Texas, North Carolina, Georgia and California.

The Associated Press: Corbett Signs Anti-Abortion Coverage Bill In Pa.
Pennsylvania is joining about 20 other states in limiting coverage of abortions under health care insurance policies offered in a federally-run insurance marketplace starting next year under a sweeping federal law. The office of Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican who opposes abortion rights, said he signed the bill Monday, without offering any comment (6/17).

Texas Tribune: Pharmacists Push Transparency In Medicaid Pricing
As a business owner, would you sign a contract that requires you to purchase a product, give that product away and then request payment from a third party without knowing how much you'd receive? What if you also didn't know how much you'd be reimbursed before signing the contract, and that the other party could change that reimbursement rates without notice? That's the situation facing Texas pharmacists participating in Medicaid managed care (Aaronson, 6/18).

North Carolina Health News: N.C. Emergency Patients Twice As Likely To Have Mental Health Problems
Research published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention compared rates of people reporting to North Carolina's emergency departments complaining of mental health issues to EDs in the rest of the country (Hoban, 6/17).

Georgia Health News: New Firm To Tackle Shortfalls In Senior Care
Outcomes Health Information Solutions, based in Alpharetta in northern metro Atlanta, has launched a company that aims to address gaps in the medical care of seniors. SeniorCare will send nurse practitioners into people's homes to assess the health of individual seniors and send the information to the appropriate insurers and physicians' office. It will primarily be a service company, unlike its health IT parent company, Outcomes Health (Miller, 6/17).

HealthyCal: Acupuncturists Expect Surge In Patients Under Obamacare
Students at Five Branches University in Santa Cruz signed petitions and wrote letters to Sacramento last year in hopes that acupuncture, one of their areas of study, would be covered under new state and federal health care reform laws. They got their wish. Last fall, California listed acupuncture as a benefit that insurers must include in new plans when the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, known informally as Obamacare, takes effect Jan. 1 (Bookwalter, 6/18).

California Healthline: Plan For Autism Medi-Cal Benefit Rejected
The Legislature late last week voted to exclude one type of autism therapy from Medi-Cal by reversing a previous decision to link it with the state's essential health benefit package. Applied behavioral analysis -- known as ABA therapy -- was part of the language in two nearly identical special session bills. ... The bills had implicitly included ABA therapy as one of the state's essential health benefits -- meaning it would have been covered for those children enrolled in Medi-Cal. Friday the Legislature struck that language from the related bills (Gorn, 6/17).

California Healthline: California Budget Puts Some Health Care Issues On Hold
[T]his year's balancing act is kinder to health and social services than any spending plan over the past half decade, according to legislators and veteran Sacramento watchers. "I would take this budget over the last five eight days a week," said Darrell Steinberg, Senate President Pro Tempore and one of the budget's main architects. Steinberg, a Sacramento Democrat long considered a champion of health care in several  camps, acknowledged the budget didn't include all the health care spending advocates hoped it would -- particularly for Medi-Cal provider reimbursement and a certain type of autism therapy (Lauer, 6/17).

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