A selection of health policy stories from Texas, California, Arizona and Kansas.
San Francisco Chronicle: City Strikes Deal For Two New Hospitals
San Francisco officials have struck a deal with California Pacific Medical Center to build two seismically safe hospitals following months of negotiations after city supervisors balked at the original agreement Mayor Ed Lee had negotiated. Under the new compromise, to be announced Tuesday, the Sutter Health affiliate will scale back the size of its planned hospital on Cathedral Hill from 555 beds to 274, and expand the capacity of a rebuilt St. Luke's Hospital in the Mission District from 80 beds to 120, steps designed to ease congestion concerns around Cathedral Hill and maintain the viability of St. Luke's, those familiar with the talks said (Coté and Tucker, 3/4).
Arizona Republic: Arizona Foster-Care Mental Health Bill Gains
The Senate gave unanimous approval Monday to a slimmed-down version of a bill aimed at improving behavioral-health care for foster children. Senate Bill 1375 now requires two state agencies to issue detailed monthly reports to the governor and lawmakers on foster kids' mental-health treatment, including how many children are moved from a placement due to behavioral problems. The bill also requires the Arizona Departments of Economic Security and Health Services and the state's Medicaid program to recommend the most efficient way to provide physical and mental-health care to children (Reinhart, 3/4).
Kansas Health Institute: Safety-Net Clinics Struggling With KanCare
While acknowledging "bumps in the road," state officials for several weeks have been saying that the launch of KanCare, the state's new Medicaid program, has been going better than they expected. But people who work at some of the clinics that specialize in treating poor and uninsured Kansans describe it differently (Shields, 3/4).
California Healthline: Notice, Grace Period At Issue In Rescission Rules
California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones filed a cross-appeal in the ongoing fight over how to implement California's 2010 passage of AB 2470, authored by then-Assembly member Hector De La Torre (D-South Gate). The bill, approved by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, banned rescission of consumers' health coverage except in cases of non-payment or fraud. The rules laid out by Commissioner Jones spelling out how insurers needed to comply with the law were challenged in court by the Association of Life & Health Insurance Companies in 2011. This year, on Feb. 1, the association filed an appeal of a decision by Sacramento Superior Court judge Michael Kenny, and on Feb. 25, the Commissioner announced his department filed a cross-appeal on two different aspects of the ruling (Gorn, 3/4).
California Healthline: Pharmacies, Not-For-Profit Groups Could Help Enroll More Californians
As director of communication and public affairs at Covered California, Oscar Hidalgo is in charge of the exchange's marketing and outreach efforts. His job is to make millions of Californians aware of the exchange, help them understand their health insurance options and then get them to enroll. It's a big task with some unusual challenges. Many prospective enrollees are not proficient English speakers. They also have little contact with mainstream media. As a result, the exchange is taking a couple of non-traditional tacks to reach more people. … The exchange will launch a huge media advertising campaign in August. Paid employees in an "assisters" program will help individuals sign up for Covered California. The exchange will staff a telephone call-in center to help potential enrollees sign up for the right program (Gorn, 3/4).