State Roundup: Federal Audit Calls For N.Y. Medicaid Program To Repay Funds

News outlets report on health care developments in California, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina and Texas.

Boston Globe: Report Hails Mass. Biotech Spending As Job Creator
Halfway through a decade of investment promised by Governor Deval Patrick's 10-year, $1 billion life-sciences initiative, launched in 2008, the state has spent only about a third of the money targeted to promote the biotechnology and medical device industries in Massachusetts. But the authors of a report set to be released Tuesday by the Boston Foundation, a philanthropic group, say the effort has helped stimulate a key sector of the state's economy, creating more than 8,000 jobs through capital grants, tax incentives, and business loans. They urge state government leaders to continue funding the initiative in the face of stepped-up competition from other life-sciences hubs, such as California, Maryland, and New Jersey (Weisman, 3/26).

The New York Times: U.S. Wants State To Pay After Audit Of Youth Care
In another critical assessment of New York's multibillion-dollar Medicaid program, a federal audit says the state improperly claimed $27.5 million in reimbursements for services to mentally ill and emotionally disturbed children and teenagers (McKinley, 3/26).

The New York Times: Caregiver For Disabled People Sues New York State
A New York State-employed caregiver for people with developmental disabilities sued the state on Monday, accusing it of retaliating against him for whistle-blowing. The employee, Jeffrey Monsour, has brought to light a number of questionable practices by the state, as varied as routinely falsifying fire drills and turning a blind eye toward abuse of those in the state's system of care for people with developmental disabilities. He was one of the people interviewed and featured in a 2011 series of articles by The New York Times examining problems of abuse and corruption within the system (Hakim, 3/25).

Georgia Health News: Senate Limits Abortion Coverage In State Health Plan
A bill that would allow the Georgia World Congress Center Authority to provide its own insurance plan added an amendment Monday that would restrict abortion coverage for state employees. The amended legislation passed on a 34-15 vote in the Republican-dominated Senate. It would bar coverage for abortion in the 650,000-plus-member State Health Benefit Plan. The only exception would be for situations in which the life of the mother is in danger or it’s needed "due to the mother’s medical necessity." The bill still must be reconciled with the House version of the legislation, which does not address abortion (Miller, 3/26).

The Texas Tribune: Senate Approves Overhaul Of Long-Term Medicaid Care
The Texas Senate unanimously approved an overhaul of long-term and acute care Medicaid services on Monday in an effort to expand care to more Texans with disabilities while saving millions of state dollars. … SB 7 is expected to save $8.5 million in Medicaid costs in the 2014-15 biennium by expanding managed care services, establishing pilot programs to try to provide services at capitated costs and implementing measures to ensure more efficient monitoring of services (Aaronson, 3/25).

Health Policy Solutions: Colorado Third State To Ban Discrimination Against LGBT Patients
Colorado is the third state to prohibit discrimination in health coverage. California and Oregon have barred the practice along with the District of Columbia. The federal Affordable Care Act calls for equity in LGBT health care, but very few states have taken action thus far to codify these rights (Kerwin McCrimmon, 3/25).

San Jose Mercury News: Fremont's Washington Hospital: Joint Replacement Patients, Doctors Excluded From New Facility
When Robert Cantley needed both knees replaced in August, he was expecting to recover from the surgery at Washington Hospital's fancy, new $42.7 million Center for Joint Replacement. According to hospital marketing brochures, the center offered "A Higher Level of Care" in a 20,000-square-foot space featuring 25 private patient rooms, a "breathtaking physical therapy space" and a beautifully landscaped therapy garden. Instead, Cantley did his physical therapy sessions in a dimly lit hallway on the sixth floor of the main hospital in what he described as "a miserable set of circumstances." What Cantley and many other patients at the public hospital didn't know was that access to the new center, the only facility of its kind in the Bay Area, is restricted to just two orthopedic surgeons at the hospital -- the only ones on the Washington staff who met 24 criteria set by the hospital (McGlone, 3/25).

North Carolina Health News: Medicaid Schools' Tout High Numbers Of Primary Care Grads, But The Numbers Tell A Different Story
Medical schools in North Carolina are touting the high numbers of students they graduate who go on to primary care specialties. But those numbers aren't the whole story. … In North Carolina, numbers released by the state's four medical schools claim that from each, upwards of 42 percent of students will be headed into primary care. But Morris-Singer said matching for primary care doesn't mean those doctors will practice in primary care (Hoban, 3/26).

California Healthline: California Rural Health Association Closes Shop
The California State Rural Health Association, a unifying voice for the state's disparate rural health care providers for almost two decades, has laid off staff and closed its Sacramento office. The 16-member board of directors hopes to keep the trade association alive and active, "but it's becoming more difficult in this environment," said Dave Jones, president of the volunteer board (Lauer, 3/25).

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from more than 300 news organizations. The full summary of the day's news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.