A selection of health policy stories from Texas, Kansas, Georgia, Wisconsin and California.
CQ HealthBeat: OIG Final Rule Allows Medicaid Investigators To Use Data Mining
State Medicaid fraud investigators will be able to get federal matching funds to electronically search for potential fraud, under a final rule to be published on Friday. The rule, which will be published by the Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, is expected to save the federal government about $34.3 million from fiscal 2014 through fiscal 2023 in fraudulent claims that would have been paid (Adams, 5/16).
The Texas Tribune: End-Of-Life Bill Sparks Anger, Accusations
Political powerhouse Texas Right to Life is working overtime to try to defeat a compromise measure aimed at improving state laws governing "end of life" medical decisions. But with time running out to get Senate Bill 303 passed, the fight over the legislation has shifted from political to personal. Sen. Bob Deuell, R-Greenville, a family physician who has worked for years to craft legislation acceptable to faith-based groups, the disability community and medical professionals, said Texas Right to Life is acting like "the woman that went to Solomon and wanted the baby to be cut in two" (Aaronson, 5/17).
The Texas Tribune: House Backs Bill To Protect Medicaid Providers’ Rights
Medicaid providers would have clearer due process rights during fraud investigations under a measure the House gave tentative approval to on Wednesday. The bill would also codify the state's rules for withholding payments to providers during such investigations (Smith and Aaronson, 5/16).
Kansas Health Institute: Governor's Mental Health Initiative Panned At Manhattan Meeting
Karen McCulloh spent much of Wednesday afternoon listening to state officials explain how Gov. Sam Brownback's mental health initiative might work. She said she didn't hear much that she hadn't heard before. … Brownback has said his initiative, much of which remains undefined, is meant to "strengthen" the state's mental health system and better serve those most at-risk of hospitalization or incarceration (Ranney, 5/16).
Georgia Health News: Albany Hospital Merger Slowed By Latest Ruling
U.S. District Court Judge Louis Sands has issued a temporary restraining order against further moves by Phoebe Putney Health System to consolidate with the former Palmyra Medical Center in Albany. The ruling had been sought by the Federal Trade Commission. Phoebe Putney officials said in a statement that the judge's action won't alter day-to-day operations at the former Palmyra, which was purchased from HCA and has been renamed Phoebe North (Miller, 5/16).
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Uninsured, Low-Income Visits To Hospital
More than 1 million visits to Wisconsin's hospitals were by patients who were uninsured and low-income in 2011 -- an increase of more than 30 percent since 2006, according to the Wisconsin Hospital Association Information Center's annual Guide to Wisconsin Hospitals. The Wisconsin Hospital Association Information Center also reported that 70 percent of surgeries and procedures now done at the state's 148 hospitals don't require an overnight hospital stay and are done in outpatient departments. The figure shows that the traditional measure of inpatient stays no longer is a valid way to gauge a hospital's patient volume and size (Boulton, 5/16).
California Healthline: Increasing Medical Residencies Could Help Inland Empire
As the Inland Empire grapples with a shortage of primary care physicians, experts say the solution hinges on creating more medical residencies. New state legislation could help. AB 1176 proposes to increase the number of primary care medical residencies in underserved regions, such as the Inland Empire. The new slots would be funded by levying a fee on insurers (McSherry, 5/16).