State Highlights: Patients Crowd Free Clinic Event In Calif.; Mass. Bill Aims At Lowering Retiree Health Costs

A selection of health policy stories from California, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.

Los Angeles Times: Patients Pour Into LA Sports Arena For Free Medical, Dental Care
An army of doctors, nurses, dentists and other health workers on Thursday began providing free care to a steady stream of patients at the annual Care Harbor clinic at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena. Care Harbor founder Don Manelli estimated that 700 to 800 people would receive free care by the end of the day Thursday. In all, the clinic expects to serve about 4,000 Angelenos--many of whom don't have insurance, or don't have coverage for services like dentistry or vision care (Brown, 10/31). 

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Health Insurance Sign Ups Are New Service At Annual Free Clinic In L.A.
The Care Harbor L.A. event, in its fifth year, expects to treat about 3,750 people over four days. But this year is different because many of those in attendance will be eligible for insurance through the federal health law, said Howard Kahn, chief executive officer of L.A. Care Health Plan (Gorman, 11/1).

The Associated Press: Bill Calls For Changes In Mass. Retiree Benefits 
Lawmakers are reviewing Gov. Deval Patrick's proposal to rein in health care costs for retired public employees by raising the retirement age and service requirements and reducing what the state pays for many workers' premiums. Supporters and critics crowded the Statehouse Thursday as the Legislature's Public Service committee heard testimony on a bill the administration projects would save up to $20 billion over the next 30 years (Leblanc, 10/31). 

California Healthline: Inland Empire Clinics Work To Ease Demand On Hospital EDs
Efforts in the Inland Empire to steer patients toward primary clinics and away from emergency departments appear to be alleviating some of the strain placed on county hospitals in recent years. EDs in Riverside and San Bernardino counties -- which were hit particularly hard by the economic recession -- grappled with increasing demand by uninsured patients, limited capacity and ever-increasing wait times. Preparations for the Affordable Care Act, including strengthening county networks of safety-net clinics, seem to have had a positive impact on hospitals, according to Inland Empire sources (McSherry, 10/31).

The Associated Press: Pa. Democrat To Hold Town Hall On Health Care Law 
A freshman Democrat representing northeastern Pennsylvania's biggest cities and some anthracite coal towns will hold a town hall meeting on the federal health care law in the wake of an uproar over its website woes and insurers discontinuing plans that don't meet the law's standards. U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright was to appear Friday in Pottsville (11/1). 

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