State Highlights: Calif. Hospital Chain Settles Anesthesia Billing Suit

A selection of health policy news from California, New York, Florida, Louisiana, Kansas and North Carolina.

Los Angeles Times: Hospital Chain Sutter Health Settles Suit Over Anesthesia Billing
A major California hospital chain, Sutter Health, agreed to pay $46 million and disclose more pricing information to consumers to resolve a whistle-blower complaint alleging false and misleading charges for anesthesia. Sutter Health, which runs 24 acute-care hospitals in Northern California, said it reached the settlement Monday just prior to a trial starting this month over the allegations that it added thousands of dollars for "Code 37x" anesthesia charges that were already covered by other billing for the hospital operating room (Terhune, 11/4).

The Associated Press/Wall Street Journal: Study Shows NY Medical Residents Get Most Support
Researchers at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services say New York doesn't lack physicians. But it received $2 billion out of $10 billion available in 2010 federal funding to support residencies. Lead author Dr. Fitzhugh Mullan faults "the rigid formula" governing the system that sends "a disproportionate share" of the federal investment in the physician work force to certain states, including Massachusetts and Rhode Island (11/4).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Study Points To 'Imbalance' In Spending On Doctor Training
Florida and New York have roughly the same population, but New York has five times as many Medicare-sponsored residency training positions and seven times the Medicare funding graduate medical education. The numbers give a glimpse into the 'imbalance' in how Medicare distributes its $10 billion a year for graduate medical education (GME), according to a study by George Washington University researchers published Monday in Health Affairs" (Galewitz, 11/4).

Reuters: Doctor Demand Will grow By Up To A Third By 2025 -- Study
Driven by an aging population and increased access to health insurance, the U.S. will need more doctors by 2025, says a new study. The expected rise in demand varies by state and medical specialty, according to the study's lead author (Seaman, 11/4).

New Orleans Times Picayune: Louisiana Medicaid Paid Companies To Care For People Already Dead 
For a year and a half, Louisiana paid to provide care for almost 2,000 Medicaid recipients who were already dead. The Department of Health and Hospitals gave out approximately $1.9 million to provide health coverage for around 1,700 deceased people enrolled in the Medicaid programs called Louisiana Behavioral Health Partnership and Bayou Health. The irregular payments occurred from February 2012 to June 2013, according to a report released by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor today (O'Donoghue, 11/4). 

Kansas Health Institute: Less Than 60 Days Remain: Officials Prepare For Next Phase Of KanCare
With fewer than 60 days remaining before the second major phase of KanCare is scheduled to start, state and managed care company officials say they continue to lay groundwork for as smooth a launch as can be managed, though there are important details and major tasks that remain to be worked out or completed (Shields, 11/4).

North Carolina Health News: Rate Cuts Threaten Dementia Care Facilities
Proposed cuts to the Medicaid rate paid for caring for people with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia threaten facilities’ ability to survive, say advocates (Hoban, 11/4).

California Healthline: Rural Medi-Cal Managed Care Effort Begins
Californians in 28 rural counties now have access to Medi-Cal managed care plans, bringing state-linked managed care plans to all 58 California counties. The expansion will affect roughly 274,000 residents in rural areas, according to Toby Douglas, director of the Department of Health Care Services, which is coordinating the effort. "Managed care increases patient satisfaction and delivers higher quality care and more positive health outcomes," Douglas said in a written statement. State officials hope managed care will reduce costs and improve quality of care and access to services (Gorn, 11/4).

California Healthline: Campaign Advocates Health Coverage For Undocumented Immigrants In California
The California Endowment has launched a statewide campaign to shine a light on the estimated one million Californians who aren't eligible for coverage under the Affordable Care Act because they don't have the right paperwork. Television ads, billboards and other advertising showcase undocumented immigrants in California who are not eligible to buy insurance through the ACA's health exchanges. The California Endowment has identified a handful of Californians -- mostly young professionals and students -- to illustrate the situation. The crusade, not tied to any specific legislation or ballot measure nationally or in California, has wide-ranging goals (Lauer, 11/4).

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.