State Highlights: Audit Questions Facts In N.C. Medicaid Managed Care

A selection of health policy stories from California, North Carolina and Oregon.

Los Angeles Times: Gov. Jerry Brown Signs Bill To Increase Access To Abortions
Giving California women more access to abortion, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill Wednesday that allows nurse practitioners and certain other non-physicians to perform the procedure during the first trimester of pregnancy. The governor acted on 32 bills in all, approving measures that will cap drug costs for cancer patients, expand the number of people on CalFresh, the state's food stamp program, and promote breastfeeding (McGreevy and York, 10/9).

The New York Times: California Expands Availability of Abortions
Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday expanded access to abortion in California, signing a bill to allow nurse practitioners, midwives and physician assistants to perform a common type of the procedure, an aspiration abortion, during the first trimester. Washington, Montana, Vermont and New Hampshire allow nurse practitioners to perform such abortions, which use a tube and suction, while several other states, including California, permit nonphysicians to provide drugs to terminate pregnancy (Lovett, 10/9).

The Associated Press: Key Details Withheld From Audit Of North Carolina Medicaid
Strategic edits made to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services response to an audit critical of the state's Medicaid program raises questions about whether key facts were withheld to make the program appear worse off than it really is.  Gov. Pat McCrory has used the January audit to make a case for privatizing the state's $13-billion Medicaid system (Biesecker, 10/9).

North Carolina Health News: Audit Edits Eliminated Defense Of Medicaid Program
As last year’s audit of the Medicaid program widened in scope, the state auditor critiqued the performance of a highly regarded program that manages low-income patients. Those criticisms stood, uncontested, in the final report (Hoban, 10/9).

Los Angeles Times: State Mental Hospitals Remain Violent, Despite Gains In Safety
It has been nearly three years since psychiatric technician Donna Gross was strangled on the fenced grounds of Napa State Hospital -- a slaying that helped expose a system wide problem with patient violence. Although safety has improved since then, violence is still far too high, exacerbated by an increasingly prison-savvy population with predatory tendencies, an Assembly committee was told Wednesday. The committee focused its attention on the Napa facility, but will also be examining the other four state-run mental hospitals (Romney, 10/9).

The Lund Report: Regence BlueCross BlueShield Objects To Making Health Care Costs More Transparent
The Oregon Health Policy Board laid out five straw proposals last week in an attempt to carry out Gov. John Kitzhaber's request to transform the health care system by coordinating care, rewarding quality outcomes and using a global budget to pay for health care costs. One tool that could be helpful in driving down costs is a statistical warehouse known as the all-payer, all-claims database, created by a 2009 law, which lets the state collect mountains of healthcare information (Gray, 10/7).

The Lund Report: Prenatal Care Expansion A No Brainer For Undocumented Patients
The expansion of the Citizen-Alien Waived Emergency Medical (CAWEM) benefit package to include prenatal services on Oct. 1 comes at a time health care advocates are getting on the same page as those who want to reign in costs. CAWEM-Plus is the name of the new benefits package administered by the Oregon Health Authority, which will expand an existing pilot program from 16 Oregon counties to the entire state (McDonald, 10/8).

California Healthline: Mental Health Program Shows Success
A decade-old comprehensive mental health program in California that has put about $4 billion into community-based programs improves the chances of people with serious mental illnesses being able to transition to independent living rather than end up homeless or in jail, according to a study released last week. Adults who have an uninterrupted stay in California's Full Service Partnerships programs are 13.5 percent more likely to successfully transition into independent living, according to the study by Oregon State University's College of Public Health and Human Sciences. The study was published in October's American Journal of Public Health (Norberg, 10/9).

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