A selection of health policy stories from Mississippi, Massachusetts, Oklahoma and California.
The Associated Press: Mississippi Prisons, Mental Health, Medicaid Seek More Money
Mississippi's prison and mental health systems and Medicaid program are seeking millions of extra dollars to get through the budget year, then more money on top of that for the coming year. Agency leaders appeared Tuesday before the Joint Legislative Budget Committee to request money for fiscal year 2014, which ends June 30, and for fiscal 2015, which begins July 1 (9/17).
The Associated Press: Mary Fallin Blocks Same-Sex Benefits
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has ordered the National Guard to stop processing requests for military benefits for same-sex couples, her office confirmed Tuesday, despite a Pentagon directive to do so. Fallin spokesman Alex Weintz said the governor was following the wish of Oklahoma voters, who approved a constitutional amendment in 2004 that prohibits giving benefits of marriage to gay couples (9/17).
The Associated Press: Survey: Mass. Primary Care Docs In Short Supply
The state is experiencing a critical shortage of primary care physicians and stark geographical differences in the recruitment and retention of doctors, a new report says. On a more positive note, the annual Physician Workforce Study, set for release by the Massachusetts Medical Society on Wednesday, also found a growing number of doctors willing to embrace cost-saving techniques such as accountable-care organizations and global payments (Salsberg, 9/17).
Medpage Today: ED Use Could Surge Under ACA, Study Suggests
Increases in California emergency department (ED) use were driven in large part by Medicaid patients, presaging increased burdens after the Affordable Care Act kicks in completely, researchers found. From 2005 to 2010, the number of visits to California emergency departments rose by 13.2 percent from 5.4 million to 6.1 million annually, with a significant 35 percent increase in the number of patients insured through Medi-Cal (as Medicaid is known in California) driving this rise, according to Renee Hsia, MD, MSc, of the University of California San Francisco, and colleagues (Petrochko, 9/17).
California Healthline: Ruling's Effect On Autism Coverage
The Second District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles last week ruled that the Department of Managed Health Care cannot use licensure as a basis for denial of a type of autism treatment to state employees. The ruling means better access for patients to applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy, according to Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog, the consumer advocacy group that brought the lawsuit. … Court said the state previously had a policy of allowing denial of ABA therapy because of a lack of licensing -- though health plans, he said, weren't actually denying it (Gorn, 9/17).