State Highlights: 850K Texas Kids Lack Health Coverage

A selection of health policy stories from Texas and California.

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Census: More Than 850,000 Texas Kids Lack Health Coverage
Texas continued to have the highest rate of people without health insurance in 2012 at 24.6 percent, or more than 6 million residents, according to the Current Population Survey estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau this week. Texas also has the largest number of children without health insurance and the highest rate of poor adults without health insurance, according to 2012 American Community Survey estimates (Aaronson, 9/20).

Healthy Cal: County Health Departments Brace For Cuts 
Counties all over California are cheering the state’s decision to expand Medi-Cal to more than 1.4 million low-income adults – and bracing for the $1.3 billion the state expects to take away from county health services over the next four years. Counties should see savings on January 1, 2014, when Medi-Cal expands to include childless adults under the age of 65 with incomes less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level or $15,856 for an individual annually. The federal government will pay 100 percent of the costs for new enrollees from 2014-2016 and 90 percent in 2020 and beyond (Graebner, 9/19).

California Healthline: Autism Advocates Praise Covered California's Expected Policy Change
The Covered California health benefit exchange board today is expected to reverse a policy that required all family members to join the exchange together, and that move is being hailed by autism advocates. They say a vital type of autism treatment now will be affordable for more California families. Many families in California cannot afford to pay for applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy, except through health insurance, according to Karen Fessel, executive director of the Autism Health Insurance Project, a not-for-profit autism advocacy group (Gorn, 9/19).

California Healthline: Changes On Horizon For California Safety Net's Care Of Undocumented, Indigent
What is unclear, however, is how these clinics will stay afloat to provide care for millions of undocumented immigrants who will be left out of health reform. One strategy is to position themselves as a provider of choice, which will bring in additional revenue from new Medi-Cal patients, and through the private insurance market, said Shannon McConville, a health policy expert and researcher for the Public Policy Institute of California. McConville in 2012 co-wrote an extensive report examining the role of the state's safety net called, "Access to the Health Care Safety Net in California” (Hart, 9/18).

Healthy Cal: Prompted By Reform Incentives, Hospitals Aim For Customer Satisfaction 
Under national health care reform, the federal government is starting to link hospital payments to how well they treat patients, and hospitals are responding by creating new customer-satisfaction positions like Kegin’s, changing security procedures, and even timing how long people must spend on the telephone before getting needed medical information. The Affordable Care Act links about $1 billion in Medicare reimbursement payments nationwide to how hospitals score on the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ "Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems" survey, or HCAHPS (Richard, 9/20).

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