State Highlights: Medicaid For Former Foster Youth; Free Clinic Expands In Va.; Va. Mental Health Law Signed

A selection of health policy stories from Virginia, Arizona, Missouri and Connecticut.

Stateline: States Enroll Former Foster Youth In Medicaid
About 26,000 young adults 18 to 22 years old are released from foster care each year and left to fend for themselves without state protections. The age that a young adult in foster care loses benefits varies across the states. The new health care provision for former young people without parents in the picture grants them full Medicaid coverage until age 26 in the state where they lived when they left foster care. For states, the trickiest part may be finding these young adults (Vestal, 4/30).

The Associated Press: Free Health Clinic To Ramp Up Operations In Va. 
Now RAM organizers are hoping to help more Virginians without health care. RAM founder and former “Wild Kingdom” TV star Stan Brock announced at the Capitol on Tuesday that his organization is launching a two-year “Stop the Suffering” campaign aimed at providing more free health clinics in Appalachian states. The announcement comes as the General Assembly continues to debate whether to expand Medicaid eligibility. Like most other Southern states, Virginia has thus far rejected expansion (4/29).

The Associated Press: McAuliffe Signs Va. Mental Health Reform Bill
Virginia officials are celebrating the signing of a mental health reform bill. Gov. Terry McAuliffe ceremonially signed the bill Monday at the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville (4/29).

The Associated Press:  Congressmen Want Phoenix VA Health Chief Removed 
A trio of Arizona congressmen on Tuesday called for the head of the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care Center to step down amid allegations of gross mismanagement and neglect at the facility, the latest in a string of issues at VA hospitals across the nation. The call from Republican Reps. David Schweikert, Matt Salmon and Trent Franks comes after weeks of growing outrage about lapses in veteran patient care in Phoenix. They urged hospital director Sharon Helman and her leadership team to resign, saying in a letter that "drastic changes need to be made to ensure that this never happens again” (4/29).

The Associated Press:  Former Health Care CEO Pleads Guilty To Fraud
The former CEO of a southeast Missouri health center has pleaded guilty in federal court to fraud. Cheryl Ann White was chief executive officer of the nonprofit Southeast Missouri Health Network from 2004 to 2013. Prosecutors say the 56-year-old New Madrid resident falsified federal grant applications and used health center money to pay for a roof on a building she owned. She also admitted providing insider information to a contractor who built the center's Bernie clinic and worked on several other projects (4/29).

The CT Mirror: House OKs Nursing Home Transparency, Despite GOP Talkfest
A sharply divided House of Representatives voted Tuesday night for new financial reporting rules on nursing homes that were proposed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy at the request of a union ally, SEIU 1199 New England. The bill passed on an 86 to 57 vote, with seven Democrats joining every Republican present in opposition. The House GOP minority signaled its deep opposition to the Democratic governor’s bill and the administration's refusal to negotiate by extending the debate to nearly eight hours. The measure, which now goes to the Senate, would create a Nursing Home Financial Advisory Committee to regularly examine the financial solvency and quality of care of nursing homes (Pazniokas, 4/29).

The CT Mirror: CT Lawmakers Join War On Heroin, Painkillers
Washington has turned its attention to the epidemic of heroin addiction and overdose deaths -- including more than 250 in Connecticut last year -- but there’s a limit to what the federal government and Congress can do, especially in times of tight budget constraints. Members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing Tuesday to review growing concerns about heroin and prescription abuse. Some wanted more funds for law enforcement and treatment, others wanted to know which programs worked best, and a few members said they worried that Congress would drop the ball on the issue (Radelat, 4/29).

The CT Mirror: Business Groups Question Malloy Health Reform Funding Plan
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s proposal to hire nine workers to help develop a state-level health reform initiative isn’t, in itself, especially controversial. But the way the governor wants to pay for it -- by imposing a new fee on health insurance policies -- has drawn opposition from business groups. One has warned that the state could face a lawsuit if the measure passes. At issue is how the state would come up with $3.2 million for expenses and new staff to work on a project, known as the state innovation model, or SIM (Becker, 4/29).

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