A selection of health policy stories from Oregon, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Georgia, Colorado, California and Texas.
The Oregonian: Providence Slammed By Court For Denying Autism Coverage, Oregon Insurance Division's Role Questioned
In a potentially far-reaching opinion, a federal judge in Portland has ruled that Providence Health Plan wrongfully denied insurance coverage for groundbreaking autism therapy for two Portland boys. U.S. District Court Judge Michael Simon ruled that Providence's denial of coverage violated both federal and state mental health parity laws. The statutes require health insurers to cover mental health issues no different than physical issues. At issue in the case was whether health insurers have to cover "applied behavioral analysis," an intense therapy for autism, which afflicts one of 88 children in the United States (Manning, 8/12).
Chicago Tribune: SEIU Stops Collecting Fees From Non-Member Home Health Workers
Various chapters of the Service Employees International Union have stopped collecting fees from home care workers who are not union members, a move that exemplifies the broader implications of a recent Supreme Court ruling. The court's decision only prevented SEIU from collecting fees of such workers in Illinois. But in an attempt to quench lawsuits by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, various chapters outside of Illinois have stopped collecting fees of similar workers (Cancino, 8/12).
Kansas Health Institute News Service: New Federal Rules Will Disrupt Care For Disabled Kansans, State Officials Say
A state official charged with overseeing Medicaid-funded services that help people with disabilities live in community-based settings rather than in nursing homes said Tuesday that coming changes in federal wage and hour rules are likely to increase costs, reduce access to care and give beneficiaries less say in deciding who will provide their care. "We have great concerns about this," said Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services Secretary Kari Bruffett, testifying before a Statehouse meeting of the Robert G. Bethell Joint Committee on Home and Community Based Services and KanCare Oversight (Ranney, 8/12).
St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Missouri Sees Biggest Drop In Medicaid Enrollment Compared To Other States
The state of Missouri has experienced the single largest monthly drop in Medicaid enrollment, at a time when most states are reporting increases. Missouri had an average of 808,824 individuals enrolled in its Medicaid program and the Children’s Health Insurance Program at the end of June. That represents a decrease of 37,260 people, or 4.4 percent, compared with average enrollment a year earlier, according to a report released Friday by the Department of Health and Human Services (Liss, 8/13).
Georgia Health News: Medicaid Increase, Uninsured Data Show Ga. Impact
Federal figures show Georgia's Medicaid and PeachCare enrollment jumped 16 percent since October – the highest percentage increase among states that have rejected the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. The Georgia jump greatly exceeds that of the second-highest increase among non-expansion states: 9.5 percent in Montana. Expanding Medicaid involves extending enrollment in the government program to many low-income people who had not previously been eligible (Miller, 8/12).
Modern Healthcare: Flood Of New Patients Worries Mental Health Workers
Many behavioral healthcare advocates and providers across the country are reporting significantly increased demand for their services because of the Medicaid expansion in some states. But they are worried about whether underfunded and understaffed mental health centers will be able to adequately serve the flood of new clients. Officials at Arapahoe/Douglas Mental Health Network and AspenPointe in Colorado say they have noticed an uptick in the number of Medicaid patients they're seeing. Those organizations did not have data on exactly how many more patients they're seeing (Dickson, 8/12).
The California Health Report: Peer Respites For Mental Health Consumers Prevent Hospitalizations
As people with mental health crises overwhelm California's hospitals, jails and homeless shelters, counties across the state are gradually embracing residential respite houses located in neighborhoods and staffed by peers — people who have been consumers of the mental health system. For people on the verge of a crisis, staying at a peer-run respite, typically for a couple of days or up to two weeks, can help them recover with support from people who have had similar experiences. That can prevent incarceration or forced hospitalization, which often damages family relationships and can cause the loss of housing or jobs, said Yana Jacobs, chief of outpatient adult services for Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services at the Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency (Graebner, 8/12).
The Associated Press: Texas Abortion Law Could Send Women Across Borders
Crossing borders is a part of life in El Paso in far West Texas, where people may walk into Mexico to visit family or commute to New Mexico for work. But getting an abortion doesn't require leaving town. That could change if a federal judge upholds new Texas rules that would ban abortions at 18 clinics starting Sept. 1, including only one that offers the procedure in El Paso, where one of the toughest anti-abortion laws in the U.S. has come under particular scrutiny at a trial ending Wednesday in Austin (Llorca and Weber, 8/12).