State Highlights: 'Health Care Homes' Show Promise In Minn.; Texas Women's Health Providers; Fla.'s Hidden Costs

A selection of health policy stories from Minnesota, Texas, Louisiana, Florida, New York and Massachusetts.

Minnesota Public Radio: Study: Program Focused On Preventive Medicine, Team Treatment Shows Promise
‚ÄčA health care effort focused on preventive medicine and a team approach to treatment is showing promise improving care and reducing costs, state officials say. The Health Care Homes initiative has increased patient access to clinics, particularly for people of color, while improving quality and coordination of care, according to a state study released Thursday. Health Care Homes is not home health care. The idea is to change the way clinics provide care from a traditional, illness-based model, to one that strives to improve the health of patients with chronic conditions and disabilities (Benson, 2/20).

The Star Tribune: Minnesota's New Way Of Seeing Patients Has Improved Health Care Results, Researchers Say
A new model of primary care that emphasizes disease prevention and doctor-patient collaboration appears to be lowering Minnesota’s medical costs while raising the quality of care patients receive. Patients seen at “health care homes,” created as part of far-reaching state health reforms enacted in 2008, had medical costs that were 9 percent less between 2010 and 2012 than those for patients who sought primary care at traditional clinics, according to a set of reports released Thursday by the University of Minnesota and the state Health and Human Services departments. Those patients also received more effective care for asthma, vascular disease and other chronic conditions, the researchers found (Olson, 2/20).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Group Sues To Force Insurers To Take AIDS Money
An advocacy group has filed a federal lawsuit seeking to force insurance companies in Louisiana to take payments from a federal program that helps HIV and AIDS patients. Lambda Legal filed the suit in a Baton Rouge federal court Thursday saying at least one insurance company is violating the Affordable Care Act by refusing to take premium payments from the federal Ryan White HIV/AIDS program (2/20).

The Dallas Morning News: Texas Women’s Health Program Adds Providers, But Fewer Sign Up
State officials told lawmakers Thursday that the state has lined up providers and has the capacity to serve more poor women in the Texas Women’s Health Program, but fewer women have signed up for the help. The state’s family planning programs have been the subject of fights over budget cuts and abortion issues in recent years, with cuts to Planned Parenthood, a drop of millions in federal funding and then an infusion of state money. Now, as the dust settles, state officials told the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services that the new programs will be able to provide more poor women with family planning services than before (Martin, 2/20).

Miami Herald: Health Care’s Hidden Costs Can Take Patients By Surprise
When a rheumatologist told Linda Drake of Miami that she might have lung cancer, the former smoker did some research and discovered a study for early detection and treatment of the disease with researchers in South Florida. Drake, 57, decided to participate in the study because there was a $350 flat fee, and she could enroll through UHealth -- the University of Miami’s network of clinics and hospitals ... The results were negative. Drake breathed a sigh of relief. But a few days later, an unpleasant surprise arrived in the mail: a bill for $210 from UHealth for “hospital services” labeled as “Room and Board - All Inclusive,’’ even though she never set foot in a hospital or spent the night at the clinic (Chang, 2/20).

The New York Times: A Pharmacy Provides Salves For A Community’s Spirits
Just about no one knows the territory like a neighborhood pharmacist, membrane by membrane. On Jan. 3, 2012, Dichter Pharmacy in the Inwood section of upstate Manhattan burned to the ground along with the entire corner of 207th Street and Broadway. Under one flag or another, a drugstore had been in roughly that spot for 90 years, but this certainly seemed like the end (Dwyer, 2/20).

WBUR: A New Demand For Mass. Health Mergers: Show Proof Of Savings
What seemed like a routine meeting of a state commission in the basement of Boston’s beautiful main public library may become a milestone for health care reform in Massachusetts. It could be the “Show Me The Money” moment for health care cost control. From here on out, hospitals, physician groups and other providers proposing to merge will have to show the state’s Health Policy Commission (HPC) that the newly formed entity would save money and that those savings would be passed along to consumers (Bebinger, 2/20).

Minnesota Public Radio: Report: Prison Health Care System Needs More Accountability
A new report concludes health care services provided to the roughly 9,000 adult inmates in Minnesota prisons should be better coordinated and accountable. Perhaps because of snow-slopped roads, the official release today of the report from Minnesota Legislative Auditor Jim Nobles drew only a sparse crowd. Only three of the 12 lawmakers who typically review legislative-auditor reports attended the hearing. Nobles said he understands that the topic of prison health lacks a natural constituency (Yuen, 2/20).

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