A selection of health policy stories from New York, Georgia, California, Iowa, Colorado and North Carolina.
The Associated Press: N.Y. Awards $462M To Help Hospitals Keep Services
New York health officials have awarded $462 million to help 22 hospitals and five large public hospital systems statewide continue key services. The funds followed a federal agreement in April for New York to reinvest $8 billion in Medicaid savings to support hospital overhauls and expand primary medical care over five years. The goal is to reduce avoidable hospital use by 25 percent while helping financially struggling institutions shift to more primary and outpatient care (7/9).
Georgia Health News: Plan For New Trauma Center Not Welcomed By All
Hospital chain HCA’s push to have its Augusta hospital designated as a trauma center has unsettled leaders in the state’s hospital industry. A trauma center is a medical facility that’s specially equipped and staffed to treat seriously injured people. Georgia authorizes four levels of such centers, depending on their capabilities. The critics of the HCA effort point to the trauma center growth in the Florida market. Such centers in the Sunshine State are charging a “response fee” – essentially an entry fee into the hospital – for each trauma case that averages more than $10,000 per patient, according to a Tampa Bay Times investigation in March (Miller, 7/9).
The San Francisco Chronicle: San Francisco Health Care Premiums Expected To Drop
A year ago, dozens of angry city workers packed a City Hall hearing where San Francisco supervisors threatened to reject proposed 2014 health premiums for city employees, saying that Kaiser Permanente had failed to justify a 5.25 percent rate increase and that they were fed up with the provider's lack of transparency. On Wednesday, in nearly empty chambers, the same budget committee easily approved the city's proposed rates for 2015 -- a package that will slash Kaiser premiums by 2 percent, a rate the insurer has agreed to hold steady through 2016. "It's quite remarkable that you were able to negotiate these rates," Supervisor John Avalos - who last year led the opposition to the rates - told Health Service System Director Catherine Dodd (Lagos, 7/9).
Los Angeles Times: Anthem Blue Cross Faces Another Suit Over Obamacare Doctor Networks
Amid growing scrutiny statewide, insurance giant Anthem Blue Cross faces another consumer lawsuit over its use of narrow networks in Obamacare coverage. A group of Anthem policyholders sued California's largest for-profit health insurer Tuesday in state court, accusing the company of misrepresenting the size of its physician networks and the insurance benefits provided (Terhune, 7/9).
Des Moines Register: Feds Give Iowa Hospitals $10M To Improve Rural Care
Twenty-five small Iowa hospitals will soon join efforts to track and coordinate care of chronically ill patients, thanks to a $10 million federal grant to the Mercy hospital system, hospital leaders said Wednesday. The three-year grant was part of $26 million in new Iowa grants made under the Affordable Care Act (Leys, 7/9).
Denver Post: Colorado Food Bank Gets Grant For Staff Helping Clients With Medicaid
When Arvada Community Food Bank director Sandy Martin wrote a grant proposal seeking U.S. Department of Agriculture funds to expand services, she knew there was a pent-up need for her organization to provide more than just food. What she didn't anticipate was just how great that need was. The food bank got the three-year grant of $187,500 for Bridges to Opportunity. It's one of several nationwide pilot programs supporting food bank clients as they move toward self-sufficiency. Instead of just providing food, the Arvada Food Bank has now hired a full-time staff member to help clients tie into assistance programs such as Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (Briggs, 7/10).
The Associated Press: One Year Later, No New Abortion Rules In NC
Abortion rights advocates in North Carolina say they are in the dark about new rules required by a year-old law that they fear could effectively shut down many of the state's clinics. Broadly speaking, the law requires that clinics be regulated in the same way as outpatient surgical centers. But exactly how those rules will take shape and what the state's 15 abortion clinics will need to do to comply remain unknown. The state's health department says it is committed to maintaining access to the procedure and is still drafting the rules. There is no deadline for drafting the rules (Ferral, 7/9).