State Highlights: Mass. Near 0 Percent Uninsured; Ga. Scraps Medicaid Contract Bidding; States Turn To Public Health Issues

A selection of health policy stories from Massachusetts, Georgia, Wisconsin, Illinois and Arizona.

WBUR: Latest Look Finds Mass. Near Zero Percent Without Health Insurance
When Massachusetts passed its landmark health coverage law under Gov. Mitt Romney in 2006, no one claimed the state would get to zero, as in 0 percent of residents who are uninsured. But numbers out today suggest Massachusetts is very close. Between December 2013 and March of this year, when the federal government was urging people to enroll, the number of Massachusetts residents signed up for health coverage increased by more than 215,000. If that number holds, the percentage of Massachusetts residents who do not have coverage has dropped to less than 1 percent (Bebinger, 6/9).

Georgia Health News: Bidding On Medicaid Contract Scrapped
A state agency has canceled the contract bidding to offer care coordination services to more than 400,000 Medicaid beneficiaries who have disabilities or are elderly. The contract proposals that were received were “over budget,’’ according to a state website that announced the bid cancellation. Care coordination for the “aged, blind and disabled’’ population was envisioned as part of the state’s effort to improve services and reduce spending. This beneficiary category represents roughly 28 percent of Medicaid enrollees in Georgia, but it accounts for 60 percent of the overall costs of the program (Miller, 6/9).

Chicago Tribune: Medicaid Managed Care Kickoff Delayed For Much Of Illinois
Illinois is delaying the launch of all Medicaid managed care programs by at least a month in much of the state, including the Chicago area, a state official confirmed Monday. The state, which originally intended to start moving Medicaid patients into managed care July 1, still has not signed final contracts with some insurers and has yet to mail patients informational packages asking them to select health plans (Frost, 6/10).

Stateline: State Lawmakers Tackle Public Health Issues
Four years into implementing the Affordable Care Act, state politicians turned their attention to other pressing health care issues such as preventing drug overdose deaths, limiting e-cigarettes and making medical marijuana more available. States also grappled with the question of who should receive a costly and highly effective cure for hepatitis C. A few states also launched programs aimed at controlling two of the costliest chronic conditions -- asthma and diabetes. And throughout the first half of the year, states still debated the highest-profile questions about the ACA: whether to expand Medicaid and how to improve their insurance exchanges. Here’s a look at the top public health issues addressed in state legislatures this year (Vestal, 6/10).

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Scott Walker Misses Deadline For Appointing Mental Health Board Members
Gov. Scott Walker missed the deadline Monday to name all members to a new board to oversee mental health care in Milwaukee County. Walker named seven of his 11 appointments but needs more information before he can name the other four, according to Laurel Patrick, his spokeswoman. Patrick said in an email Monday that two more members -- a substance abuse specialist and a consumer of mental health services -- would be named later this week, once they are vetted (Kissinger, 6/9).

Georgia Health News: Looking For Answers To The Rural Health Care Crisis 
Four hospitals have closed in the past two years. Many areas can’t attract doctors, or have trouble keeping the ones they have. Some counties are without a hospital or other critical health services. Those rural health care problems in Georgia were among the issues discussed at the initial meeting Monday of the Rural Hospital Stabilization Committee, recently appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal (Miller, 6/9).

NPR: A Reason To Smile: Mexican Town Is A Destination For Dental Tourism
Sitting in a dentist's chair hardly rates as a vacation. But every year, tens of thousands of people go to a tiny border town near Yuma, Ariz., that has proclaimed itself the dental capital of Mexico. Los Algodones is a virtual dental factory. Some 350 dentists work within a few blocks of downtown Algodones. With low prices and fast service, most patients come for major work (Robbins, 6/9).

WBUR: McInnis House Provides End-Of-Life Care For The Undocumented And Homeless
The roughly 160,000 undocumented immigrants in Massachusetts do not have access to most public health insurance programs. Some doctors and nurses in Boston have noticed this can pose particular challenges at the end of life, where the undocumented do not have access to nursing facilities or hospice care. Some health care providers are stepping in to help these undocumented and dying individuals (Emanuel, 6/10).

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. The full summary of the day's news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.