State Highlights: Mich. Mental Health Funding Cuts; Ga. Rural Hospitals

A selection of health policy stories from California, Michigan, Georgia, Colorado, Florida and North Carolina.

Los Angeles Times: Senate Panel Backs Health Coverage For Those In The Country Illegally
A proposal to have the state fund an expansion of health care to cover low-income residents in the country illegally was advanced Wednesday by the state Senate Health Committee. Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) introduced SB 1005, which would use state money to expand Medi-Cal eligibility to those with an annual income of about $15,000 or less for one person but who have not been able to qualify because of their immigration status. People in the country illegally are prohibited from participating in the federal Affordable Care Act program providing subsidized care (McGreevy, 4/30). 

The Detroit Free Press: Funding Cuts Send Hundreds Of Mentally Ill Onto Detroit’s Streets 
Three months after the state released a plan to strengthen its network of services to mentally ill people, local agencies say funding cuts are endangering services to clients. In Detroit, downtown’s longtime, round-the-clock shelter for homeless and mentally ill people is scheduled to close at 6 a.m. today -- turning out hundreds of people until it reopens at 6 p.m. for 12-hour shifts (Erb, 5/1).

Modern Healthcare: Georgia Governor Acts To Bolster Faltering Rural Hospitals 
Rural hospitals in Georgia will be able to keep their licenses while offering a more limited array of services, thanks to the state's Department of Community Health approval this week of a plan advanced by Gov. Nathan Deal (Robeznieks, 4/30).

The Denver Post: Colorado Clinics Scramble To Find Place In New Health Care Environment 
Free and low-cost clinics around the metro area are scrambling to find their place in light of the Affordable Care Act and expansion of Medicaid. Some clinics that previously served only people without insurance are preparing to take Medicaid and even private insurance. Others are sticking with their mission of serving residents who don't qualify for insurance, even as that number dwindles (Kane, 5/1).

The Miami Herald: Tenet Healthcare Corp. Pays $5 Million To Settle False Claims Act Case 
Tenet Healthcare Corp., owner of four Miami-Dade hospitals, paid $5 million in December to settle a South Florida whistle-blower lawsuit alleging that the company paid kickbacks to doctors by allowing them to lease offices at below-market rates, among other favorable terms, in return for patient referrals -- a violation of federal and state laws. To settle the False Claims Act case, Tenet paid $4 million to the federal government -- with $1 million of that going to the South Florida landlord who was the whistle-blower in the case -- and an additional $1 million for legal fees and other costs. Tenet admitted no wrongdoing (Chang, 4/30).

North Carolina Health News: To Head Medicaid, Wos Taps Trusted Aid 
When state Medicaid chief Carol Steckel resigned her office last October after only eight months on the job, state health officials said they would look nationwide for a replacement to guide the agency through a promised reform process. But, in the end, Department of Health and Human Services Sec. Aldona Wos decided to tap one of her most trusted advisors, Robin Cummings, to run North Carolina’s Medicaid program (Hoban, 5/1).

Health News Colorado: Health Cost Commission Wins Nod From Lawmakers, Business Leaders
A new health cost commission will begin tackling the confounding problem of unsustainable health spending in Colorado by late summer if a bill passes the House and moves to the governor by next week. Senate Bill 14-187 would establish a bipartisan 12-member commission of experts on health costs and support it with $400,000 to hire staff, seek data from experts and commission studies on why Colorado has some of the highest health costs in the nation (McCrimmon, 4/30).

The Associated Press: GA Agency Awards $390K In Rural Health Care Grants
The Georgia Department of Community Health has awarded $390,000 in grants to bolster health care service in rural communities. The grants are being distributed by the department's Office of Rural Health, and officials said Wednesday that the agency has distributed more than $2.5 million in rural health care grants since 2007 (4/30).

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.