State Highlights: SEIU, Hospital Strike Deal In Calif.; N.Y. Medicaid Audit; Dental Therapists

A selection of health policy stories from California, New York, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana and North Carolina.

Los Angeles Times: Hospitals And Union Make Deal To Avoid Ballot Measure Fight
California hospitals have reached a deal with the state's largest health care union to avoid an expensive and potentially nasty ballot measure fight this fall that would have cast a harsh spotlight on high medical costs and executive salaries. As part of Tuesday's agreement, the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West dropped proposed ballot initiatives to limit hospital charges and cap what nonprofit hospitals pay their executives (Terhune, 5/6).

The Wall Street Journal: SEIU, California Hospitals Will Create $100 Million State Medicaid Fund
The nation's biggest health care union and the California hospital industry said Tuesday they had reached a multiyear deal to create a $100 million fund to improve a state-run Medicaid system they say falls short on hospital reimbursements. But after months of public threats and private talks, the Service Employees International Union didn't appear to win one of its biggest demands: access to tens of thousands of hospital workers for an organizing drive (Trottman and Maher, 5/6).

The Associated Press: Federal Audit Faults NY Medicaid Claim Rate
Federal auditors say New York should repay $60.8 million in Medicaid reimbursement for unallowable costs for room and board for taking care of developmentally disabled people (5/7).

The Hill:  Issa Demands NY Return Medicaid Payments
The chairman of the House Oversight Committee is demanding the federal government recoup $61 million in fraudulent Medicaid payments made to the state of New York. A Health and Human Services (HHS) report Tuesday concludes New York was wrongfully reimbursed for room-and-board costs at state-run facilities by the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services between 2009 and 2011 (Al-Faruque, 5/6).

USA Today: Dental Therapists Aim To Fill In Oral Health Shortfalls
A few states are trying to alleviate their oral health care shortages by allowing the licensing of dental therapists -- a fairly new class of dental care providers, essentially dentistry's version of physicians' assistants. They face strong resistance from dentists (McElhaney, 5/6). 

The CT Mirror: End-Of-Life Care Proposal Wins Final Passage
The House of Representatives has given final passage to a proposal aimed at creating a formal process for people with terminal illnesses to discuss their end-of-life care options with a health care provider and document their choices in a medical order. The measure, which passed the House and Senate unanimously, now heads to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who has said he supports it. The bill would allow the state Department of Public Health to create a pilot program for “medical orders for life-sustaining treatment,” or MOLST. The program would include training for health care providers on discussing options with patients, who could then document their choices in a form that would direct medical personnel on how to respond (Becker, 5/6).

The CT Mirror: Time Running Short On For-Profit Hospital Proposal. What Then?
Time is running out for legislators to act on one of the most complex and controversial issues they’ve faced this session: whether to craft a new regulatory and statutory framework for nonprofit hospitals to convert to for-profits. And with hospitals in Waterbury, Bristol, Manchester and Vernon poised to become for-profit, the possibility of no legislative action raises a question with no clear answer: What then? Tenet Healthcare, the for-profit company poised to acquire the four hospitals, says it can complete the conversions without legislation. But Attorney General George Jepsen said it’s not certain that the company’s plans would pass legal scrutiny under current law (Becker, 5/6).

Georgia Health News: Hepatitis C: The High Cost Of A Cure
Probably the biggest ethical dilemma now confronting the health care world involves two expensive new drugs to treat hepatitis C. The issue boils down to a tradeoff between efficacy and cost. … Some patients face even longer treatment periods – and higher costs. Georgia Medicaid covers the drugs, though with some restrictions, for its 1.6 million beneficiaries. In March, Georgia’s Drug Utilization Review Board recommended that Medicaid add Sovaldi and Olysio as “non-preferred,” and needing a state approval in each case (Miller, 5/6).

The Associated Press:  Indiana Medicaid Stops Funding Some Early Births
Indiana's Medicaid program no longer will pay for early, elective childbirths beginning July 1 as part of the state's effort to reduce its infant mortality rate, the Family and Social Services Administration announced Monday.The state-federal health care program for needy families no longer will pay a hospital or physician for the delivery of a child prior to 39 weeks gestation unless it is medically indicated or occurs naturally, the agency announced in conjunction with the Indiana State Department of Health (5/6).

The Associated Press:  More Turnover At DHHS As Medicaid Official Resigns
The turnover continues at the North Carolina agency responsible for running the Medicaid health insurance program for poor children, older adults and the disabled. A state Department of Health and Human Services spokesman said Tuesday that Medicaid chief financial officer Keith Brennan resigned Tuesday. DHHS spokesman Kevin Howell offered no other explanation about Brennan's departure (5/6).

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