KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Provider Groups Weigh In With Supreme Court On Calif. Medicaid Case

In other Medicaid news, Texas switches its Medicaid recipients to cards instead of using monthly proof-of-coverage letters to save cash while some advocates worry that children's health could be at risk.

Modern Healthcare: Provider Associations Weigh In On Calif. Medicaid Case
With states around the country preparing to implement large cuts in Medicaid budgets, interest groups representing thousands of U.S. hospitals have filed briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that health care providers should be able to challenge indiscriminate rate cuts through lawsuits. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear three consolidated lawsuits on its first day of oral arguments for the fall term, Oct. 3. In those cases, three health care providers allege that California's 10 percent rate cuts in Medi-Cal in 2008 violate the terms of the Medicaid Act, which guarantees that Medicaid recipients have access to the same level of care as the general population (Carlson, 8/6).

Dallas Morning News: Texas Switching Medicaid Recipients To Cards
Texas has stopped mailing monthly, proof-of-coverage letters to the more than 3 million people on Medicaid. Instead, the Health and Human Services Commission has begun issuing plastic cards. The change is designed to save about $30 million over four years by replacing the monthly paper mailings with the new cards, commission spokeswoman Stephanie Goodman said Friday. Until this month, the state spent nearly $1 million a month to print and mail paper forms that poor people on Medicaid could take to the doctor's office as proof they re-enrolled and qualify for coverage (Garrett, 8/6).

Charleston Post and Courier: Treatment Denied
Raymond Johnson checked himself into the emergency room last month for a throbbing pain in his chest. The 26-year-old was stunned when the doctors delivered his diagnosis - breast cancer. Uninsured and unable to pay for costly surgery and chemotherapy, the Cross resident followed the advice of his patient advocate and applied for a Medicaid program that covers breast cancer treatment. A few days later, Johnson got another surprise. He was denied for the program because he is a man. The Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention and Treatment Act, a federal law enacted in 2000, uses Medicaid funds to cover treatment for breast cancer or cervical cancer patients who otherwise wouldn't qualify for the state and federally funded health insurance program for the poor and disabled (Dudley, 8/7).

The Miami Herald/News Service of Florida: Florida Doctors Organization Opposes Medicaid Overhaul
Florida Medical Association officials voted in a closed door session last weekend to take a position in opposition to the state's proposed Medicaid overhaul. A number of doctors have been opposed to the shift of most Medicaid patients into managed care, but few would say so publicly. The association has likewise been silent on the issue until now. Health News Florida reported that FMA leaders passed a resolution Sunday to discourage the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services from approving the waiver that would allow for revamping the system. The FMA's new president, Dr. Miguel Machado, said the group would send a letter to CMS making its opposition known (8/6).

The Connecticut Mirror : Walmart, Dunkin' Donuts Top Employers Of HUSKY Recipients
Walmart, Dunkin' Donuts, Stop & Shop, McDonald's, and the First Student transportation company employ the most workers whose families rely on the state's HUSKY health insurance program for low-income children and their parents, according to a report by the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Research. The report identified the 25 companies with the most employees who receive coverage for themselves or their children through the HUSKY Medicaid program, which covers families that earn up to 185 percent of the poverty level, or $34,280 for a family of three. A person working fulltime at minimum wage, $8.25 an hour, would earn $17,160 a year (Levin Becker, 8/5).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Kids Health Coverage At Risk, Advocates Worry
Now on Capsules, KHN's news blog, Jenny Gold reports: "Lawmakers largely spared Medicaid and Medicare in the debt deal signed by President Barack Obama Tuesday. But activists say health programs aren't yet out of the woods, and low-income children may be at risk" (Gold, 8/5).

Arizona Republic: Arizona Respite Care Trimmed 15%
Arizona's poor, sick and disabled will soon have limits on paid hospital stays and reduced respite hours for their caregivers - part of a $500 million cut to the state's Medicaid program. Heart-rending appeals from parents and others who care for the developmentally disabled led the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System to scale back its original proposal, which would have cut respite care in half for more than 50,000 children and adults who qualify for long-term care. Instead, the hours will be cut to 600, or 25 days, from the current 720 hours, or 30 days, annually (Reinhart, 8/5).

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