KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

State Roundup: Ga., Minn. Move Slowly On Exchanges

Today's state roundup comes from Massachusetts, Minnesota, Georgia, New Hampshire, Iowa, California, Oregon, Oklahoma and Kansas.

Politico Pro: Mass. Delegation Asks To Preserve Safety Net
The entire Massachusetts congressional delegation is asking CMS to preserve the level of safety net funding and provider payments as the state tries to renew its Medicaid waiver. "We are concerned that changes proposed by CMS could significantly threaten payments to Massachusetts health care providers providing care for the most vulnerable populations," Sens. John Kerry and Scott Brown and the 10 House members in the state's delegation wrote (Haberkorn, 10/31).

Minnesota Public Radio: Dayton Forms Health Care Task Force
Gov. Mark Dayton issued an executive order Monday that establishes a new state task force on health care reform. The order requires the state Commerce Department and the 17-member task force to design and develop a health insurance exchange. ... The GOP-controlled Legislature rejected authorizing legislation last session. When asked whether the new order allows the governor to bypass the need for such legislation, Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman said the order allows further steps (Pugmire, 10/31).

(St. Paul) Pioneer Press: Dayton Forms Two Task Forces To Deal With Health Care Issues 
The 17-member Minnesota Health Care Reform panel, chaired by Department of Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson, will examine ways to expand access to coverage, increase efficiency and reduce health disparities…. The second committee, the 15-member Health Insurance Exchange Advisory task force ... will have its first meeting next week (Belden, 10/31).

Georgia Health News: The Grady Inspection — And Other Health News
A state committee, as expected, last week moved toward recommending a quasi-governmental structure for Georgia's health insurance exchanges, one that would resemble the Georgia Lottery Corp. The committee also agreed on separate exchanges for individuals and for businesses with 50 employees or fewer, governed by the single authority (Miller, 10/31). 

Des Moines Register: State Retirees Face Increases In Health Premiums
The fast-rising costs of health care are biting especially hard on several thousand state retirees, who recently were notified that their insurance premiums are being raised by as much as 71 percent. ... Caleb Hunter, a spokesman for the state Department of Administrative Services, said the retirees’ health plan is supposed to be financed entirely by premiums “We’ve found that the state actually has been subsidizing the retirees, in some instances by quite a bit,” he said (Leys, 10/31).

New Hampshire Public Radio: A Silver Tsunami?
New Hampshire is an "old" state, having one of the oldest average populations in the country and all reports expect that trend continuing over the next decade. What's also expected to continue is the burden of health care costs and its outpacing of growth in the economy (Knoy, 10/31).

The Lund Report: Congressional Candidates Speak Out On Health Policy Issues
With a special election a week away, the candidates for [Oregon's] First Congressional District are campaigning non-stop. ... None of the [three] Democratic candidates support cuts in Medicare and Medicaid, and they all believe there are more effective ways to reduce healthcare costs. ... [They favor] President Obama’s proposal to spend $1.79 billion to strengthen community clinics (Stiller, 10/31).

Kansas Health Institute News: Kansas Sees Drop In Treatment Beds For Severely Disturbed Children
Several Kansas psychiatric facilities that specialize in treating severely disturbed children are closing their doors or scaling back operations in the wake of a new state policy aimed at cutting costs and limiting reliance on inpatient care. ... in January, officials at the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services ordered a major reduction in referrals to the facilities, citing both the need to cut spending and concerns that local community mental health centers had been too quick in referring children for inpatient care (Ranney, 10/31).

California Watch: Prime To Manage Hospital Over Harris' Objection
When Attorney General Kamala Harris’ office denied the sale of Victor Valley Community Hospital to Prime Healthcare Services’ nonprofit arm in September, it seemed like a closed case. However, the hospital’s board continued talks with Prime, declined to negotiate with another potential buyer, and yesterday succeeded in securing a deal in bankruptcy court to allow Prime, through a consulting agreement, to take over day-to-day management of the hospital (Jewett, 11/1). 

The Associated Press: Police, Drug Lobby Clash Over Oklahoma Meth Bill
Oklahoma authorities have been at the forefront of the nation's battle against methamphetamine, but they will soon have a tough new opponent: a politically connected, well-heeled pharmaceutical industry. At issue is a proposal to require a prescription for certain cold and allergy tablets containing pseudoephedrine (Murphy, 10/31).

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