KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

States Search For, Reap Benefits From Programs To Lower Health Care Costs

Bloomberg explores the heavy financial toll of caring for a loved one with a disability. In the meantime, as states like Minnesota, Oklahoma and Florida see slower health care cost growth through implementing novel programs, others -- like Nevada and Wisconsin -- search for the magic tonic to lower their own costs.

Bloomberg: Ways To Fend Off The Wealth-Sapping Costs Of A Disability
Lynn Francis was worried when her 81-year-old mother Joann started forgetting things a few years ago…Looking after the aging, especially those with mental and physical incapacities, is almost always emotionally and physically exhausting for families. It can also become a financial nightmare as families struggle to cover the costs of medical care, assisted living facilities and nursing homes -- a burden far greater than most people realize (Braham, 8/28).

The Associated Press: Minn. Health Care Costs, Cost Growth Below Average
Minnesota likes to think of itself as an innovator in health care with some of the lowest costs yet one of the healthiest populations in the country. And the state's official health care economist says its efforts to put a lid on rising costs seem to be paying off. Those moves include bipartisan legislation in 2008 under GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty, additional initiatives under Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton that dovetail with the Obama administration's health care overhaul, and new delivery strategies that have come from the state's health care providers and insurers, said Stefan Gildemeister, director of the Health Economics Program at the Minnesota Department of Health (Karnowski, 8/28).

The Associated Press: Wellness Programs Help Lower Oklahoma Health Costs
Health advocates say anti-smoking, wellness programs and community public health initiatives across the state are helping to improve Oklahoma residents' health and control the rapidly rising costs of health care. Programs developed by the Department of Health and other state agencies focus on the leading causes of death among Oklahomans: heart disease, cancer and stroke (Talley, 8/28).

The Associated Press: Insurers Curbing Costs As Health Care Costs Rise
As health care costs rise in Florida, insurers and hospitals vested in the success of the Affordable Care Act, are coming up with new ways to cut costs from buying services in bulk and piloting programs to lowering hospital readmission rates and limiting the number of doctors within a plan's network. Florida's health care costs is rising an average of 6.9 percent a year, higher than the national average of 6.5 percent (Kennedy, 8/28).

The Associated Press: Nevada Health Cost Stats Fueled By Boom Years
Nevada's growth rate in health care expenditures over the last few decades is tied to the boom years that brought tens of thousands of workers to the Silver State when the economy was on overdrive, health experts said. Statistics provided by the Kaiser Family Foundation showed that from 1991-2009 Nevada had the highest-in-the-nation average annual growth rate of health care expenditures, averaging 9.2 percent (8/28).

The Associated Press: Wis. Takes Collaborative Approach To Health Costs
A massive statewide database of health care claims years in the making is set to go public in 2014, allowing Wisconsin residents to do comparison shopping before they choose a doctor or schedule surgery. The Wisconsin Health Information Organization has accumulated 250 million claims for care provided to 3.7 million Wisconsin residents over the past several years (Bauer, 8/28).

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