KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

State Roundup: Minn. Says Health Exchange Will Cost $40 Million

News outlets provide a selection of health care news from Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota and Oregon.

MPR: Minn. Estimates Health Insurance Exchange Costs At $40M
Minnesota budget officials estimate it could cost the state as much as $40 million to run its health insurance exchange in 2015. The state-based online insurance marketplaces are a cornerstone of the federal health care overhaul. State officials are trying to figure out how to come up with the money. ... So far, Minnesota has received about $70 million in federal money to build its exchange — everything from designing the exchange to hiring staff to making contracts with information technology vendors (Stawicki, 10/10).

CQ HealthBeat: Illinois Company Challenges HHS Birth Control Rule
Another private firm has filed a suit against a federal rule that requires employers to provide their workers with no-cost coverage of birth control in their health insurance policies. The suit was filed by Korte & Luitjohan Contractors, Inc., of Highland, Ill., which is represented by the American Center for Law and Justice, a legal organization opposed to abortion. The suit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, and the company owners say the federal rule — required by the health care law — violates their Catholic faith (Norman, 10/11).

Kansas Health Institute News: Brownback Officials Continue Push For Jan. 1 KanCare Launch
With deadlines looming, including one for deciding if the three managed care companies (MCOs) are ready to go, officials in the administration of Gov. Sam Brownback continue their push toward a Jan. 1 launch for the package of Medicaid reforms they call KanCare. ... Officials are scheduled to decide Oct. 19 whether the new system is developed enough so that they can begin assigning Medicaid enrollees to the MCOs' health plans (Shields, 10/10). 

Reuters: Massachusetts Seeks Compliance Statements From Pharmacies
After a nationwide meningitis outbreak was tied to drugs shipped from a plant in Massachusetts, the state is requiring all pharmacy compounders to sign a statement saying they are complying with regulations on their work, officials said on Wednesday. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health also confirmed that compounder Ameridose LLC has agreed to close temporarily (Begley, 10/10).

Detroit Free Press: Tough Michigan Immunity Law For Drugmakers May Not Apply To Meningitis Cases, Experts Say
Michigan is the only state in the country where victims of faulty drugs can't sue the drugmaker, but experts say those affected by the recent outbreak of meningitis from a fungus-tainted steroid drug compound likely will have legal recourse. The reason: the compounding companies, such as the one that produced the steroid, don't need approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The immunity law only covers drugs approved by the FDA (Walsh-Sarnecki, 10/11).

Georgia Health News: New Pricing Puts Some 'Miracle' Drugs Out Of Reach
An increasing number of health plans have gone to different pricing for biologic drugs, causing patients' out-of-pocket costs to rise by hundreds of dollars per month. [Multiple sclerosis patient Caroline] Kulinski joined patient advocates, health care professionals, industry officials and others at a Wednesday forum at Emory University to promote awareness and an advocacy campaign to address the issue of biologic drug pricing. Their goal is to get action on the issue from the state Legislature (Miller, 10/10).

The Lund Report (an Oregon news service): Petition Delays Integration Of Dental Services Into CCOs
State officials had been preparing to integrate dental services into the coordinated care organizations (CCOs) on January 1, and had finalized a memorandum of understanding to seek approval from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. But when a petition signed by two prominent legislators surfaced on Monday, things came to a sudden halt. Sen. Alan Bates (D-Medford) and Rep. Tim Freeman (R-Roseburg) joined Mike Shirtcliff, DMD, president and CEO of Advantage Dental Services, asking for an administrative rules change (Lund-Muzikant, 10/11).

The Lund Report: Advocates Want Legislature To Spend Tobacco Agreement Funds On Prevention
The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement, signed by Oregon and 45 other states in 1998, was supposed to help the state recover some of the states’ tobacco-related healthcare costs. According to the Oregon Partners for Tobacco Prevention, formerly known as the Tobacco Free Coalition of Oregon, the state has yet to use the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement funds as they were intended ... the state has spent or committed the majority of its share of the settlement dollars, $1 billion to date, on debt service (Scharer, 10/11).

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