KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

State Roundup: Conn. Home Worker Demand Soars

A collection of health policy stories from around the United States.

The Connecticut Mirror: Demand For Home Care Workers Soaring, But Will There Be Enough Takers?
Ensuring that there are enough direct care workers to meet the growing demand is one of the most significant challenges facing state officials as they try to dramatically expand the availability of home-based long-term care. ... Home care work is often sensitive, challenging and poorly compensated (Levin Becker, 1/25).

The Texas Tribune: Updated Map Of Government-Funded Family Planning Providers In Texas
Last fall, The Texas Tribune created this interactive map to show the impact of the Legislature's cuts to family planning funding. With less money to give this year, the state continues to reduce the number of contractors statewide, from 71 in 2011 to 41 agencies today (Murphy and Tan, 1/25). 

Health News Florida: House Justice Panel Passes PIP Reform, Despite Bill's Flaws
After blasting it as anti-consumer and anti-doctor, a House justice panel nevertheless approved a PIP reform bill today so that the effort to fight auto-accident fraud wouldn't die. ... The bill, which would create a whole new system for auto-accident coverage, would require treatment to take place within 72 hours and only in a hospital emergency room — a provision that even the bill's supporters warned would overwhelm ERs and lead to unnecessary costs (Gentry, 1/25).

Florida Current/Health News Florida: Hospitals, Nursing Home And State Employees Cut In House Health Care Budget
Hospitals, nursing homes and state employees are cut  in an early spending plan floated by House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Matt Hudson, R-Naples, on Tuesday. Hospital spending for both inpatient and outpatient services will be cut by 7 percent  and 2.5 percent, respectively. The total reduction,including local state and federal dollars, is a $291 million reduction in hospital reimbursement rates. Rural hospitals and stand-alone children's hospitals are exempt from the inpatient reductions (Jordan Sexton, 1/24).

Sun Sentinel/Health News Florida: Florida Bill Would Make Doctors, Health Centers Post Prices
Restaurants have menus, retailers have pricetags and soon, Florida doctors could have price boards. Legislation in Tallahassee would force doctors and some medical care centers to post signs of about 3-feet-by-5-feet in their waiting rooms showing the prices to be charged a person paying out of pocket. Charges for the insured vary by policy and wouldn't be posted (LaMendola, 1/25).

Sun Sentinel/Health News Florida: Package Of Three Anti-Abortion Bills Passes Committee
In an emotionally charged two-and-a-half-hour debate, Republican lawmakers signed off on a trio of abortion bills. ... One measure (HB 277) would further restrict third-trimester abortions, require that all abortion clinics be owned and operated by doctors, and create a 24-hour waiting period before a woman could end her pregnancy. Another (HB 839) would prohibit abortions after 20 weeks; and a third (HB 1327) would require abortion providers to sign an affidavit stating they're not performing the procedure because the woman did not want a child of a particular gender or race (Haughney, 1/25).

The New York Times: Blame Photoshop, Not Diabetes, For This Amputation
New York City’s health watchdogs warn that drinking too much sugary soda could cost you a leg. But you also might lose a limb if you appear in one of their ads. ... The health department confirmed on Tuesday that its advertising agency had removed the lower half of the man’s leg from the picture to make its point: the headline over the image reads "Portions have grown. So has Type 2 diabetes, which can lead to amputations" (McGeehan, 1/25).

The Associated Press: NYC Health Ad Altered Photo, Made Man An Amputee
The city's latest public health campaign warning against diabetes features a photo of an overweight amputee — but an ad agency, not the disease, was to blame for the man's missing leg. The man's photo was digitally altered to make it appear that his right leg is missing below the knee, The New York Times reported Wednesday. The original photo, taken by photographer Morten Smidt, shows a man with all his limbs sitting on a stool (Matthews, 1/25).

The Seattle Times: Unicare Life And Health Insurance Fined $100,000
The state's Insurance Commissioner has fined an Indiana-based medical insurance company $100,000 for charging international students at local colleges premium rates that weren't approved by state regulators, using insurance agents who weren't licensed and wrongly excluding certain medical care. ... The state insurance office said the company, which was fined for premium rates on policies issued from mid-2004 to mid-2009, continued to use a policy exclusion that allowed them to deny coverage solely because an injury was sustained while the patient was intoxicated, despite a state law banning that exclusion in 2004 (Ostrom, 1/25).

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Milwaukee  County Might Run Family Care In Kenosha, Racine
Milwaukee County would run the state Family Care program for Racine and Kenosha counties this year for about $1.5 million, under a deal that won preliminary approval from a County Board panel Wednesday. Milwaukee County would arrange for in-home care services for the elderly and people with disabilities in the two other counties — an expansion that likely would coincide with an expected influx of new clients in Milwaukee County. The arrangement is expected to earn cash to bolster Milwaukee County's care management organization, which was created to run Family Care more than a decade ago in a setup described as similar to an HMO (Schultze, 1/25).

St. Louis Beacon: Doughnut Hole Discounts Help Seniors; Health Exchanges On Hold In Missouri
Some elderly in the Express Script[s] network have had complaints about not being able to get their medicine through Walgreens. That problem is a contract issue between two businesses, and the government is not stepping in. Another concern of seniors is being addressed under the health reform: the so-called doughnut hole, the gap between their out-of-pocket cost of medicine and the amount paid through a Medicare prescription drug plan (Joiner, 1/25). 

Lund Report: Policy Board Approves Business Plan For Oregon Health Plan Overhaul
[The Oregon Health Policy] Board members gave final approval to (a) business plan yesterday, ending a months-long process involving countless public meetings. ... The business plan will now be delivered to the Legislature, which must approve the plan during its month-long session that gets under way next Wednesday for the Oregon Health Authority to get the necessary federal waivers and begin setting the stage for coordinated care organizations (CCOs) to emerge (Waldroupe, 1/25).

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