KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

State Roundup: Ill. House Wants State Retirees To Pay Part Of Their Health Care

News organizations report on state health care policy issues in Alabama, California, Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts and Oregon.

Chicago Sun-Times: Illinois House Votes To End 'Free' Health Care For State Retirees
The Illinois House voted Wednesday to yank "free" taxpayer-funded health insurance from nearly 80,000 retired state workers, university employees, lawmakers and judges. The measure, which was approved by a 74-43 vote and now moves to the Senate, takes aim at an $876 million annual subsidy that had been one of the most lucrative perks of public employment. … Indeed, the health-care decision represents the first of several painful fiscal votes lawmakers face this month, when they are expected to impose $2.7 billion worth of Medicaid cuts and dramatically trim state and possibly city pension benefits (McKinney and Maloney, 5/9).

Los Angeles Times: California Medical Spending Grew In 2009, But Rate Slowed
Californians spent less per person for health care in 2009 than residents of all but eight other states. But the total tab is mounting, according to a new report from the California HealthCare Foundation. Total spending for health care in California was $230 billion, nearly triple the level in 1991 (McMahon, 5/9).

The Wall Street Journal: Massachusetts Is Closer To Controlling Health Costs
Just days after the House introduced a long-awaited proposal that set a target growth rate for health spending and establish a new authority to oversee it, the Senate on Wednesday afternoon released its own bill that sets similar, albeit less-aggressive, goals (Levitz, 5/9).

The Associated Press: Military Stop Brings Health Care To Rural Alabama
An Air Force dentist pulls teeth in the oil-stained garage where the town's fire truck normally parks. A reservist in camouflage dispenses free medicine in the police department lobby. The doctoring Wednesday was part of a military program to provide free health care in poor areas of the South and whose latest mission came to one of Alabama's most impoverished regions, where the teams have treated more than 12,000 people in less than two weeks. The work helps fill a gap in an area with few doctors and a multitude of medical problems, many of them linked to the obesity that is rampant in the state (Reeves, 5/10).

Modern Healthcare: Calif. Report Highlights EHR Milestones
In a biennial report, the California Health Information Partnership and Services Organization, a not-for-profit group focused on electronic health-record adoption, said it has reached a number of milestones to expand EHRs in the state. The report on its first two years highlights significant milestones it has accomplished, such as developing the infrastructure that could help thousands of providers implement EHRs in their practices (Kutscher, 5/9).

The Lund Report (an Oregon news service): Cascade Comprehensive Care And Klamath County Commissioner Engage In Public Dispute
What started as a steady stream of e-mails between Cascade Comprehensive Care and Klamath County Commissioner Cheryl Hukill relating to the managed care organization's interest in becoming a coordinated care organization turned into a testy public spat (Waldroupe, 5/9).

Health Policy Solutions (a Colorado news service): Health Rights At The Core Of Dead Civil Unions Bill, Hickenlooper Calls Special Session
Colorado's civil unions bill -- which died after a vitriolic showdown on the House floor Tuesday night but will come back to life in a special session starting as soon as Friday -- would have had far-reaching health policy implications for families with same sex partners. ... So what was lost when the bill died Tuesday? Security and automatic recognition by medical institutions for gay and lesbian partners and parents will have to wait. And, experts on health insurance say a civil unions bill would have a dramatic effect on reducing the number of uninsured people in Colorado (Kerwin McCrimmon, 5/9).

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