KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

State Roundup: Texas Overhauls Hospital Payments

The Boston Globe: Advocates Ask Judge To Order Full Benefits For Immigrants
Advocates today asked a single justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court to declare the state's exclusion of thousands of legal immigrants from subsidized health coverage unconstitutional. The motion comes two weeks after the full court ruled that the exclusion likely violates the state's constitution. It also comes just days after the state Senate released its proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year without including any money for expanding services to the immigrants (Lazar, 5/23). 

The Arizona Republic: Arizona Supreme Court Urged To Reject Cutbacks In Medicaid
The Arizona Supreme Court should stop Gov. Jan Brewer's plan to eliminate health coverage for thousands of low-income Arizonans because it violates the will of voters and the state Constitution, attorneys for Medicaid enrollees said in a special action filed Monday. Three public-interest law groups argue in the lawsuit filed with the high court that Brewer and lawmakers have no legal right to freeze enrollment or terminate coverage for adults who earn less than the federal poverty level, a group that voters in 2000 agreed should have health insurance (Reinhart, 5/24). 

The Times-Picayune: Borrowing Authority For New News Orleans Teaching Hospital Stripped By House Committee
A House committee approved a $4.8 billion construction budget Monday, but not before stripping the bill of $900 million in borrowing authority for the planned New Orleans teaching hospital. The money had been included in House Bill 2, which finances an array of state and local construction projects. ... Multiple studies have been done in recent years looking at the potential cost and benefits of a new hospital, which would serve as a training ground for medical students. ... The most recent study anticipated that the hospital will require annual state subsidies of at least $72.5 million once it's up and running in 2015 (Moller, 5/23). 

California Healthline: Closure Of ADHC Centers May Be Expensive
It's budget week at the Capitol. A slew of legislative hearings will deal with the newest wave of cuts proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown (D), most of which are expected to be approved. ... In the case of adult day health care services, advocates say, the shift to higher-expense services has already started, and the state may not save any money, now or in the future, by cutting the $85 million needed to keep the program alive (Gorn, 5/23). 

The Texas Tribune: Texas Hospitals Face Dramatic Payment Overhaul
The budget that state lawmakers are poised to accept attempts to eliminate wide variations in what hospitals are paid by Medicaid for performing the same procedures on similarly sick patients - a sweeping change in how Texas hospitals are funded. In a controversial move, the state budget sets the same base payment rate - called a standard dollar amount, or SDA - for most Texas hospitals starting Sept. 1. (Today, all hospitals have their own unique payment rate, determined by a complex formula that weighs a variety of factors.) The budget allows for rate add-ons for hospitals that perform certain high-cost functions (Ramshaw, 5/23).

The Texas Tribune: Family Practice Residencies Take Big Budget Hit
Under cuts to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, state funding for the family practice residency program will drop more than 70 percent, from $21.2 million in the current biennium to $5.6 million in 2012-13 - a cut of roughly $10,000 per student. The primary care residency program will be zeroed out entirely. These cuts come on top of 10 percent formula funding cuts for medical schools (Ramshaw, 5/23). 

The Texas Tribune: Family Planning Programs Face Steep Cuts, Elimination
The state's family planning budget is getting increasingly thin. ... budget negotiators will likely adopt a 2012-13 family planning budget that is "pretty close" to the House's proposal - $37 million for low-income women under the Department of State Health Services - compared to the $100 million proposed by the Senate. Meanwhile, Sen. Bob Deuell, R-Greenville, and Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, agree that the Medicaid Women's Health Program, operated under the Health and Human Services Commission with a 9 to 1 federal match, is likely dead (Ramshaw, Aaronson and Tan, 5/23).

Des Moines Register: City Of Des Moines Will Go Back To Self Insurance For Employee Health Plans
The city of Des Moines will move to a self insurance system for employee health plans in hopes the change will eventually net $1 million or more in annual savings. City Council members endorsed the switch Monday night on a 7-0 vote, working on advice from city administrators it would help control ever rising health insurance costs and build more predictability into a big piece of the municipal budget that runs taxpayers about $26 million a year (Pulliam, 5/23).

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