KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

State Roundup: GOP Control Leads To Sweeping Changes; Budgets Still Lean

News outlets report on state health policy issues.

Stateline: In An Era Of One-Party Rule, Republicans Pass A Sweeping State Agenda
Republicans controlled all the levers of government in a staggering number of states this year - and it showed. Holding a lock on the governorship and both houses of the legislature in 20 states, GOP conservatives advanced an agenda that may change the face of state government for decades. They honored pledges not to raise taxes by enacting huge spending cuts to balance budgets in Florida and Texas. They put tough abortion limits back on the agenda, passing laws in Alabama, Kansas and Oklahoma. Most famously, Republicans in Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin put new restrictions on the rights of public employees, whose protests made national news for a month. (Gramlich, 6/13). 

The Associated Press: AP Data Show States' Budget Challenges Differ
The country is pulling out of the Great Recession, but an Associated Press review of 50 balance sheets shows state budgets ravaged by declining tax revenue and bank accounts far leaner than they were when the downturn took hold. Many face massive liabilities for years to come. Budget and other fiscal data compiled by the AP show that across the 50 states, the $734 billion in cumulative revenue available for the coming fiscal year has dropped by about $34 billion, or 5 percent, from the 2007-08 fiscal year, when the recession began (McCaffrey and Schelzig, 6/13).

The Connecticut Mirror: For Many With Disabilities, Life Is A Waiting List
The state is expanding the program, called Money Follows the Person, with hopes of helping 5,200 people move out of nursing homes by 2016. It's aimed at changing the way long-term care is provided in the state, to allow more people to receive care outside of institutions. Advocates for seniors and people with disabilities applaud the expansion, but say it only addresses part of the problem (Levin Becker, 6/13). 

Related, earlier KHN story: Despite Federal Help, States Struggle To Move People Out Of Nursing Homes (Galewitz, 4/22/10).

WBUR's CommonHealth blog: Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez: Make Massachusetts Patients Safer
This Tuesday, the Massachusetts legislature's Joint Committee on Public Health is slated to hold a hearing on 33 - count 'em, 33 - proposed bills on patient safety and quality of care. ... Here, Rep. Jeffrey Sánchez, the joint committee's House chair, writes a guest post about his own legislative offering, to be heard at the hearing along with the others (Goldberg, 6/10). 

Health News Florida: Screening Calims 'Misleading': FDA
Some Florida health-care providers who promote thermography as a screening test for breast cancer say they plan to continue, despite an official warning that there's no evidence it works. The Food and Drug Administration issued a warning last week that said thermography, which uses an infrared camera to measure skin-surface temperatures, is not a replacement for mammograms. … While few, if any, websites for Florida facilities say outright that thermograms are better at detecting cancer than mammograms, several facilities come close (Davis, 6/10).

New Orleans Times-Picayune: Governor Bobby Jindal's Wish List Is Hitting A Brick Wall In Legislature
With less than two weeks left before the Louisiana Legislature adjourns, much of Gov. Bobby Jindal's ambitious policy agenda lies in tatters as tension between the administration and lawmakers appears to be nearing a boiling point. The House has cut spending far below the governor's recommendations and made it harder to plug holes with "one-time money." ... the governor's signature health care initiative has had its financing cut (Moller and Anderson, 6/12).

New Orleans Times-Picayune: Louisiana Legislators Hear From More Than 100 People Wanting State Budget Cuts Restored
The state of Louisiana gives Robin Keleher, of Covington, $258 per month to help offset the costs of caring for her 27-year-old daughter, who has needed constant care since suffering a severe brain injury in a 2003 car accident. But that payment is now jeopardized by state budget cuts, which threaten to wipe out support subsidies that help more than 1,000 families across the state care for injured or disabled loved ones at home instead of putting them in institutions (Moller, 6/11). 

California Healthline: Fragmented Long-Term Care System Needs Help, Report Says
California's system of long-term care is fragmented, difficult to navigate for both patients and health care providers, expensive, outdated and in need of a makeover, according to a new report from the SCAN Foundation. The brief ... contends that the state's current system "was created one program at a time, resulting in a highly fragmented arrangement of services that focuses little on the individual's holistic needs but instead on the particulars of what each department or program provides and from where funding originates" (Lauer, 6/9). 

California Healthline: Lawsuit Filed As Two More ADHC Centers Close
It will not be a good day today at the Robertson Adult Day Health Care Center in Sacramento. "It's our last day. It's the day we're locking our doors," said Lyndsey Roush, program director at Robertson. Robertson will be the sixth ADHC center to shut down since March ... Monday, the Legislature is expected to vote on a budget that includes that $85 million for a new ADHC program. The governor may or may not veto (Gorn, 6/10).

Healthy Cal: Lawsuit Filed To Block Budget Cut
Defenders of a program that provides health care to keep low-income people with disabilities from being hospitalized or placed in nursing homes sued today to block the state from eliminating the program. The Adult Day Health Care program serves 35,000 people, including many older adults. It is a benefit provided through Medi-Cal, the subsidized health program financed by a combination of state and federal money (Weintraub, 6/10). 

Reuters: Anti-Abortion Efforts In States Hit Obstacle Of Own Making
In a strange twist of fate, the Hyde Amendment -- whose purpose was to deny federal funding for abortions -- has become a stumbling block in efforts to stop abortions altogether. ... This week lawmakers in Louisiana's state House effectively killed a bill that would have banned abortion outright. The author of that failed bill said lawmakers were put off by a state fiscal analysis that showed that $4.5 billion in federal funds could be at risk if the state criminalizes rape- and incest-related abortion, putting state law out of compliance with Hyde (Finn, 6/11).   

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