KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

States Seek Medicaid Waivers, Wrestle With Funding Cuts

Oregon and Utah have waiver requests pending. Meanwhile, in Tennessee, steep Medicaid cuts are leading to the sale of some hospitals. And, in Arizona, a judge will soon decide whether health coverage should be restored for some low-income state residents whose health insurance ceased as a result of budget cuts.

MarketWatch: Medicaid Cuts Force Hospitals Onto Auction Block
Tennessee is home to such giant hospital chains as HCA Holdings, Community Health Systems and LifePoint Hospitals. But aggressive Medicaid cuts by state politicians are eating into the bottom line at six Catholic Health Partners medical centers in Knoxville. So it's selling the group of hospitals, says James Gravell, Cincinnati-based Catholic's chief financial officer. Catholic's net margin already stands at a tenuous 2% to 2.5%, leaving little wiggle room, Gravell says. Most of its hospitals are centered in Ohio and serve such depressed Rust Belt cities as Youngstown and Toledo. Low Medicaid reimbursements already put a crimp in profits (Britt, 8/4). 

The Hill: Groups Urge Regulators To Reject Utah Medicaid Waiver Request
Medicaid advocates are urging federal regulators to reject Utah's request to pare down coverage for children and charge co-pays in the state-federal program for low-income Americans. The request would "remove important protections that help ensure low-income children have access to affordable care," says a letter sent Wednesday to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. .. The state proposed to set up a prioritized list when growth in per capita Medicaid spending outpaces the state budget (Pecquet, 8/3). 

The Lund Report: Oregon Prepares for Innovation Despite Deficit Reductions in Congress
Dr. Bruce Goldberg [director of the Oregon Health Authority] is confident the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will approve Oregon's waivers to transform our healthcare delivery system. ... Oregon is on the road to reduce its Medicaid spending trend by creating Coordinated Care Organizations (CCOs) that are expected to save $240 million in fiscal year 2012. ... The waivers being sought are not just for the dual eligible population – those people who receive both Medicare and Medicaid services – but the entire Oregon Health Plan population (Lund-Muzikant, 8/4). 

Arizona Republic: Ruling On AHCCCS Cuts' Legality May Come Soon
A Maricopa County Superior Court judge will likely decide in the next two weeks whether cuts to the state's Medicaid program are illegal and health coverage should be restored to low-income Arizonans already frozen out. ... [Judge Mark] Brain already denied a temporary restraining order to prevent an enrollment freeze in the AHCCCS program for childless adults, which is expected to eliminate 17,000 people from the rolls in the first month and 110,000 people by next July. The enrollment cap took effect July 8 (Reinhart, 8/4).

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