KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

N.H. Hospitals Sue Over Medicaid Payments

As states seek to keep spending down for the health care program for low-income and disabled residents, they look to trim reimbursement rates and move more enrollees to private plans that control costs. Some of those efforts are covered today by a variety of news outlets.

The Associated Press/Boston Globe: 10 Hospitals Sue NH Over Medicaid Funding
Ten hospitals sued New Hampshire in federal court Monday over the state's payments to them for caring for Medicaid patients, claiming the inadequate reimbursement is jeopardizing the poor's access to health care. The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court, claims the state is violating the federal Medicaid Act by providing insufficient payment to them and their doctors to treat Medicaid patients. Medicaid is the state-federal health care program for the poor (Love, 7/25). 

Kaiser Health News: Louisiana Medicaid Moves To Managed Care
Louisiana health officials announced Monday that five health plans won bids to manage care for 892,000 low-income Medicaid patients - a first for the state that will be worth an estimated $2.2 billion in new revenues for the companies. The announcement is the latest step in a four-year march to managed care. ... The state chose plans that had "significant experience" running Medicaid plans in other states and that had succeeded in changing "the behavior of enrollees" and doctors to drive costs down, (Bruce Greenstein, secretary of the Department of Health and Hospitals) said (Weaver, 7/25).

The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune: Jindal Administration Announces Firms For Medicaid Privatization
The state health department today identified five companies to run a $2.2 billion privatization of the Louisiana Medicaid insurance program for low-income children and adults. The firms still must clear additional rounds of government evaluation, including by the federal agency responsible for the Medicaid program, before Medicaid recipients can join the new managed-care networks later this year. But the announcement is a key juncture for Gov. Bobby Jindal's signature health-care initiative (Barrow, 7/25). 

Marketplace: Arizona Takes A Stand On Medicaid
(Arizona) plans to save half a billion dollars by cutting the number of people getting healthcare through Medicaid. Arizona sent out a quarter million notices this month explaining the change to its Medicaid program. The state is not cutting coverage, it's freezing enrollment for a population most states don't cover -- childless adults. So, if recipients fails to renew their policy, or becomes ineligible because their earnings exceed the income threshold, they can't renew their policy (Atkinson and Vanek-Smith, 7/26). 

Georgia Health News: Navigant Gets Nod On Medicaid Redesign
Navigant Consulting is the apparent winner of a $3.3 million contract to study options for redesigning the state's Medicaid and PeachCare programs. The winning contractor will have the task of reviewing Georgia's current managed care program - which covers more than 1 million Medicaid and PeachCare for Kids beneficiaries - and those models developed by other states. The commissioner of the agency that runs Medicaid in Georgia, David Cook, has said he wants to take a comprehensive look at alternatives to the HMO-like structure launched by former Gov. Sonny Perdue (Miller, 7/25). 

Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Critics Seek To Stop Florida's Medicaid Handoff
As Florida nears the Aug. 1 deadline to submit to the federal government its blueprint for shifting 3 million Medicaid patients into managed care plans, opponents are busy asking the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to turn the state down flat. After Florida lawmakers voted to expand a controversial five-county pilot project statewide in hopes of stemming runaway Medicaid costs, health care providers and advocates knocked the idea at workshops across the state. The Elder Law Section of the Florida Bar especially criticized the intention to start with elderly long-term care patients, who were not even part of the pilot (Peters Smith, 7/25). 

Kansas Health Institute News: State Medicaid Officials Announce New Schedule For Digital Health Records Exchange
Kansas officials by now had expected to be making incentive payments to doctors and hospitals who had linked to a new digital health information exchange created for the state's Medicaid program. But ... [the] system and first payments won't be launched until at least the end of this year but more likely early in 2012, officials said, due to the state's delays in preparing its exchange plan for needed federal approval. Another hurdle has been the technical difficulties (Shields, 7/25).

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