KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Montana Hospitals To Get Increased Medicare Payments; Federal Funding For New Orleans Health Clinics Is Expiring

Billings Gazette: "Come this fall, several of Montana's hospitals will start benefitting financially from an obscure provision in the federal health reform bill that ups Medicare payments in 'frontier states.' It's worth up to $4.5 million a year for some of Montana's largest hospitals, which for years have been getting paid less for Medicare-covered patients than hospitals in urban areas. Hospitals in Billings, Missoula and Kalispell are the big beneficiaries. While the money may not seem like much in Montana's multibillion-dollar health industry, it's certainly helpful, hospital executives say - and it's part of the bill's overall effort to improve what many believe is an imperfect system of paying for health care" (Dennison, 7/15).

The Lancet: "A US federal grant of $100 million that runs out in September is threatening the future of a network of primary-care clinics in New Orleans, LA, that emerged after the destruction wrought by hurricane Katrina 5 years ago. ... [O]fficials are scrambling to find a new stream of funding for 25 health-care organisations, which have handled about 1.3 million visits over the past 3 years from the region's poorest residents. Officials say these primary-care providers, which range from the New Orleans Musicians' Clinic to the Lower Ninth Ward Clinic in the city neighbourhood destroyed by Katrina, could be a model for other US regions preparing to expand services under the Obama administration's health-care reforms" (Devi, 7/17).

The Los Angeles Times: "A Nevada prison's medical care - once described as displaying a 'shocking and callous disregard for human life' - would be upgraded and monitored under a proposed court settlement filed Thursday. An independent monitor would ensure that the remote maximum-security prison, which houses Nevada's death row inmates, was dispensing medication and treatment in a timely manner, creating treatment plans for chronically ill inmates and had qualified medical staff available at all times, according to the proposal. The monitor would inspect the 1,100-inmate Ely State Prison at least four times over two years" (Powers, 7/16).

The Charleston (W.Va.) Gazette: "West Virginia does not have enough primary care doctors to handle the expected influx of patients once the national health-care reform bill is fully enacted, members of a state health council said Thursday. … Staff shortages in the medical field are not a new concern in West Virginia, but have the potential to become a 'crisis' once the health-care bill is fully enacted in 2014, Walker said" (Nett, 7/15). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.