KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

States Act On Hospital Readmissions, Brace For Insurance Rate Hikes And Advance Health Legislation

The Philadelphia Inquirer: "[M]ore than 200 area hospital administrators, doctors, nurses, and others met with national experts at the Union League in Center City to learn about strategies to reduce hospital readmissions in the five-county Philadelphia area. One approach is to use nurses to proactively treat the highest-risk patients - older people with multiple chronic illnesses - who cost the most money." The plan, Preventing Avoidable Episodes or PAVE, has the goal to eliminate 10 percent of readmissions over 18 months. "That could result in substantial savings for the broader health system. In 2008, the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council reported, there were 57,852 readmissions within 30 days of initial discharge, leading to $2.5 billion in hospital charges. Of those, more than 22,000 were related to complications of care and infections. Those second hospitalizations led to bills totaling more than $1 billion" (Goldstein, 5/27). 

Los Angeles Times: "Small businesses in California are being hit this year with double-digit hikes in health insurance costs that could hurt the state's economic recovery as companies curtail plans for hiring and expansion to pay their insurance bills." Five insurers who cover the small business market are raising rates between 12 and 23 percent. "Economists and small-business advocates worry that insurance costs - on top of taxes and rising wages - will hamper the ability of small firms to expand and scare away new small companies" (Helfand, 5/26).

The Associated Press: In Oklahoma, Gov. Brad Henry vetoed a bill that would limit when private insurers can cover abortion.  "The bill includes exceptions for cases of rape, incest or to prevent the death of the mother. Coverage for abortions could be obtained through a separate supplemental policy. The bill is meant to prevent state insurance exchanges, created under the new federal health care law, from covering most abortions, said state Rep. Skye McNiel, R-Bristow. But it also extends the ban to health insurance plans outside state exchanges that operate within Oklahoma." A Republican-controlled legislature has overridden three vetoes on other anti-abortion legislation this year and looks poised to do it again as the bill passed with veto-proof majorities in both chambers (Murphy, 5/27). 

Denver Business Journal: In Colorado, Gov. Bill Ritter signed eight health care bills into law Wednesday. The bills included one to mandate that small- and individual-group policies cover contraception and pregnancy and another setting up a "reward system for Coloradans who report Medicaid fraud." Other bills included the establishment of an advisory committee to make recommendations to start a all-payer claims database (Sealover, 5/26).

Health News Florida: The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry is maintaining that the method of sedation they use for children is safe despite four publicized deaths - as well as three in Florida - involving children sedated for dental procedures. "The Academy has had guidelines for 25 years on how children should be sedated. While it says pediatric sedation is safe if carried out properly, dentists say it can be deadly if the drugs are excessive, interact with other medications or are given to a child with an unknown, underlying medical condition" (Melone, 5/26). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.