State Roundup: Mass. Hospital Controversy, Iowa And Utah Consider Coverage Expansions
The Boston Globe: "The state appealed to the federal government yesterday to help Massachusetts hospitals that care for disproportionately high numbers of lower-income patients who receive state-sponsored health insurance. Governor Deval Patrick is asking the Obama administration for $216 million for Cambridge Health Alliance, the state's only public acute-care hospital, and another $115 million for six private hospitals with high Medicaid patient populations ... Patrick wants the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to adjust an agreement, known as a Medicaid waiver, that provides a major portion of the funding for the state's landmark health care law" (Cooney, 3/2).
The Washington Post: "The District's troubled HIV/AIDS Administration is scrambling to correct dozens of billing and record-keeping deficiencies discovered at Washington area medical clinics that draw federal AIDS funding. Federal monitors found last summer that some of the programs did not appear to be tracking fundamental information about AIDS patients." The report also said that "clinics might have paid their bills by improperly tapping federal funds set aside for low-income AIDS patients without insurance. If the lapses are not corrected, monitors could ask for the federal money back" (Somashekhar, Cenziper and Kinzie, 3/2).
Radio Iowa "The debate over health care reform that has gripped the nation's capitol was mimicked at the statehouse in Des Moines Monday afternoon as the Iowa Senate passed a bill that would make a few incremental changes in the state's health care delivery system. ... The bill as originally proposed would have allowed more low-income Iowa adults to enroll in 'IowaCares' - a government program that provides health care coverage to the uninsured, but the senate voted 28 to 22 to take that provision out of the bill, dramatically reducing its scope" (Henderson, 3/1).
The Des Moines Register reports that IowaCares "now serves about 35,000 uninsured adults who earn less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $22,000 for a single person. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Jack Hatch, originally would have raised the income limit to 300 percent of the poverty level. ... Sen. Tom Rielly, D-Oskaloosa, led the [successful] effort to strike the expansion. Rielly ... supported another section of the bill, which would allow patients to seek routine care at safety-net clinics around the state, and emergency care at their local hospitals. ... The bill also would set up an 'information exchange,' which would help Iowans get information about health-insurance policies and about quality of care at hospitals" (Leys, 3/2).
The Salt Lake Tribune: "With a key affirmative vote by Sen. Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan, legislation that aims to remove a five-year waiting period for legal immigrant children to receive access to low-income health care was sent to the Senate floor. Sen. Luz Robles, D-Salt Lake City, altered her SB44 to give it a starting date of July 1, 2012, noting this is a tough financial year to extend Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program services to the estimated 800 children who would become eligible. Last year, the federal government removed the five-year waiting period imposed on states, and 28 states have extended the low-income health benefits, Robles said" (Villasenor, 3/1).