KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Legislation Requires Hospitals To Disclose Prices In Wisconsin

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "The frustration of finding out what hospitals and doctors charge for common services -- from routine office visits to diagnostic tests and surgical procedures -- could soon get a lot easier in Wisconsin. The state Senate and Assembly have passed legislation that will require hospitals to disclose average prices for the 75 most common inpatient services and 75 most common outpatient services based on their contracts with commercial health plans. The legislation also requires the same information be disclosed for the 25 most common services provided by free-standing outpatient facilities, such as surgical and imaging centers, and by doctors" (Boulton, 3/4).

The Idaho Reporter: "Richard Armstrong, the director of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (DHW), said he's not certain that he can come up with the $42 million in savings to Medicaid that lawmakers are asking him to find. ... Lawmakers on the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee (JFAC) gave DHW and the governor the authority to find savings in Medicaid costs by reducing health care prices and benefits. ... Armstrong said he will do his best to find savings, but his hands are somewhat tied. ... Armstrong added that current federal rules prevent some service reductions, which could limit his search for savings. One issue proposed by lawmakers would be to institute waiting lists for non-essential health services" (Iverson-Long, 3/4).

The Kalamazoo Gazette: "A shortage of nurses statewide doesn't just mean more legwork for those on the front lines of patient care, it also has potentially deadly consequences, the head of Michigan's largest nurses union says. ... The state projects a shortfall of 18,000 nurses statewide by 2014, a shortage that prompted Gov. Jennifer Granholm in 2007 to establish the Michigan Nursing Corps, a $45 million initiative to train 3,000 new nurses by this year. To date, however, only 1,100 new nurses have been trained, as a result of steep cuts in funding for the program. The Michigan Nurses Association, meanwhile, is pushing for passage of legislation that would force hospitals to meet specific staffing levels for nurses. House Bill 4008, introduced last year by state Rep. Lesia Liss (D-Warren), a former emergency room nurse, would mandate that certain ratios of nurses to patients be met within three years. Hospitals are actively opposing the legislation" (Killian, 3/4).

Texas Tribune: "Baptist Memorial Retirement Community can't afford more financial strain. The only nonprofit senior care facility in San Angelo - already struggling to retain a quality nursing staff - faces major Medicare provider cuts in the health care reform bill on life support in Washington. But last month, Baptist Memorial and other senior and long-term care facilities learned they may be hit at home too: Medicaid provider rate cuts under consideration by the state's Health and Human Services Commission" (Garcia-Ditta, 3/5). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.