KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

New York Cuts Drug Reimbursements, States Trim Tobacco Prevention Funding

Crain's New York Business: "Independent New York pharmacies say new state budget cuts will drive more drugstores out of business. Albany's deficit reduction plan calls for $18.5 million in savings from Medicaid and Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage (EPIC) pharmacy reimbursement rates. What made those cuts possible was a September federal rule that changed the definition of the Average Wholesale Price, the benchmark used to determine pharmacy reimbursement rates in New York. ... As a result, independent pharmacies will see an almost 4% cut in reimbursement for filling brand-name drug prescriptions for Medicaid, a collective $100 million annual hit, says the Pharmacists Society of the State of New York" (Benson, 12/8).

The Associated Press: "States cut funding for state tobacco prevention programs more than 15 percent this year, pushing it further than ever below federally recommended levels, according to a report that a coalition of public health groups is releasing Wednesday. The states will spend $567.5 million of their own money and $62 million in federal grants on programs to prevent tobacco use -- about 17 percent as much as the $3.7 billion the federal Centers for Disease Control recommends, the report says. Thirty-four states and the District of Columbia trimmed funding for such programs this year. New York cut the most at $25.2 million, or 31 percent, the report said" (Felberbaum, 12/9).

Chicago Tribune: "Skeptics in the mental health community are starting to wonder if the plan to close the Tinley Park Mental Health Center and replace it with a new psychiatric hospital may fall victim to the state's precarious economy. Private hospitals are being asked to sell beds to care for patients now housed at the 51-year-old center, stirring fears that the arrangement could become permanent if the new 100-bed facility is never built. Several hospitals say they aren't staffed or equipped to handle those needing long-term psychiatric care" (Schorsch, 12/9).

The Cleveland Plain Dealer: "In an effort to keep pace with a $1.2 billion expansion and growing number of patients, University Hospitals said Tuesday that it will add more than 550 jobs in the coming year and announced a new management structure. The region's second-largest system, which saw patient volumes increase even in a dismal economic year, is gaining market share and plans to use the staff to add more services for people downtown and in the suburbs. ... Since [UH Chief Executive Tom Zenty] began leading the system in 2003, UH has turned its finances around and is in the final stages of an aggressive growth plan called Vision 2010. The system reported $1.7 billion in total revenues last year and earned $103.7 million after expenses, according to its most recent federal tax filing. Fundraising increased from $50 million in 2007 to $69.7 million in 2008" (Tribble, 12/8).

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