KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

State Roundup: Mass. Cost-Containment Law Could Harm Provider Credit Ratings

A selection of health policy stories from California, Massachusetts, Maine, Missouri, Florida, Georgia and Wisconsin.

San Francisco Chronicle: Cancer Drug Cost Equity Sought By Bill
Out-of-pocket costs for cancer drugs can vary dramatically depending on whether the medications are administered through pill form or intravenous infusion. Newer oral drugs, which can be taken at home and often have fewer side effects than older drugs, can cost patients thousands of dollars a month, while receiving chemotherapy through an IV in an infusion center typically amounts to a standard co-payment for an office visit. A bill sitting on the governor's desk would change the price inequity by prohibiting health insurers from charging patients more for oral anticancer drugs than for chemotherapy delivered through an IV (Colliver, 9/4).

Modern Healthcare: Mass. Law Could Hurt Providers' Credit: S&P
Health care providers that operate in Massachusetts could be at a disadvantage following the implementation of a new cost-containment law, Standard & Poor's Ratings Services said. The ratings agency noted that the law could put pressure on operating margins, which would in turn affect credit ratings. It added that the impact might not be felt for at least 18 months, but ultimately the extent of ratings hit will depend on how quickly and successfully health care providers can cut costs (Kutscher, 9/4).

California Watch: Report: Ban On Medical Care At Drug Rehab Centers Must End
State Senate investigators are calling on lawmakers to lift a ban on medical care in residential drug treatment facilities, pointing to dysfunction and deaths in facilities stymied by outdated laws. A report issued yesterday by the Senate Office of Oversight and Outcomes links lax oversight by the state Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs to the deaths of clients at private, inpatient drug treatment centers (Jewett, 9/5).

Kaiser Health News: Young People Pay Less For Health Coverage, Older People Pay More, Under Maine's 'Market-Based' Approach
Even as many states gear up for tougher insurance regulations under the federal health law, Maine lawmakers last year bucked the trend, loosening rules they blamed for some of the highest premiums in the nation (Appleby, 9/4).

Kansas City Star: Anti-Abortion Group Files Ethics Complaint Against Johnson County DA
The anti-abortion group Operation Rescue on Tuesday lodged an ethics complaint against Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe, alleging that he lied to a judge about key documents being destroyed in a criminal case against Planned Parenthood. The group accused Howe of lying when he told a judge that documents needed to make the case against Planned Parenthood were destroyed, leading to the unraveling of the case against the Overland Park-based abortion provider. The case against Planned Parenthood was started by Phill Kline as attorney general in 2003 and continued through his two years as Johnson County district attorney (Cooper, 9/5).

The Miami Herald: Female Leaders Object To Outsourcing Staff For Rape Treatment Center At Jackson Health System
A half-dozen Miami-Dade female leaders and dozens of supporters flooded a Jackson Health System board meeting Tuesday to object to executives' plans to explore the possibility of privatizing medical staffing in the emergency rooms and the rape treatment center. State Sen. Gwen Margolis decried the effort as "absolutely incredible. ... We are very, very, very concerned." Chief Executive Carlos Migoya announced last month that Jackson would seek bids from outside companies to see if it made sense financially for third-party medical staffs to handle emergency room operations at Jackson’s three hospitals and the Roxcy Bolton Rape Treatment Center (Dorschner, 9/4).

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Caretakers Confront Cut In Family Care Aid
Scott Visocky can be a handful. … Now, his caretakers are confronting a difficult decision. Faced with a 20 percent cut in the allocation in federal and state aid it receives from the managed care organization that oversees care for Scott Visocky, Creative Community Living Services may have to discharge him. It's a dilemma playing out across Wisconsin under Family Care -- a $1.5 billion program founded in 2000 that keeps seniors and people with disabilities in 57 Wisconsin counties out of expensive institutions -- and has sparked a class-action lawsuit on behalf of Visocky and 16 other Family Care clients (Levy, 9/4).

California Healthline: California First State To Get Funding For Seniors, Disabled Program
Federal health care reform includes a state plan option to provide home- and community-based services designed to keep seniors and persons with disabilities ... out of institutional care. States taking up that option receive a 6 percent increase in federal matching payments. Yesterday, California received federal approval to change its State Plan Amendment, opening the door to begin claiming Community First Choice federal funding. The change is worth $573 million to California over two years, according to state officials. … The funding is retroactive to December 2011 for much of the In-Home Supportive Services offered by the state (Gorn, 9/5).

California Healthline: Homegrown Program Addresses Inland Empire Doc Shortage
If all goes according to plan, college student Denise Barradas, 19, will be returning to the Coachella Valley in about 10 years as a full-fledged physician. Barradas is one of 120 students participating in a pipeline training program through UC-Riverside's School of Medicine. The program is designed to produce more homegrown primary care physicians and, over the long term, address the Inland Empire region's shortage of doctors (McSherry, 9/4).

Bloomberg: Video Dial-A-Doctor Seen Easing Shortage In Rural U.S.
Until recently, when children in Ware County, Georgia, needed to see a pediatrician or a specialist, getting to the nearest doctor could entail a four- hour drive up Interstate 75 to Atlanta. Now, there’s another option. As part of a state-wide initiative, the rural county has installed videoconferencing equipment at all 10 of its schools to give its 5,782 students one-on-one access to physicians…. The program places Georgia among a half-dozen U.S. states turning to telemedicine to address a shortage of doctors in rural areas, a gap the Obama administration has said is a serious health-care shortcoming (Flinn, 9/5).

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