KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

State Roundup: Ore. Gov. Suggests Malpractice Reform; Mass. Gov. Proposes Scrutiny Of Health Providers

A selection of health policy stories from Oregon, Massachusetts, Texas, Minnesota, California, Iowa and Kansas.

The Oregonian: John Kitzhaber Recommends Reform For Oregon Medical Malpractice Laws
The state can cut health care costs and reduce the number of medical-related lawsuits by requiring earlier notification of injuries as well as pretrial mediation, according to a recommendation Gov. John Kitzhaber issued Wednesday. The product of closed-door talks between representatives of interest groups including the Oregon Medical Association and the Oregon Trial Lawyers Association, Kitzhaber's recommendation now goes to a work group including lawmakers, a trial lawyer and doctor that begins public meetings next week (Budnick, 7/25).

Boston Globe: Patrick Proposes New Way To Target Providers That Abuse Market Power
As legislative leaders go down to the wire negotiating a major health care cost-control bill, Governor Deval Patrick has proposed a new approach for targeting large, expensive hospitals and doctors groups that may be driving up fees by abusing their market power. The governor's plan requires the administration to conduct a "cost and market impact review" of any medical provider it suspects is engaging in or plans to engage in anticompetitive behavior (Kowalczyk, 7/25).

Texas Tribune: Texas Has Offered HPV Vaccine For Years
Gov. Rick Perry's failed 2007 effort to mandate that girls in Texas be inoculated against a cancer-causing, sexually transmitted disease may have haunted him on the presidential campaign trail, but health providers say the state and federal governments' ongoing efforts to keep the HPV vaccine available to poor children for free is preventing thousands statewide from suffering the long-term effects of the STD. Though the Legislature shot down Perry’s executive order requiring 12-year-old girls to be vaccinated with Gardasil to prevent the transmission of human papillomavirus (HPV), the Department of State Health Services' Texas Vaccines for Children Program began offering the vaccination in February 2007 (Tan, 7/25).

The Lund Report: Tribal Health Advocates Worry About New CCO System
Health care advocates are concerned that American Indians who choose not to participate in a coordinated care organization (CCO) will have difficulty getting access to specialty care. On August 1, CCOs begin integrating physical, dental and mental health care for about 650,000 people who qualify for Medicaid (Rendleman, 7/25).

CQ Healthbeat: Dentists' Studies Question Costs Of New Mid-Level Dental Providers
Some states are considering whether to license these alternatives to dentists as one way of making it easier for poor people to get better oral health care, but dentists have strongly resisted the idea. The studies, commissioned by the dentists and conducted by ECG Management Consultants, examined the costs and expenses that would be associated with authorizing mid-level providers in five states: Connecticut, Kansas, Maine, New Hampshire and Washington. The state-by-state studies projected that under most scenarios, the new providers would be operating at a net loss once their training costs, operation costs, salaries, academic debt and projected revenue were taken into account (Norman, 7/25).

(St. Paul) Pioneer Press: Report Says Minnesota Health Costs Moderated Through 2010
Health cost inflation moderated significantly in Minnesota during 2010, but a category of expenses called "non-medical" costs jumped by nearly 13 percent. Those were two key findings from a Minnesota Department of Health report released earlier this month that found total health care spending grew by 2.2 percent from 2009 to 2010, to $37.7 billion. That was the smallest annual rate of increase in more than 10 years and likely stemmed from decreased demand for medical services due to the slow economy (Snowbeck, 7/25).

The Lund Report: Advocates Gain Traction In Insurance Coverage For Autism
Advocates have strengthened their hand in seeking additional insurance coverage for applied behavioral analysis (ABA) treatment. Throughout the West Coast, they've achieved victories in the court system and, in Oregon, are focusing their attention on legislative changes. … A partial settlement has been reached in Washington involving a class of public employee members with autism who filed legal action against the Washington State Health Care Authority. They're seeking coverage for ABA therapy recommended by an autism expert that deals with a person's behavior impacting their development, communication or adjustment. Coverage would also include therapy in natural settings, such as a child's home or community by assistants working under the supervision of licensed providers (Jorgensen, 7/24).

California Healthline: 'Where You Live Matters' To Your Health
Health care numbers are interesting to Angela Russell but they only become important when you remember what they represent, Russell said. "Data rankings are a starting point, not an endpoint, and the key is using that information to take action," Russell said. "You have to remember, this data is alive. It represents families and individuals and communities." Russell is the engagement lead for the County Health Rankings and Roadmaps program at the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. Yesterday, she was in the Capitol Building to talk about using federal and state health care data to make policy changes at the local level (Gorn, 7/26).

Des Moines Register: 27% Of Iowa Adults Have Pre-Existing Health Problems, National Group Says
Families USA, which supports the Affordable Care Act, used federal health and Census data to calculate how many people have pre-existing health conditions that could cause denials if they ever applied for individual policies. The group calculated that 27 percent of non-elderly Iowa adults have such conditions. That's a bit higher than the 25 percent national average (Leys, 7/25). 

Kansas Health Institute News: Report: More Than 565,000 Kansas Adults Have Pre-Existing Conditions
More than 565,000 Kansans between the ages of 19 and 65 have one or more pre-existing medical conditions that could lead to their being denied health insurance coverage between now and Jan. 1, 2014. According to a Families USA report, "Worry No More: Kansans with Pre-Existing Conditions Are Protected by the Health Care Law," released Wednesday, the 10 most common pre-existing conditions were mental illness, obesity, lung disease, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, liver disease, angina, and substance abuse. The report was designed to call attention to consumer protections in the Affordable Care Act (Ranney, 7/25).

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