KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Roundup: Feds Cut N.Y. Medicaid Payments $1.2B; 93,000 Fewer Kids Enroll In CHIP In Pa.

Reuters: Federal Government Slashes New York's Medicaid Payments
Federal authorities have dramatically lowered the amount that New York state can claim from the federal government for certain medical services, costing the state an estimated $1.2 billion. The Center for Medicaid Services (CMS), the federal agency that administers the nation's medical insurance system for people on low incomes, cut the per-patient reimbursement rate for patients in developmental centers to $1,200 from $5,100 from April 1, according to CMS documents seen by Reuters (Krudy, 4/1).

Philadelphia Inquirer: 93,000 Fewer Kids Enrolled In CHIP Under Corbett
For years, the Philadelphia region has been among the best places for a child to get sick. Pennsylvania's Children's Health Insurance Program, dating to 1992, was a model for what Congress expanded to all the states five years later. New Jersey set one of the easiest income thresholds for SCHIP and has aggressively enrolled children into Medicaid as well. New Jersey still has a top reputation, with more than 25,000 children added to the public insurance rolls since July 1, 2011. It has won more than $50 million in federal "bonus" grants for its performance.There have been no bonuses for Pennsylvania. Since Gov. Corbett's first budget took effect in mid-2011, enrollment has dropped by 93,000 (Sapatkin, 4/2).

The Wall Street Journal: Lawmakers Back Fight to Maintain Miners' Benefits 
West Virginia's top lawmakers pledged at a rally Monday to ramp up pressure on Patriot Coal Corp. to continue providing health benefits to 23,000 retired coal miners and their dependents who could lose much of their coverage in bankruptcy court. U.S. Sens. Joe Manchin and Jay Rockefeller, and Rep. Nick Rahall, all Democrats, told several thousand gathered in the Charleston Civic Center that the retirees were entitled to keep receiving benefits, and that the company is breaking a contractual promise negotiated with the United Mine Workers of America to maintain benefits for life (Maher, 4/1).

Asbury Park (N.J.) Press/USA Today: Health Care Costs For Older Inmates Skyrocket 
Older prisoners are also the fastest growing segment of the U.S. prison population. There were an estimated 246,000 people over 50 behind bars last year, according to a 2012 American Civil Liberties Union report. The growing number of older prisoners like (Stephen) Thomas represents a potential fiscal time bomb for the state and nation: Elderly prisoners cost more because almost all expenses related to their health care must be borne by state tax dollars (Mikle, 3/30).

Georgia Health News: Coverage Switch Affects Many Georgia Seniors
More than 7,000 Medicare beneficiaries in Georgia are switching health plans after a Florida-based insurer was ordered to liquidate. All policies of Universal Health Care have been canceled. Last week, federal agents raided the St. Petersburg headquarters of Universal Health Care, after a bankruptcy court trustee alleged a "pattern of dishonesty or gross mismanagement" at the company, including "side deals" that benefited insiders, according to a Tampa Bay Times article. A judge placed the insolvent Medicare insurer into receivership a week prior to the FBI raid. About 800 Universal employees lost their jobs last week after the company shut down (Miller, 4/1). 

MPR News: Legislators Balk At $500M Request From Mayo To Aid Expansion
When Minnesota lawmakers return to the state Capitol on Tuesday to focus on a two-year budget, they will also weigh whether to approve the Mayo Clinic's request for $500 million to support its $3 billion expansion plan. Supporters of the project say state financing for roads, bridges, parking garages and other improvements would ensure that the hospital and clinic system cements its future in the Rochester area (Scheck, 4/2). 

MPR News: 2012 Health Care Spending Per Person Up 5%
Health care spending per person rose 5 percent in Minnesota last year, reports the Minnesota Council of Health Plans, the trade group representing the state's health insurers. HMOs are required to annually report their financial reports to the state. The Minnesota health plans reported total revenue of nearly $21 billion; with an operating profit of $120 million. That's a margin of about six-tenths of a percent. Part of the rise in total spending per person is due to increased costs for chemical dependency and mental health services; chiropractors and social workers -- all were up 15 percent, said Julie Brunner, the council's executive director (Stawicki, 4/1). 

Kansas City Star: Prime Healthcare Completes Hospital Purchases In Kansas City Area
A few hours after gaining Kansas regulatory clearance, Prime Healthcare Services on Monday said it completed its purchase of hospitals in Kansas City, Kan., and Leavenworth. The 400-bed Providence Medical Center and 80-bed St. John Hospital join 23 acute-care hospitals in the California-based Prime chain (4/1). 

CT Mirror: Attorneys Press For Change In Medical Malpractice Procedure
Medical malpractice laws are getting an airing at the Capitol today as the Judiciary Committee hears testimony on a proposed change to how cases against physicians come to court. Since 2005, a patient wanting to claim damages from a doctor for alleged negligence must have his or her case reviewed by a similar health care provider, who will certify whether the claim has merit. If the patient can't get what's known as a good faith certificate, the courts will dismiss the case before it gets to trial. Attorneys say the statute has a chilling effect on cases (Jones, 4/1).

Baltimore Sun: Bill To Increase Oversight Of Cosmetic Surgery Centers Making Late Push In Assembly
A bill to give health regulators more oversight of facilities like the now-closed Monarch Medspa in Timonium is making a late surge in the General Assembly after weeks of discussions among state and industry officials. The House of Delegates unanimously passed the legislation Monday afternoon. It needs to clear the Senate, including an extra procedural step, within the next week (Dance, 4/1). 

The Lund Report: Ore. House Bill 3000 Requires Children To Have Eyes Checked For School
Sen. Richard Devlin, D-Tualatin, as the co-chairman of the Joint Ways & Means Committee, presides over much of the budget and has to be well-versed on statistics and figures. But to show his support for House Bill 3000 -- which would require all Oregon children entering public schools to have a vision screening -- Devlin told the House Education Committee last week he didn't want to focus on statistics and reports, but wanted to tell a story (Gray, 4/1).

Modern Healthcare: Bill Would Offer Meaningful-Use Exemptions
A Republican congresswoman from Tennessee has introduced legislation that would exempt solo practitioners and physicians nearing retirement from the upcoming Medicare reimbursement cuts for physicians who do not meet meaningful-use requirements for electronic health-record systems under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Rep. Diane Lynn Black, a former nurse and member of the House Budget and Ways and Means committees, re-introduced her Electronic Health Records Improvement Act last month (Conn, 4/1). 

California Healthline: Mobile App Highlights Patient Advocate Site
Ratings of health plans' performance put together by the state Office of the Patient Advocate and newly displayed on its website are now accessible by mobile application. "This is the first app of this type nationally," said OPA director Amy Krause. "We hope this makes quality an important part of every doctor visit." At the heart of what makes the mobile app worthwhile, Krause said, is the rating system itself, which is based on information provided by the Department of Insurance. Patients can compare performance and quality factors among HMOs, PPOs and medical groups in California, both overall and within specific categories, such as how plans' providers handle diabetes prevention and treatment (Gorn, 4/1).

California Healthline: Changes Set Stage For 'Shakeout' Of Medical Suppliers, Services
Shifts in contracting practices -- part of the trickle-down effects of health care reform -- are going to change the landscape of medical equipment and service suppliers in California, stakeholders predict. ... Bob Achermann, executive director of the California Association of Medical Product Suppliers ... predicted the number of California businesses providing medical supplies and services may be cut in half over the next few years. Two changes are at the heart of the "thinning of the herd," as Achermann calls it. One is state-driven: California is shifting beneficiaries of Medi-Cal -- California's Medicaid program -- from fee-for-service to managed care. The second is a federally mandated change in the way Medicare contracts with suppliers (Lauer, 4/1).

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