KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

State Roundup: N.Y.’s Retiree Health Benefits Crisis; Colorado Referendum

The New York Times: "The cities, counties and authorities of New York have promised more than $200 billion worth of health benefits to their retirees while setting aside almost nothing, putting the public work force on a collision course with the taxpayers who are expected to foot the bill. … The total cost appears in a report to be issued on Wednesday by the Empire Center for New York State Policy, a research organization that studies fiscal policy. It does not suggest that New York must somehow come up with $200 billion right away. But the report casts serious doubt over whether medical benefits for New York's retirees will be sustainable" (Walsh, 10/12).

Bloomberg Businessweek/The Associated Press: "West Virginia hospitals face uncertainty and hefty upfront spending as the federal health care overhaul begins to unfold, the head of their state association told lawmakers Monday. Joseph Letnaunchyn, president of the hospital group, also warned of short-term drops in government reimbursement payments to hospitals, as scheduled under the new law" (Messina, 10/12).

The Denver Post: "Backers of Amendment 63, which would change Colorado's constitution to make health care choice a right, hope voters in an anti-big-government mood will see the initiative that way and vote 'yes.' Opponents are counting on amendment-weary voters' taking a closer look and rejecting an amendment that they view as so murky in its wording that it would set off a flurry of lawsuits and would ultimately increase costs for all Coloradans. Amendment 63 is designed to diminish the effects of federal health care reform in Colorado by prohibiting any mandates that require people to have health insurance" (Lofholm, 10/13).

Des Moines Register: "Seventy-five percent of older Iowans who are likely voters believe hospitals should be required to publicly report how many serious preventable medical errors have happened in their facilities. Sixty percent support requiring banks to report suspected financial abuse of elderly or disabled Iowans. And when it comes to priorities for state tax money, a majority of likely-voter, older Iowans want to spend more for education for kindergarten through high school students, maintain spending for public safety and aid to local governments, and not cut spending in five other areas" (Jacobs, 10/13).

Chicago Tribune: "Reacting to a Tribune report that juveniles were allegedly sexually assaulted in Chicago-area psychiatric hospitals, top state officials met last week to begin hammering out legislative reforms aimed at preventing the abuse. ... preliminary talks centered on beefing up the number of health inspectors overseeing hospitals and providing them with more authority to investigate abuse allegations and to levy fines for patient safety breaches" (Jackson and Marx, 10/11).

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