KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

State Highlights: Health Care Price Data And Transparency In N.Y. And Calif.; States Shift Tobacco Settlement Funds Away From Prevention

A selection of health policy stories from New York, California and North Carolina.

The New York Times: New York State Hospital Data Exposes Big Markups, and Odd Bargains
Just how expensive is your hospital? In New York, the answer may lie in a trove of hospital cost data newly posted online by the State Health Department. As part of an effort to make health care pricing more transparent, the state is naming hospitals and listing their median charges and costs for 1,400 conditions and procedures from 2009 to 2011. In 2011, prices ranged from the $8 bill at Benedictine Hospital in Kingston, N.Y., for treating a case of gastritis (cost: $2), to a $2.8 million charge for a blood disorder case at University Hospital of Brooklyn that cost it $918,462 (Bernstein, 12/9).

California Healthline: Forum Examines Price Transparency
Experts discussed the thorny issue of price transparency in health care -- including the possibility of seeking legislation to align hospital prices in California -- at a forum yesterday in Sacramento. … In 2011, the California Public Employees' Retirement System, the second largest buyer of health care in the country after the federal government, started a reference-pricing program that set standard prices for medical procedures, such as knee replacements, as well as some medications and services. According to a report last week from the Center for Studying Health System Change, CalPERS saved about $3 million over the past two years (Gorn, 12/9).

The New York Times: States Found To Shift Funds From Antismoking Efforts
Despite billions of dollars nationwide from tobacco taxes and settlements with manufacturers more than a decade ago, only two states are poised to meet federal recommendations for tobacco prevention spending during the 2014 fiscal year, an alliance of advocacy groups said in a report issued on Monday (Binder, 12/9).

Raleigh News & Observer: NC Auditor Says Medicaid Claims System Had More Than 3,200 Defects 
The state audit released Monday put a number to all the problems with a new Medicaid claims system that has frustrated hospitals, doctors and other health care providers for months. NC Tracks has had more than 3,200 defects since the state started using it July 1, according to the report, and more than 600 had not been fixed by Nov. 5 (Bonner, 12/9).

The Day (New London, Conn.): Self-Insured L+M Does Not Have To Notify Workers Of Coverage Loss 
Locked-out nurses and technicians at Lawrence + Memorial Hospital learned Monday that state law does not protect them from the immediate loss of their health care coverage. ... [Matt O'Connor, a spokesman for two AFT Connecticut union locals] said he wants to find out what kind of federal relief might be available to help union workers, many of whom are single parents, navigate the difficulty of being out of work and having to pay for their own medical insurance. The union previously announced a $20,000 defense fund to help members undergoing economic hardships (Howard, 12/10). 

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