KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

State Round-Up: Calif. Orders Review Of Insurers’ Planned Rate Hikes; S.D. Targets Young Smokers

The Los Angeles Times: "California health insurance regulators have ordered independent reviews of rate hikes being sought by four of the state's largest insurers, a move that could lead to smaller increases for consumers. The action comes after an outside analysis found significant errors in a recent rate filing by Anthem Blue Cross, leading it to cancel increases of as much as 39% for hundreds of thousands of policyholders. , to be announced Wednesday by The California Department of Insurance's findings are to be announced Wednesday" (Helfand, 6/16).

Bangor (Maine) Daily News: "A state analysis of the impact of the new federal health reform law indicates it will cost Maine in the near term, but will save the state tens of millions of dollars a year after it is fully implemented in 2014. … If the state adopts all of the changes assumed in the analysis, which was conducted by DHHS, the net savings to the state in 2014 is an estimated $31.8 million. The new health law makes major changes in the Medicaid system that provides health insurance coverage to the poor - including the working poor. The changes are funded through several changes in tax law and a requirement that drug companies rebate a larger percentage of the cost of drugs sold to the Medicaid program" (Leary, 6/16).

The (Oregon) Statesman Journal: "The Public Employees' Benefit Board made some minor trims Tuesday to state workers' 2011 health insurance benefits, instituting co-payments for sleep studies and imaging scans. But board members kicked down the road most of the tough decisions they will have to make to reconcile insurance rate increases to Gov. Ted Kulongoski's budget demands. The board voted unanimously to institute new $100 co-payments for sleep studies and medical imaging procedures such as MRIs, CT scans and PET scans." These changes could save about $3 million. "Left undecided for now is how to pay for insurance rate increases that are now about $34 million above the 5 percent increase set by Kulongoski as PEBB's target to help Oregon through the state's latest budget crisis" (Thompson, 6/16).

Yankton (S.D.) Daily Press: "Targeted education at youth and an increased awareness of available programs, such as the South Dakota QuitLine, have produced successful results in helping to reduce the number of smokers in South Dakota to an all-time low of 17.5 percent, according to a recent release from the South Dakota Department Of Health." But Yankton Tobacco Coalition chairperson and pulmonary and respiratory therapist Joan Hochstein "said that the highest growing segment of new smokers in the state are young children - some as young as fourth and fifth grade" (Marlette, 6/16).

The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer: "The concept is untested: Persuade dozens of established health-care companies to build showrooms for their hospital beds, MRI machines and ventilators. Then, lure medical trade shows to adjoining convention center space, where smaller companies can erect temporary exhibits, and provide cutting-edge meeting space for seminars and continuing education. Chicago developer MMPI proposes to do all of the above in Cleveland, and on Tuesday company officials offered their most detailed explanation to date as to why they think the nation needs a medical mart. MMPI, working with Cuyahoga County, plans to build a $425 million, taxpayer-financed mart. … But critics have long been skeptical of the project, questioning why anyone would come to Cleveland to pore over waiting-room chairs or imaging devices. Why would they not travel on a manufacturer's dime to the manufacturer's headquarters? One answer, MMPI officials said, is the Cleveland Clinic" (Johnston, 6/16).

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