KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

State Highlights: Nation’s Older Population Strains Budgets In Northeast

A selection of health policy stories from Michigan, Alaska, Texas, Oregon and California.

The Washington Post: The Northeast Is Getting Older, And It’s Going To Cost Them
Most of the nation's oldest population is now clustered in the Northeast and growing rapidly, according to Census data, straining medical, housing and transportation budgets and forcing lawmakers to look for new approaches. And legislators and governors are reaching the conclusion that the way to pay for the elderly is to cater to the young (Wilson, 9/12).

Detroit Free Press: Detroit May End Health Care Coverage For Retirees Under 65, Replace It With $125 Monthly Stipends
Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr is considering a plan to replace current health care benefits for retirees under 65 with a stipend of $125 a month to buy coverage beginning next month from the state’s new health insurance exchange, city officials said on Wednesday. The city intends to help those retirees figure out the best health insurance plan offered under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Michigan’s insurance marketplace where the plans will be sold launches Oct. 1 and coverage is effective Jan. 1 (9/12).

Kaiser Health News: A Road To Health? Rural Alaska Town Argues For Access
The town of King Cove, Alaska is crowded onto a narrow spit of land, surrounded by ocean and volcanic mountains. It's an Aleut Native community of about 1,000 people, and for roughly a third of the year, weather closes its gravel air strip. When that happens, the only way residents can get to the nearest town, Cold Bay, is by boat -- two hours on choppy seas. So when an emergency call wakes up Bonita Babcock in the middle of the night, she first wants to know how bad the wind is blowing. Babcock is a community health aide and a lifelong resident of King Cove. Her job is to stabilize patients and get them to Cold Bay, where there is a year-round air strip and patients can get to the nearest hospital -- in Anchorage, 600 miles away Feidt, 9/11).

Dallas Morning News: Texas Trims Private Contractor's Screening Of Applications For Children's Health Coverage 
Texas has shifted screening of some poor children's applications for health coverage from a private contractor to state workers, smoothing internal processes before next month's launch of a state health insurance marketplace under Obamacare. The state's umbrella social services agency says it transferred the work to merge the two (9/11).

The Lund Report: Ore. Health Director Tries To Shift Cost Containment Talk Away From Insurance Division
Gov. John Kitzhaber tasked the Oregon Health Policy Board with four areas to hold down health care costs, including greater oversight of rate requests by insurance companies. But the state health director, Dr. Bruce Goldberg, downplayed rate review as a way of bringing down costs at Tuesday’s meeting of the policy board (Gray, 9/11).

The Lund Report: Pfizer, Eli Lilly and Genentech Pour Money Into State Elections
Nineteen drug companies have spent a combined half a million dollars since 2011 trying to influence elections and legislation, led by Pfizer, Eli Lilly and Genentech. Pfizer, known for Viagra, Zoloft and Xanax, is the world's largest drug company by revenue, and Eli Lilly is the world's largest manufacturer of psychiatric medications, such as Prozac (Gray, 9/11).

California Healthline: War Of Words Over Abortion Clinics Only Interruption In Quiet March Of Bill Passage
The Senate this week passed a bill to change building requirements for primary care clinics that provide abortions. AB 980 by Assembly member Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) was the only health-related legislation that generated much heat on the Senate floor. And it was over building codes. "This bill simply creates parity in building standards between primary care clinics that provide abortions and other primary care clinics," said Sen. Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), who presented the bill on the Senate floor. "This assures all clinics will be held to equal and appropriate standards” (Gorn, 9/11).

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