KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

State Roundup: Medicaid Contractor Sues La. Over Canceled Deal

A selection of health policy stories from Louisiana, California, North Carolina, Georgia, Maryland and Minnesota.

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Medicaid Contractor Sues Jindal Administration In La., Over Scrapping Of $200M Deal
A Maryland-based company whose nearly $200 million Medicaid contract was canceled amid an ongoing federal investigation sued Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration Monday for terminating the deal (5/6).

Reuters: California High Court Affirms Local Right To Ban Medical Pot Shops
The California Supreme Court dealt a blow to the state's faltering medical-marijuana industry on Monday by ruling that local governments may outlaw dispensaries that sell the federally banned drug. The unanimous opinion, which comes as elected officials across the nation grapple with regulating a growing medical pot industry, upheld a ban the southern California city of Riverside enacted on pot shops in 2010 (Cohen, 5/6).

North Carolina Health News: DHHS Announces Additional Medicaid Shortfall
Medicaid will have a bigger shortfall this year than predicted, state health officials announced Thursday morning. In a press release, Department of Health and Human Services spokesman Ricky Diaz said the problem is a result of Medicaid forecasting during the administration of Gov. Bev Perdue that "overestimated the amount of federal receipts to North Carolina due to an error in the forecasting model" (Hoban, 5/3).

Georgia Health News: Phoebe Reduces Document Burden For Hospitals
Phoebe Putney Health System, facing a wave of protests over its subpoenas to Georgia hospitals, has pared back its request for industry financial information as it pursues its legal fight with the Federal Trade Commission. The Albany system, among other revisions, has reduced the "look-back" period for financial documents to three years from seven years requested in the subpoenas it recently sent to all hospitals in the state. But the reduction of documents requested may not be enough to satisfy hospital officials around the state (Miller, 5/6).

Baltimore Sun: Maryland Hospitals Oppose State Plan To Update Waiver
The Maryland Hospital Association has sent a letter to state health officials saying it will not support a proposal that would link medical spending to the state's economic growth. The state presented the proposal to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in March as part of an application to update its Medicare waiver, an agreement with the federal government unique to Maryland that allows the state to set uniform hospital rates (Walker, 5/6).

Sacramento Bee: CalPERS Seeking To Catch Errors, Fraud In Health Enrollment
CalPERS is moving to strike from government health care rolls tens of thousands of people it believes are mistakenly or fraudulently receiving benefits. The fund, which is the second-largest health care purchaser in the nation after the federal government, figured last year that removing an estimated 29,000 wrongly listed children, spouses and domestic partners of government employees would save approximately $40 million annually (Ortiz, 5/7).

Star Tribune: 'Care Guide' Show Another Face Of Health Reform
By offering a friendly ear -- but no medical advice -- they have been able to influence patients when MDs could not. Dr. Richard Adair insisted that they spell it out clearly when the jobs were first posted: No experience required. The idea was to hire people with no medical background, give them two weeks of training, and send them off to clinics to start seeing patients. Five years later, these so-called "care guides" are fixtures at more than two dozen Allina Health clinics in the Twin Cities, and groups around the country are calling to find out how the concept works (Lerner, 5/6).

California Healthline: Snickers, Seriousness Expected For Junk Food Bill
This week, an Assembly committee will take up a plan to change the foods offered in vending machines in state buildings. No more empty calories for state workers, according to the proposed law. AB 459 by Assembly member Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) is scheduled to be heard Wednesday in the Assembly Committee on Appropriations. A similar bill authored by Mitchell last year stalled in committee. This year's bill earned initial approval two weeks ago in the Business and Professions Committee. … AB 459 would phase healthier foods into vending machines in state buildings, with the goal of reaching 100% healthy foods in machines by 2017 (Gorn, 5/6).

California Healthline: Statewide Soda Tax Gaining Momentum In Calif. Legislature
Fueled by a recent survey showing growing public support, a penny-per-ounce tax on sugary drinks appears to be gaining traction in the California Legislature. Two Senate committees approved a bill by Sen. Bill Monning (D-Carmel) that would add a penny to every ounce of sugar-sweetened beverage sold in California. SB 622 has two goals: discourage consumption of sugary drinks and generate income to fund programs aimed at reducing childhood obesity. … Taxing sugary beverages is not a new idea in California. A similar bill was introduced but died in the Legislature in 2010. Last fall, voters in two California cities defeated ballot measures to create local soda taxes (Lauer, 5/6).

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