KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

State Highlights: La. Grand Jury To Examine $200M Medicaid Contract

A selection of health policy stories from Louisiana, Oregon, Connecticut, Kansas, North Carolina, California, and New York.

Modern Healthcare: States Delaying, Dropping Controversial Dual-Eligible Pilot Program
More than half of the states that applied to participate in a controversial CMS pilot for dual-eligible beneficiaries have either dropped out or delayed implementation of their programs, according to health policy experts. Among the 26 states that applied to participate in the CMS Financial Alignment Initiative, which stems from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, six have dropped out or opted for different "customized" plans and nine have delayed their start dates (Daly, 5/23).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Grand Jury To Look Into $200M Medicaid Contract Awarded By Jindal Administration
The Louisiana attorney general's office said a special grand jury was selected Thursday to look into possible criminal activity involving a $200 million Medicaid contract awarded by Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration. Assistant Attorney General Butch Wilson told a judge that the grand jury was being empaneled in Baton Rouge as part of an ongoing investigation into the now-canceled contract for Client Network Services Inc., or CNSI (5/23).

Lund Report: Regence Posts Strongest Profits In Oregon's Top Insurers
Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon bolstered its position as the largest health insurance company in the state during the first three months of 2013. At the same, it also time delivered the strongest profits among large Oregon insurers. Regence BCBS total membership climbed by 18,800 lives during the first quarter of the year, to 491,702, and the insurer posted a $16.09 million profit, according to financial reports made available in the past week by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (Sherwood, 5/23).

Oregonian: Nonprofit Health Insurers Often Beat For-Profits, But Not In Portland: Study
Nonprofit health insurers often beat the premiums of their for-profit competitors and usually provide better protections on out-of-pocket spending, according to a recent survey of six cities around the country, including Portland. Interestingly, in Portland the distinction between nonprofits and for-profits blurs, however. The survey, conducted by the free consumer information website, HealthPocket.com, analyzed more than 2,000 quotes, focused on individual female nonsmokers. It adds numerical context to the debate among health care insiders over the transformation of some nonprofit insurers (Budnick, 5/23).

CT Mirror: Senate Adopts Measure To Coordinate Care For Mentally Ill Children
The state Senate unanimously adopted a measure Thursday aimed at improving coordination between a wide array of caregivers and support services for children with mental illness. The bill, crafted in response to last December's tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, lays the groundwork for a more comprehensive, coordinated response by mental health agencies, schools and emergency mobile psychiatric services (Phaneuf and Becker, 5/23).

Kansas Health Institute: Network Execs Squabble Over Issue Of Exchange Connectivity
Following a heated exchange between two network chief executives, the board regulating digital health record exchange in Kansas voted Wednesday to prohibit the networks from charging each other connectivity fees until at least 2015. In Kansas, the exchange of digital patient information began last summer via two private networks licensed by the quasi-governmental Kansas Health Information Exchange, Inc. (KHIE) (Cauthon, 5/23).

North Carolina Health News: Bill Addresses Doctors & The Death Penalty
It’s been almost seven years now since the state of North Carolina carried out an execution, as the procedure has been subject to political pressure by anti-death penalty groups and caught up in court cases. One of the barriers to carrying out executions has been legal wrangling over the role of doctors in the procedure (Hoban, 4/24).

California Healthline: Task Force To Examine Developmental Centers
Diana Dooley, secretary of the state's Health and Human Services agency, yesterday announced formation of a task force to take a hard look at the viability of closing four developmental centers in California. "I don't know if the four developmental centers we operate can all close," Dooley said. …  Developmental centers in California have come under fire recently -- with allegations of chronic abuse of patients, investigations by multiple government agencies and loss of federal certification. The state has taken a number of steps, particularly at Sonoma Developmental Center, to investigate possible abuses and improve safety of the centers' clients (Gorn, 5/23).

The New York World: No Restraint At Drug-Dosing New York Nursing Homes
A year after a federal health agency vowed to sharply reduce the use of powerful antipsychotic drugs in nursing homes, prescriptions have declined only modestly -- and dozens of New York City facilities have actually increased their use of the medications. In May 2012, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced an initiative to reduce antipsychotic use in nursing homes nationally 15 percent by the end of 2012 (Skinner, 5/23). 

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