KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

State Highlights: N.Y. Insurer Will Reinstate Young Adult Coverage

A selection of health policy stories from New York, California, Virginia, South Carolina, Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Minnesota, Michigan, Georgia and Colorado.

The Associated Press/Wall Street Journal: NY Insurer Agrees To Reinstate Offspring Coverage
A New York insurer has agreed to reinstate health coverage for up to 8,300 young adults who were dropped from their parents' policies before they turned 30. Under an agreement with the state attorney general, EmblemHealth Inc. also said it will pay approximately 175 claims for about $90,000 for unreimbursed medical treatment. While federal law authorizes keeping children on their parents' health insurance until they turn 26, New York requires insurers to offer that continuing coverage until age 30. The agreement signed this week also requires EmblemHealth to pay the attorney general $100,000 as a civil penalty (1/29).

The Washington Post: San Francisco Thinks Obamacare Can Cut Costs, Crime Rates
Across the country, an estimated 90 percent of those in county jails don’t have health insurance. About the same number would qualify for subsidized health-care coverage under the Affordable Care Act. And those prisoners are more susceptible to chronic illnesses that, without treatment once they are freed, cost millions in emergency room visits. Now, the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department thinks it can help cut costs -- and reduce recidivism rates -- by signing up many of the 31,000 people it books in jail every year for coverage under Obamacare (Wilson, 1/29).

The Washington Post: Virginia House Panel Backs Proposal On Finding Psychiatric Beds
In Virginia, a proposal to give mental health workers more time to find beds for people who need immediate psychiatric care cleared a House subcommittee Wednesday, as lawmakers move swiftly to respond to an attack on Sen. R. Creigh Deeds by his son. A House Courts of Justice subcommittee cleared several proposals, including one to extend the current time limit of six hours to find psychiatric beds for individuals in crisis by two hours, and if a bed cannot be found by that deadline, to require state facilities to provide a bed of last resort (Shin, 1/29). 

The New York Times: New York State Recommends Expanding License Of Health Agency With Checkered Past
It was a medical scheme that shocked the public conscience when it came to light in 2001: Two dozen mentally ill residents of a Queens adult home were forced to have unnecessary prostate surgery that generated tens of thousands of dollars in government fees (Bernstein, 1/29).

The Associated Press: S.C. Medicaid Agency Posts Hospitals Financial Data
South Carolina's Medicaid agency on Monday introduced an easy-to-navigate website showing the financial data of the state's 60 hospitals that will eventually allow patients to comparison shop for health care. The agency's multi-stage project is aimed at bringing transparency to healthcare costs, ultimately driving costs down, by posting data online so that it's easy to access and interpret, said Director Tony Keck (1/29).

The CT Mirror: Free Dental Clinic Coming To Hartford After All
Although it seemed unlikely months ago, the Connecticut Mission of Mercy free dental clinic is coming to Hartford this spring, with plans to provide free care to more than 2,200 people. Organizers had tried in the past to hold a clinic in Hartford but couldn’t find a venue they could afford. But after news coverage and intervention from city officials and a U.S. senator, clinic organizers reached an agreement with the publicly owned XL Center to rent the facility at a discounted rate (Becker, 1/29).

Health News Florida: Scott Wants More Cancer Centers
Cancer hospitals vying to earn National Cancer Institute designation would get $60 million next year under a budget proposal being released by Florida Gov. Rick Scott today. Scott, who is running for a second term as governor, made Tampa’s Moffitt Cancer Center the final stop of his “It’s Your Money Tax Cut Budget” tour on Tuesday (Shedden, 1/29).

Kansas Health Institute: Corrections Department Plan Would Help County Jails Gain Access To Medicaid
The Kansas Department of Corrections is working with local law enforcement officials on a plan that would help county jail keepers bill Medicaid for a portion of their inmates' health care costs. The move could save Kansas jails between $1.2 million and $2.4 million a year, said Viola Riggin, director of health care services at the Kansas Department of Corrections (Ranney, 1/29).

Minnesota Public Radio: 'Structural Racism' Blamed For Some Of State's Severe Health Disparities
Minnesota's infant mortality rate is among the best in the country. Dig a little deeper, though, and the data reveal African-American babies are twice as likely as white babies to die in their first year. That disparity is the worst in the country. It's one of many examples where Minnesota's overall good health is not shared equally by all (Benson and Yuen, 1/30).

Detroit News: Detroit Deadliest City For Kids Due To Prematurity, Violence
Children are dying in Detroit at a greater rate than in any U.S. city its size or larger, a Detroit News study shows. Mostly, they die of conditions resulting from prematurity — the top killer of Detroit kids — and violence, which ranks second. “This is a public health emergency in the city of Detroit,” said Dr. Herman Gray, executive vice president of pediatric health services for the Detroit Medical Center and former president of DMC Children’s Hospital of Michigan. “We are losing our future in really socially unacceptable ways” (Bouffard, 1/30).

Georgia Health News: Flight Plan: State Wants Air Ambulances For Rural Region
Gov. Nathan Deal’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2015 contains a surprising health care item: $13 million to fund air ambulance service in 14 southwest Georgia counties. If the funding is approved by the General Assembly, it will the first time the state has ever operated an ambulance service -- either by air or by ground. In Georgia, trauma transport typically is handled by counties, hospitals or private emergency medical services (EMS) companies. Currently, all air ambulance service in the state is provided by private carriers (Craig, 1/29).

Health News Colorado: Remote Care, Monopolies And Pricy Injuries Hike Resort, Rural Health Costs
Blame the helicopters. One of Colorado’s least populated counties leads the state in health costs per person, according to new 2012 data from Colorado’s All Payer Claims Database (APCD). Mineral County in southern Colorado is home to just one town, Creede. It also has beautiful public lands that were ravaged by wildfires last summer and a population of about 700 that skews older and therefore sometimes sicker. Geographically isolated by canyons and mountain passes, the people of Mineral County face long trips if they need to be hospitalized (McCrimmon, 1/29).

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.