KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

State Highlights: No Relief In Sight For High Insurance Prices In Colo. Ski Towns

A selection of health policy stories from Colorado, South Dakota, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Florida and California.

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Rocky Mountain High Insurance Prices Rankle Ski Towns
Colorado Insurance Commissioner Margeurite Salazar has been getting an earful about high health insurance premiums in pockets of the state since prices she approved were unveiled Oct. 1. She is under increasing pressure to do something about them now that part of Colorado has been identified as having the most expensive premiums in the country (Whitney, 2/6).

Health News Colorado: Colorado Ski Towns Priciest In Nation For Insurance, No Help From Feds
Colorado’s mountain resort communities including Aspen, Vail and Summit County have the dubious distinction of being the most expensive places to buy health insurance in the country and no relief is on its way from either the state or federal government. U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Boulder, has been fighting for penalty waivers for Summit County residents who don’t buy health insurance this year. But he hasn’t succeeded in getting them yet. Polis sent a letter seeking help to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and received a response late last week indicating that the federal officials can do nothing since states set up geographic areas that determine insurance prices (McCrimmon, 2/6).

The Associated Press: SD Committee Supports Prenatal Care For Immigrants
The South Dakota House Health and Human Services Committee passed a measure Thursday that would provide prenatal care to low-income women who are in the country illegally. The bill would authorize an expansion of Medicaid services for pregnant women who didn't previously qualify because of their legal status (Hertel, 2/6).

The Boston Globe: Employers Face Jump In Health Insurance Costs
Bucking marketplace changes aimed at making health care more affordable, the cost “trend” driving what Massachusetts employers are charged for insurance is expected to climb 5 to 8 percent this year, insurance executives told an employer group Thursday. That is substantially higher than the state’s target of capping increases in total medical spending at 3.6 percent, a benchmark established last year to bring costs in line with the projected rate of annual economic growth in Massachusetts. But the insurance executives stressed that their forecast -- based on a formula combining the price of health care visits, tests, and procedures with the amount of care used by patients -- does not mean the state will fall short of its goal (Weisman, 2/7).

The CT Mirror: Home Care, Medicaid Pay, Inmate Health Care In Malloy Proposal
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's proposed budget includes money for more people to receive long-term care at home rather than in nursing homes; a new state-funded health care program for inmates in halfway houses; a health reform effort aimed at changing the way care is paid for and delivered; payment rates for primary care doctors to treat Medicaid patients, and housing and support services for people with serious mental illness. It does not include, as some had speculated, any breaks for hospitals, which have faced significant cuts in state funding during Malloy’s first three years in office (Becker, 2/6).

Health News Florida: Medicaid ‘Reform’ Pays Off: Study
Florida’s Medicaid 'reform' project, which required all beneficiaries in five counties to enroll in managed care, succeeded in curbing health inflation just as state officials had hoped, a new study reports. University of Florida researchers found that when they compared two of the pilot counties with two others over a four-year period, per-patient spending was lower in the pilot counties (Gentry, 2/6).

The Sacramento Bee: CalPERS Reopens Long-Term Care Insurance To New Applicants
CalPERS’ troubled long-term care insurance program has reopened to new applicants, ending a five-year hiatus marked by heavy financial losses and the announcement of a significant rate increase. The pension fund said Thursday it’s taking applications for a series of new insurance plans designed to be affordable. Long-term care pays for such things as stays in nursing and convalescent homes. Following years of hefty losses, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System closed the program to new applicants in 2008 (Kasler, 2/6).

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