KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

State Highlights: Tenn. May Send Addicted Moms To Jail; Hawaii Autism Coverage; Florida Medical Marijuana

A selection of health policy stories from Tennessee, Hawaii, Florida, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Kansas.

NPR: Tennessee Bill Could Send Addicted Moms To Jail
Pregnant women addicted to illegal narcotics or prescription pain pills could soon be jailed in Tennessee under a bill awaiting the governor's signature. The strict proposal enjoys bipartisan support — despite objections from doctors (Farmer, 4/21). 

The Associated Press: Hawaii Considers Mandated Autism Care Coverage 
Hawaii lawmakers continue to work out the details of Senate Bill 2054, which would require insurance companies to cover applied behavioral analysis and other treatment options. Applied behavioral analysis is widely viewed as the most effective treatment for autism spectrum disorders. But the Hawaii Medical Services Association, one of the state's largest insurance companies, opposed the bill, saying it would be too expensive to provide the services (Bussewitz, 4/21).

The Miami Herald: Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s Medical Czar Opposes Marijuana Bill 
Efforts to legalize a specific strain of marijuana to help children with intractable epilepsy faced a new hurdle Monday as the governor’s chief medical advisor said he opposed the bill because it will allow untested drugs into the market, raising the specter that the governor may veto the bill (Klas, 4/21).

Modern Healthcare: Healthways To Pay $9.4 Million To Minn. Blues Over Telehealth Fraud
Tennessee-based health services firm Healthways has agreed to pay $9.4 million to Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota to resolve a contract dispute, the company announced last week. Under the settlement, Healthways agrees to pay BCBSMN a total of $4 million by the end of this month and a second payment of $5.5 million in January 2015. The settlement amount will be incurred as a charge within Healthways' first quarter 2014 results, the company said in a statement (Johnson, 4/21).

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Wisconsin Nursing Homes Are Becoming More Home Than Nursing
Gerri Bussey loves to sleep in, and she does so nearly every day. She loves a big breakfast. Once a week she takes a bubble bath in style with a glass of wine. The vivacious 79-year-old isn't on holiday. She's been living at an Oconomowoc nursing home, Shorehaven, rehabilitating from a fall that happened a few months ago. Far from the traditional nursing home with sterile hallways and fluorescent lights, Shorehaven is one of a new breed popping up in the state, and a sign that life for Wisconsin's most vulnerable residents is transforming (Mulvany, 4/21).

The Pioneer Press: Dane County (Wis.) Dementia Program Could Expand Statewide
When Arkady Grinblat would try to go outside of his assisted-living facility, an alarm would go off. Staff told him he couldn't walk into other people's rooms. ... Like other people with behavior problems related to dementia, he risked being sent to Mendota Mental Health Institute. But Dane County's Dementia Support Team arranged for Grinblat to move to a smaller assisted-living facility instead, paying to hire an extra caregiver and put up a fence so Grinblat could get fresh air. The Dementia Support Team, formed in 2009 after a dementia patient from the county lingered at Mendota for more than two years, could expand through a state effort to reform dementia services (Wahlberg, 4/21).

The Associated Press:  Gov. Walker Announces Plan To Expand Family Care Program
Wisconsin health officials are ready to begin expanding the Family Care program that provides in-home care to seven additional counties, but it could take as long as three years to get things ramped up. Gov. Scott Walker said Monday his administration is ready to start work on extending Family Care to Brown, Door, Kewaunee, Marinette, Menominee, Oconto and Shawano counties. The expansion would include 2,434 people who use similar county-based care programs, 977 people on waiting lists for county services and anyone else who resides in the counties and meets the eligibility requirements (Richmond, 4/21).

Kansas Health Institute: Waitlist Problems Delay Services For About 400 Disabled Kansans
State officials say they are prepared to move almost 400 physically disabled Kansans off the waitlist for Medicaid-funded, in-home services but cannot, chiefly because they’re having problems contacting the right people. And they say they have concluded the number of people awaiting services actually might be significantly less than they previously thought (Ranney, 4/21).

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