KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Fla.’s Jackson Health System Struggles With Nursing Home And Hospital Losses; Advocates Push Marijuana Cultivation In Calif.

The Miami Herald: As the Jackson Health System's "governing board prepares to vote Monday on a proposed budget for 2011, its two money-losing nursing homes stand as a symbol for the challenges the system faces as it attempts to cut losses. Almost 100 of the 289 nursing home patients in the Jackson Health System are uninsured. Half of those are undocumented immigrants under age 50. Many are quadriplegic, on ventilators -- hugely expensive patients who can cost up to three times as much as regular nursing home residents. Despite these and other challenges, Jackson must present a balanced budget to the Miami-Dade County Commission" (Dorschner, 8/23).

Politico: "The nerve center for this year's highly publicized movement [in California] to legalize marijuana is in a neighborhood known as Oaksterdam. … A group of 20-somethings, many of them on summer break, spend their days calling voters around the state to explain the virtues of ending the 73-year marijuana prohibition from cannabis campaign headquarters. … Proposition 19 ... would allow anyone older than 21 to cultivate a small amount of marijuana for personal use. Cities would be able to regulate and tax sales. California is the first state to make such a bold push for decriminalizing the leafy drug, and it's a test case closely watched by states - including New York and Colorado - that also are eyeing more lenient stances on marijuana, in part to bring much-needed tax revenue to ease crushing deficits" (Hart, 8/21).

The Associated Press/MSN Money: "Legislation [in New York] that would require health insurers to cover screening, diagnosis and lifetime treatment of autism spectrum disorders has reached Gov. David Paterson's desk, but it falls short with some advocacy groups. The bill, approved unanimously by the Senate and Assembly, would require the state Department of Health to identify treatment and therapy options that are evidence-based, peer-reviewed and clinically proven. Regulations specifying what will be covered would have to be drafted within a year, in consultation with insurance companies and mental health and disabilities experts. Insurers could review individual coverage to confirm it's medically necessary" (Virtanen, 8/22).

Insurance Journal: "A new regulation that makes it harder for health insurance companies to drop individual policyholders in California is being challenged in court by an industry trade group. The California Department of Insurance's new regulations require insurers to investigate the medical histories of those seeking individual policies before accepting any premiums. About 1.1 million individual health policies are regulated by the department. The Association of California Life and Health Insurance Companies sued to stop the rules on Monday, accusing the state of acting 'in excess of its jurisdiction and authority' by creating regulation that conflicts with the state's insurance code" (Mohajer, 8/23).

The Associated Press/(N.J.) Star-Ledger: "Just two people in New Jersey will begin receiving coverage today under new plans created by federal health care reforms. NJ Protect plans are available to those who have been without insurance for at least six months and submit evidence of pre-existing health conditions. The state will receive $141 million in federal subsidies to cover claims that exceed the premiums paid by the beneficiaries" (8/23).

Albany (N.Y.) Times Union: "A growing insolvency crisis in workers' compensation insurance, born from years of lax oversight by state regulators, is threatening to leave thousands of small businesses owing $600 million or more to New York insurance pools they trusted to pay claims from workplace death and injury. Already, the little-publicized crisis has forced otherwise stable companies to lay off workers and curtail hiring plans during a critical point in the state's economic recovery. And at some point, taxpayers could be forced to pick up the tab for whatever can't be recovered through lawsuits or other means" (Anderson, 8/23). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.