KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

State News: Kansas Facing Medicaid Shortfall; Indiana To Expand Coverage For Low-Income Adults; Maryland’s Medical Home Experiment

Bloomberg Businessweek: Sen. Sam Brownback, the Kansas Republican who is running for governor, "faced new questions Thursday about joining fellow congressional Republicans in opposing legislation that would prop up state budgets as his Democratic opponent in the race for governor criticized him. Brownback said he is against a plan that includes extra Medicaid dollars for states because it wasn't drafted in a fiscally responsible way. Kansas' share is $131 million, and its current $13.7 billion budget won't balance without the money, which covers health care for the poor and disabled" (Hanna, 8/5).

Chicago Tribune: "Indiana wants to expand its innovative health plan for low-income adults despite Gov. Mitch Daniels' statements that Medicaid expansion under the federal health care overhaul would kill the state program, a document shows. Anne Murphy, secretary of the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, sent a letter to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services saying the Healthy Indiana Plan 'provides the natural vehicle to provide coverage to Hoosiers that will become Medicaid eligible' in 2014 under the expansion of the state-federal health care plan for the needy." The AP obtained the letter, which said Indiana invested more than $27 million in creating HIP (Kusmer, 8/5).

Kansas Health Institute: "Kansas Department on Aging Secretary Martin Kennedy said Wednesday that it is 'fairly likely' he will have to start a waiting list for Medicaid-funded in-home services for the frail elderly, something that hasn't happened since 2002. … Kennedy explained that earlier cuts in spending had fallen short – 'by about $2 million' - of the amount needed to balance the department's budget for the 2010 fiscal year, which ended June 30. ... in the current fiscal year, the shortfall is expected to be between $5 million and $6 million. He said the department's budget wasn't keeping pace with the demand for home and community based services. Without these services, he said, many frail seniors are likely to end up in nursing homes, significantly increasing the department's costs" (Ranney, 8/5).

Maryland Reporter: "The Maryland Health Care Commission recently launched an experiment that could change the way patients receive health care, increase reimbursements to physicians, and generate cost savings for insurance companies. ... The goal of the study is to have primary care physicians coordinate 100% of a patient's care - instead of just seeing them for illnesses or one-time issues" (Pash, 8/6).

Florida Tribune: "Senate President Mike Haridopolos has a solution for some of the problems with Florida's massive Medicaid system: Putting limits on lawsuits against doctors and providers who treat Medicaid patients." At a meeting, the Republican offered few details "but Haridopolos said discussions focused on providing physicians immunity unless there is 'gross negligence,' which is a higher standard to meet than prevailing professional standard of care, which is what the standard is unless malpractice occurs in an emergency room" (Sexton, 8/5).

(Vermont) Times Argus: "Many of Vermont's health care woes stem from the fact that the state has an ineffective patchwork system of private insurance plans and government-funded programs, a Harvard economist told lawmakers Thursday. Dr. William Hsiao, an economic professor at Harvard's School of Public Health, has been hired by the Vermont Legislature to design three new health care models for the state." Hsiao is developing three models, two "will be a single-payer plan … the third plan is undefined" (Barlow, 8/6).

Grand Forks Herald: "A political dispute about the financial impact of health care reform on North Dakota continued Thursday. It goes back to a Tuesday statement from state Rep. George Keiser, R-Bismarck, who said the new federal law passed in March will increase costs for North Dakota families by at least $1.1 billion over the next 10 years. ... But Keiser's estimate for the cost increase is 'completely off the mark,' a spokesman for Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., said in an e-mail Thursday" (Johnson, 8/5).

Jamestown Sun / The Associated Press: "Secretary of State Al Jaeger has rejected an initiative petition that seeks to repeal North Dakota's restrictions on pharmacy ownership. Supporters of the ballot measure are exploring whether the petition problems can be corrected. … Supporters of the measure say it will help large retailers like Walmart and Target make lower cost prescription drugs available to customers" (8/5).

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