KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Medicaid Cuts Hurt Miss. Residents, Calif. Appeals Federal Order To Reduce Prison Population Amid Health Concerns

The Jackson (Miss.) Clarion Ledger: "Parents across Mississippi say they are frustrated with state Medicaid officials as programs are downsized and benefits canceled. … Gov. Haley Barbour's tough financial stand toward Medicaid speaks volumes about the legacy he may leave when his term expires in January 2012. The Republican governor, who said recently he is eyeing a run for president, promises to pass on the state in better financial shape than when he came into office in 2004. But his critics say the squeeze on government programs such as Medicaid has come at the expense of the working poor, the disabled and the sick. Barbour plans to push substantial Medicaid provider rate cuts in the upcoming legislative session" (Parker, 11/30).

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Washington "State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler plans to ask legislators to preserve his authority to approve health insurance rates, boost transparency and to let him consider some insurers' surpluses when reviewing rates. … Under current law, Kreidler is not allowed to review a company's surplus, including investment income, when reviewing a rate request. His surplus proposal would apply only to non-profit insurers, which account for most of the health insurance market in Washington. Specifically, Kreidler proposes that rate hikes not be approved when a company amasses a surplus equal to three months of claims expenses. But he wants to be able to grant exceptions to that rule if limiting a surplus or rates threatens to an insurer's financial health." Kreidler also wants to add more transparency to the rate-review process, insurers' finances and medical trends (Ho, 11/29).

Los Angeles Times reports that California "is appealing a 2009 federal judicial order to reduce the prison population by more than 40,000 in two years. Lawyers for 18 other states are backing the appeal. The suicide rate in California's overcrowded prisons is nearly twice the national average, and one inmate dies every eight days from inadequate medical care. These are just two indicators cited in the 15-year legal battle over whether the state's prisons are failing to provide humane medical care for the 165,000 inmates. On Tuesday, the problems of California's prisons will move to a national stage when the Supreme Court hears the state's challenge to an extraordinary court order that would require the prison population to be reduced by about 25% in two years" (Savage and Williams, 11/29).

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