KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Texas Prepares For Health Reform’s Changes Despite Opposition To New Law; Other States Brace For Federal Funding Cuts

Stateline.org: "When Congress approved the sweeping federal health care overhaul in March, Texas Governor Rick Perry was one of the loudest critics. He blasted the initiative as unconstitutional, a government takeover of health care and an unfunded federal mandate on the states. … That sentiment remains widespread in Texas, which has joined with 20 other states in suing to block the law from taking effect. Yet even in Texas, hollers of protest are giving way to the blunt reality of governing, as the state takes reluctant but real steps toward implementing the law. ... Department of Insurance and Medicaid officials have begun working on the two biggest parts of the law for states: expanding Medicaid access and tightening regulation of insurers. Similar scenarios are playing out across the country, where every state that's actively challenging the law is at the same time taking steps to implement it, according to a Stateline analysis and information compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures" (Grovum, 6/14). 

The Connecticut Mirror: "The federal government plans to slice about $66 million from the annual Medicare payments it sends to Connecticut hospitals in the coming fiscal year, which would deal a significant budget blow to many of the state's health care facilities. Connecticut hospital officials are fighting the proposed cuts announced by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Other hospitals across the country will also be affected by a change in the way CMS calculates its Medicare payments, but Connecticut could be particularly hard hit. ... Medicare officials say the changes simply reflect an effort to recover overpayments to hospitals--in Connecticut and around the country--in previous years" (Shesgreen, 6/14).

The Wall Street Journal: "As the new head of the Illinois Department of Human Services, Michelle R.B. Saddler knew she would confront tough choices in preparing a budget that juggled rising needs for services with tumbling state revenue. But she wasn't prepared for the long list of mandates and governor's priorities that tied her hands. She wasn't supposed to eliminate services required by law or court order. She was to spare Medicaid-eligible services and food-stamp benefits. And she couldn't jeopardize residents' safety or well-being. … State-agency heads nationwide face similar dilemmas as they confront gaping budget deficits" (Merrick, 6/14).

The Wall Street Journal, in a separate story: "Chiefs at some of New York City's largest hospitals say that state cuts in Medicaid and other health-care spending passed by the legislature this week would harm financially weak health-care centers and could force even stronger ones to cut workers or care. State cuts total $143 million for New York City hospitals alone, according to the Healthcare Association of New York State, a trade group." Hospital officials said it was the eighth substantial cut in funding by the state in the past two years (Sataline, 6/12).

Kansas Health Institute: "A bill in the U.S. Senate that would extend for six months richer federal Medicaid assistance to states and spare Kansas a potential $131 million hole in its budget has now become an issue in the Kansas governor's race. Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Tom Holland, a state senator from Baldwin City, issued a campaign broadside today against U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, the Republican who is thought to be the frontrunner, saying Brownback's expected, second vote against the so-called 'FMAP extension' would hurt Kansans who rely on Medicaid and force more cuts to social services. … Both Kansas U.S. senators are Republicans and both voted against the additional Medicaid assistance to states on March 28. ... Brownback said he will vote for the extension, if the spending for it is offset by reductions in other federal spending" (Shields, 6/11).

The Miami Herald: "As he positions himself to the center in the U.S. Senate race, Gov. Charlie Crist on Friday vetoed a measure requiring most women to pay for an ultrasound and hear a description of the fetus before they can have an abortion. … The measure would have required most women to have an ultrasound performed before having an abortion, unless the woman can prove she is a victim of rape, incest, domestic violence or human trafficking. Women could opt out of viewing the ultrasound by signing a form. Anti-abortion advocates and Crist's Republican critics in the Legislature immediately pounced on the decision" (Logan and Frank, 6/11).

The (Bergen, N.J.) Record: "Entrepreneurs with an eye on the aging demographics of North Jersey are starting up businesses to capitalize on the growing senior citizen population. ... In New Jersey, seniors were about 13 percent of the state's population in 2008, and by 2030, that number is expected to climb to 19.8 percent. Most start-up companies that have been launched in the past two years in North Jersey are in demand because older parents need regular help. Their children, often parents themselves, are trying to avoid using nursing homes. Census statistics and situations of adult children have motivated entrepreneurs to buy franchises that provide home health care aides across New Jersey at a rapid pace" (Lawrence, 6/13).

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