KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Gloomy Health Care Statistics In Texas Top State News

New outlets report on a variety of health issues at the state level including gloomy health statistics and the rising cost of premiums for sick workers in Texas, a Medicaid program that could provide a model for national health care reform in North Carolina and Medicaid cuts in Michigan.

The Houston Chronicle reports: "A recent spate of national studies paint a dark portrait of the state of health care in Texas. Not only does the Lone Star State lead the nation in its uninsured population, adults and children alike, but the percentage of residents without health coverage could balloon from 27.5 percent to as much as one-third of the population in the next 10 years, a new study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Urban Institute predicts. Another gloomy report, issued by the Commonwealth Fund, ranked Texas among the 10 worst states for health-care access, prevention of disease, medical treatment, avoidable hospital use and inequality of health care between rich and poor. Texas topped the nation in the percentage of residents who avoid physicians because they can't afford it and ranked 49th for adults without a regular doctor" (Dunham and Burton, 10/15).

In a separate article, The Houston Chronicle reports on rising costs for sick employers in Texas: "Employees in Houston will pay an average of $4,791 next year for insurance premiums and out-of-pocket expenses such as deductibles and co-payments, nearly 10 percent more than this year, according to the worldwide human resources consulting firm Hewitt Associates. That's several hundred dollars more than the U.S. average of $4,023, now also poised to jump 10 percent in 2010. The spike - the highest since the 13 percent jump in 2007 - is coming at a time when overall consumer prices have fallen 1.3 percent compared with a year ago" (Sixel, 10/15).

NPR reports: "As lawmakers wrangle over the best way to overhaul the health care system, a program in North Carolina is getting attention. The state Medicaid program is helping people stay healthier - and saving the state money" (Hoban, 10/15).

The Grand Rapids Press reports on Medicaid cuts in Michigan: "It seems an unintended consequence of the state's decision to cut Medicaid-funded routine vision exams for adults may be [causing] confusion among patients who are most in need of eye care. Local clinics that serve low-income populations say they have seen a marked drop in people with medical conditions such as diabetes, glaucoma, or cataracts whose exams are still covered. Without regular exams and treatment, those patients are at risk for expensive and painful complications, and sometimes blindness. Something that could leave taxpayers paying more in the long run," eye care practitioners say (King, 10/15).

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