KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

State Roundup: Ill. Medicaid Fraud; Iowa Seeks More Caregivers; Definitive ‘No’ On Kan. Medicaid Expansion.

A collection of state health policy news from Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Texas, Washington state, Iowa and Kansas.

The Associated Press: Medicaid Paid $12M For Illinois Dead
The Illinois Medicaid program paid an estimated $12 million for medical services for people listed as deceased in other state records, according to an internal state government memo. The memo dated Friday, which The Associated Press obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, says the state auditor compared clients enrolled in the Medicaid database last June with state death records dating back to 1970. Auditors identified overpayments for services to roughly 2,900 people after the date of their deaths (Johnson and Burnett, 4/18).

Des Moines Register: Demand Increasing For Paid Caregivers 
When they married 31 years ago, Dave Johnson joked that someday his younger wife, Alicia, would be pushing him around in a wheelchair. The 66-year-old Sioux City man never thought he would instead be taking care of Alicia Johnson, 53, who suffers from congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma and diabetes. ... A year ago, the couple began receiving help from nurses and home health aides ... By 2020 Iowa will need 95,000 paid caregivers. The average annual turnover rate for the profession in the state is more than 60 percent, according to the Iowa CareGivers Association (Butz, 4/19).

The Associated Press:  Kansas Extending Ban On Expansion Of Medicaid
Gov. Sam Brownback has indefinitely extended a ban on expanding Medicaid in Kansas under the federal health care overhaul. Brownback on Friday signed a bill approved by the GOP-dominated Legislature to keep the ban in place (4/19).

WABE: Educators Pleased About Potential Changes To The State Health Benefit Plan
Several education organizations are pleased the state plans to increase the number of providers and health plan options for state employees next year. The announcement by the state comes after state employees raised concerns about Georgia selecting Blue Cross Blue Shield as its only insurer this year for the State Health Benefit Plan (Wirth, 4/18).

Los Angeles Times: Texas Doctors Say Hospital Revoked Their Privileges Over Abortions
Two Texas doctors who had been performing abortions for more than three decades lost their legal ability to do so at the end of March when their new hospital revoked their privileges. This week, a judge temporarily reinstated their positions. ... The abortion case, like many others in Texas at the moment, was sparked by legislation passed last year that placed significant limits on who can perform abortions and where (Dave, 4/18).

The Seattle Times:  After-Hours Clinic A Partnership Of Health-care David And Goliath
At Medical Center’s Cherry Hill hospital, the "EMERGENCY" sign glows bright in the dusk above the emergency-room entrance. Some 18,000 people sought help here last year. Right next to the sign, there’s another one on the building: "After-Hours Clinic." Operated by Country Doctor Community Health Centers, this clinic -- like Swedish’s ER -- is open evenings and weekends. This isn’t competition, but a partnership few would have predicted before the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare (Ostrom, 4/20). 

The Miami Herald:  UM Law Students Dig Into Health Care Policy To Help Patient Get Life-saving Treatment
One day last January, Ariel Gonzalez was picking oranges in Okeechobee. The next, the 35-year old Mexican laborer was overcome by lower back pain from what would later be diagnosed as Stage 5 kidney disease. Medicaid usually doesn’t cover the health needs of undocumented workers like Gonzalez, but it can -- and it did -- in his case. But apparently no one knew of the potential exception. ... It took the four law students, along with two attorneys and a paralegal, 20 days to secure outpatient dialysis for Gonzalez (Borns, 4/18).

Kansas Health Institute News Service:  Governor Signs 19 Bills Into Law 
Senate Bill 311 increases the cap on economic damages in medical malpractice cases and personal injury lawsuits from $250,000 to $350,000 between now and 2022. House Bill 2552 requires that all properly submitted or "clean" claims for payment filed by Kansas Medicaid providers with managed care organizations be fully paid or denied within 30 days. Full payment or denial on all other claims is required within 90 days. Senate Bill 271 beefed up the penalties for Medical fraud by, among other things, increasing fines for violations and the severity levels of the crimes (4/18).

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