KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Roundup: Fla. Turns Down Another $1M Grant; Colo. Provider Fees; Conn. Bulk Rx Purchases

The Miami Herald: Florida Rejects Another $1 Million Grant
Using as ammunition a Florida judge's ruling this week that the federal healthcare law is unconstitutional, state officials are wasting no time stepping away from the controversial overhaul. Their latest move: rejecting a $1 million federal grant awarded to the Agency for Health Care Administration to plan a system required by the law where consumers can comparison shop for health plans. It's the second federal healthcare reform grant rejected by Florida this week. Tuesday, Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty returned a $1 million grant that would have provided a resource for consumers to monitor insurance-rate changes and how premiums are spent (Zink, 2/4).

Denver Post: Hospitals, State Officials Agree To Provider Fee To Help Shore Up Medicaid In Colo.
State health officials and hospital leaders have agreed on a proposed $50 million transfer of provider fees to shore up basic Medicaid in Colorado, while federal officials on Thursday urged states to also consider cuts in optional benefits to balance their threatened Medicaid budgets (Booth, 2/4). 

Connecticut Mirror: Lembo Says Bulk Medication Purchases Could Save $66M Next Year
It will barely dent the largest budget deficit in Connecticut history, but state Comptroller Kevin Lembo today said the state can save between $66 million and $80 million next year simply by better coordinating how government purchases prescription medication. ... The comptroller, whose agency makes between 3 million and 4 million prescription buys annually, said the savings that could be negotiated by bulk purchasing and volume-related discounts are too large to ignore (Phaneuf, 2/3).

Kansas Health Institute News: Kansas Dentists Propose Plan To Address State's Dental Shortage
The Kansas Dental Association today unveiled its plan to address the state's critical dentist shortage ahead of another, expected proposal by advocates for the uninsured. Notably, the KDA proposal seeks to expand the role of dental hygienists in prevention while advocates have said the best way to solve the shortage is to license mid-level practitioners to do basic dental work like fillings and restorative services (2/3).

Kansas City Star: Initiative Aims To Improve Dental Care For Kansans
The Kansas Dental Association today proposed a bill to the Senate Committee on Public Health and Welfare to improve dental care for Kansans. The bill includes proposals for a loan repayment program and for the Board of Regents to add three to five dental school seats for residents. The seats would be given to residents who agree to return and practice dentistry in underserved areas (Foster, 2/3). 

St. Paul Pioneer Press: Mayo Clinic Gets $100M From Iowa Businessman
[Richard O.] Jacobson's donation will help establish the Mayo Clinic Proton Beam Therapy Program, which will span the clinic's campuses in Rochester and Arizona. In November, Mayo said it planned to spend $370 million to build proton beam therapy centers in Rochester and Phoenix to treat cancer patients. ... The therapy is thought to bring fewer side effects and can be particularly helpful in treating children, although there are concerns the expensive and emerging technology ultimately might be over-used (Snowbeck, 2/3).

California Healthline: Public-Private Partnerships Help Train Health Care Work Force
A new survey released last week indicates California community colleges are turning away qualified applicants for health worker training programs because schools lack the capacity to teach them. Community college officials don't have much hope for good budget news anytime soon in a state facing a $25.4 billion budget deficit. But there is hope that more schools can forge successful partnerships with health care providers who can offer clinical space and expertise ... In Northern California, a partnership between Sutter Health and Yuba Community College District is keeping afloat the only accredited X-ray technician training program between San Francisco and the Oregon border (Lauer, 2/3).

The Sacramento Bee: Health Care Workers Union Claims Victory Over Smaller Rival
The ongoing clash between two unions battling to represent Northern California health care workers has taken another turn – with the larger, more established combatant claiming victory. On Wednesday, the SEIU's United Healthcare Workers West asserted that it had vanquished the upstart National Union of Healthcare Workers (Calvan, 2/3). 

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