KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

State Roundup: Fla. Seeks MLR Waiver; Hospitals Struggle

Stateline: A Health Care Q & A With Alabama Governor Robert Bentley
Alabama's Robert Bentley is one of two current governors to have "doctor" on his résumé. ... In an interview with Stateline last week (March 10), Bentley elaborated on his health care agenda. His plan emphasizes individual health savings accounts, which he says will lower costs by letting patients decide how they want to spend their health care dollars. He wants to give state tax breaks to businesses that purchase insurance for their employees and state-based incentives to attract more insurance carriers (Vestal, 3/15). 

CQ HealthBeat: Florida Petitions HHS For Medical Payout Rule Exception
Florida is the fifth state - and by far the most populous - to file a petition asking for an adjustment to federal medical loss ratio rules for individual health insurance, saying that there is a "reasonable likelihood" that the new rules would disrupt the state's insurance market. Delaying the rule until full implementation of the health care law in 2014 "will allow insurers to prepare for a smooth glide to the new realities of 2014 rather than falling off a cliff and hobbling there on crutches," says a petition filed by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (Norman, 3/14). 

The Philadelphia Inquirer: Suit Aims To Force Pa. To Keep Low-Income Coverage
A Pittsburgh law firm has filed a lawsuit to force the state to continue to provide health-care coverage for 42,000 low-income adults whose insurance program ended last month. The suit, filed Monday in Commonwealth Court and seeking class-action status, charges that Gov. Corbett does not have the authority to end the decade-old program, known as adultBasic, because its funding from the state is stipulated under law. Named in the suit are Corbett, the state House and Senate, and members of the Corbett administration (Worden, 3/15).

Related, earlier KHN story:Pennsylvania Closing State Health Plan For Low-Income Adults  (Gold, 2/23)

McClatchy / The (Columbia, S.C.) State: S.C. Lawmakers Reject Haley's Plan For State Employees Insurance Fees
Lawmakers Monday rejected Gov. Nikki Haley's proposal that the state cut its budget by requiring state employees to pick up the added cost of their health insurance. ... The House budget would [also] ... [cut] state money for Medicaid, the health care program for the poor and disabled (O'Connor, 3/15). 

Georgia Health News: Poll Shows Only Modest Support For Repeal
Only about one in three Georgia voters want lawmakers to repeal health care reform entirely, despite strong opposition to the new law among the state's political leadership. ... The telephone poll of 450 registered Georgia voters also found 14 percent want lawmakers to expand the reform law and 18 percent want to preserve it as written. ... The poll ...  was commissioned by the Healthcare Georgia Foundation, a statewide, private independent foundation. ... Ken Thorpe, an Emory University health policy expert, said he was surprised that the sentiment for repeal wasn't stronger, given the political climate against the White House-backed law in Georgia (Miller, 3/14). 

Connecticut Mirror: Malloy Tells Hospital Executives, 'It Could Be Worse'
Hospital executives have been bemoaning the millions of dollars in cuts they face under Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's proposed budget, and on Monday, they got a chance to tell him in person. ... His responses had a theme: The state is worse off than you are. Everybody has to sacrifice. And although hospitals stand to lose millions of dollars in the proposed budget, they could have it worse. ... Under his plan, they would lose $83.3 million a year in state payments meant to cover part of the cost of treating uninsured or underinsured patients. Malloy noted Monday that the funding would have been eliminated in 2014, and his plan simply removes it two years early (Levin Becker, 3/14).

Houston Chronicle: Harris County Hospital District To Screen For Green First
The Harris County Hospital District has begun turning away uninsured patients from other counties who show up in its facilities and do not need urgent care, unless they pay cash up front. The policy is one of several strategies the district is pursuing to prevent "cataclysmic" effects on patients as the state considers cuts that could take nearly 10 percent of the district's budget, president and CEO David Lopez said. If a patient enters a hospital or clinic with a medical emergency, federal law mandates treatment. Many people, however, visit emergency rooms with routine illnesses (Morris, 3/14). 

WBUR: A Crash Course On Health Care Costs
At the State House, in hospital and insurance boardrooms, and in companies large and small, high-level discussions about how to deal with rising health care costs are underway. Now, the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (GBIO) is helping consumers catch up. About two dozen GBIO members are in training to lead a health care cost control campaign. ... Keeping the right to choose where they go for care comes up again and again during the meeting. But these health care campaign leaders also talk about whether the state should regulate how much time a doctor spends with a patient, whether doctors should be paid based on their patients' well-being and how patients should be held accountable for their own health (Bebinger, 3/15). 

Los Angeles Times: Regulators Investigate Health Net Security Lapse Involving Personal Information Of 1.9 Million People
State regulators have opened an investigation into the security practices of insurer Health Net Inc. after the Woodland Hills company revealed the loss of computerized records containing personal information related to about 1.9 million people. … The company said the records included addresses, social security numbers and other information of customers, employees and health-care providers (Helfand, 3/14).

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