KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

State Roundup: Md. Program Poised For Health Reform; Calif. High-Risk Pool

A selection of health care news from Georgia, Wisconsin, California, Louisiana, Colorado, Florida, Oregon and Michigan.

Kaiser Health News: Oregon Wants To Grade Its ACOs
Its accountable care organizations will be called coordinated care organizations. And, instead of just aiming to cut costs and increase the quality of care, Oregon wants to actually grade them (Foden-Vencil, 10/19). 

The Baltimore Sun/Howard County Times: Healthy Howard Takes Lead In County Approach To Federal Health Care Reform
Since its inception in 2008, the nonprofit organization Healthy Howard Inc., best known for its subsidized health-care plan for uninsured county residents, has left its mark on county politics and health policy. It has also lifted Howard County out of national health-care mediocrity. ... Healthy Howard, which was once assumed to have an expiration date that aligned with the implementation of the federal law, will instead play a continuing and prominent role in dealing with that influx through its Door to Health Care program (Rector, 10/20).

Detroit Free Press: Health Laws To Save Mich. Families Average of $2,200
Michigan families earning less than $100,000 a year will save an average of $2,200 on health insurance by 2019, when federal health reform laws are in full effect, a report issued Wednesday said. The report from Families USA, a Washington, D.C.-based health research and advocacy group, tallied subsidies coming for lower-earning households and other expected savings coming from federal health (Anstett, 10/20).

California Healthline: Extra Year Of Operation For PCIP?
A big topic at yesterday's meeting of the Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board (MRMIB) was the agency's interaction with the state's Health Benefit Exchange. Programs MRMIB administers will eventually disappear, absorbed by the introduction of health care reform and the Exchange in 2014. That is fine with the board members at MRMIB, but they gently raised the idea yesterday that programs such as the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan might be continued for a year (Gorn, 10/20).

Health News Florida: Skin-Cancer Docs Take On Humana
Humana, Florida's largest Medicare HMO company, has a lot of market muscle. This year, it used that muscle to dump many Gold Plus Plan dermatologists in Florida soon after the ink was dry on their contracts. It shifted thousands of patients – along with financial risk for their skin treatment – to a chain of clinics run by a company based in Orlando, Advanced Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery. The dermatologists accuse Humana of "bait-and-switch" by changing their network right after Medicare sign-up season ended (Gentry, 10/19). 

New Orleans Times-Picayune: St. John School District's Health Insurer Proposes $2.8 Million Increase
The St. John the Baptist Parish School Board will decide on Thursday how it will deal with a proposed $2.8 million increase for group health insurance. The board's current carrier, UnitedHealthcare, is proposing a 35 percent increase to renew in January the current health insurance contract, which will cost the district a total of $7.9 million. The district has been with UnitedHealthcare for just more than nine months. It switched its carrier from Blue Cross last year, after that company proposed a $1 million increase (Boquet, 10/19). 

Health Policy Solutions (a Colorado news service): AG Responded To Consumer Concerns In $1.45 Billion Hospital Sale
Opponents of the Colorado Health Foundation's $1.45 billion sale of HealthONE hospitals to its partner, Tennessee-based HCA, believe Colorado will suffer in the long run. But a legal analyst from the Colorado Center for Law and Policy thinks Attorney General John Suthers went further than expected to protect consumer interests. Suthers approved the sale last week and found that the sale price was fair. He attached modifications (Kerwin McCrimmon, 10/19). 

Georgia Health News: Grady Under Inspection After Patient's Fatal Fall
A team of inspectors arrived this week at Atlanta's Grady Memorial Hospital to conduct a federal survey of its care systems. The action comes in the wake of a patient's death in a fall from an 11th-floor window. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is conducting the survey to make sure Grady meets the agency’s "conditions of participation"’ – to continue to receive funding from the government insurance programs Medicare and Medicaid (Miller, 10/19).

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Bill Would Allow The Return Of Abstinence-Only Sex Education In Schools
Schools could again teach abstinence-only courses under a bill moving through the Legislature that also would require any sex education courses to promote marriage and tell students abstinence is the only reliable way to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. A law approved last year when Democrats controlled state government requires sex education courses in public schools to be age appropriate and comprehensive, covering issues such as sexually transmitted diseases and how to use birth control. ... Now Republicans run the Legislature, and they hope to pass a bill that would repeal many of the aspects of the law and allow local school districts to set up abstinence-only programs (Marley, 10/19).

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