KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

State Roundup: Calif. Retirees To Retain Health Benefits; Emory, MinuteClinic Partner In Ga.; Free Services In Md.

Los Angeles Times: Retired Public Workers Can Count On Promised Benefits, Court Says
Health benefits for government retirees may not be eliminated if state and local governments had clearly promised workers those benefits, the California Supreme Court ruled in an Orange County case Monday. The unanimous ruling is expected to make it more difficult for state and local governments to shave costs by cutting health benefits to retirees if elected officials in previous years made it clear that those benefits would last a lifetime (Dolan, 11/21).

San Francisco Chronicle: California Court’s Pensions Ruling Could Reach Far 
Orange County, joined by city and county governments statewide, had argued that it could reduce retirees' health benefits retroactively because county supervisors had never expressly guaranteed that the benefits would remain untouched (Egelko, 11/22). 

Kaiser Health News: Despite Deep Opposition To Health Law, Ga. Contemplates Insurance Exchange
In Georgia, like many other Southern states, opposition to the federal health overhaul runs deep. Yet an overwhelmingly conservative committee of experts carefully, and without rancor, has outlined a plan to give the state a health insurance exchange, a cornerstone of the sweeping health care law passed by Democrats in Congress and signed by President Obama last year (Gugliotta, 11/21).

The Lund Report: Mental Health Organization Takes Up Challenge To Create CCO
Greater Oregon Behavioral Healthcare, Inc., (GOBHI), based in The Dalles, is in active discussions with a multitude of healthcare providers to become a coordinated care organization (CCO) by next July. ... It’s unusual for a mental health organization to charter the path and attempt to coordinate physical, mental health and dental care on behalf of Oregon Health Plan patients (Waldroupe, 11/21).

Georgia Health News: Emory Teaming Up With MinuteClinic
The dash by Atlanta health systems toward forming new partnerships continued Monday with the announcement of an affiliation between Emory Healthcare and MinuteClinic, which operates retail clinics in CVS/pharmacy stores. ... Retail clinics have mushroomed through metro Atlanta and across the country in the past few years (Miller, 11/21).

Related, earlier KHN story: The Walmart Opportunity: Can Retailers Revamp Primary Care? (Appleby, 11/21).

California Healthline: Settlement Sets New Course For Adult Day Health Care
The compromise also creates the Community-Based Adult Services program, which will provide services similar to those provided in the ADHC program at comparable rates for many beneficiaries. The state estimates that the program population will include about half the number of current ADHC beneficiaries. ... Patients who aren't eligible for CBAS still can receive enhanced, intensive case management services through a managed care plan, state officials said. ... The distinction is important. If 60% or 70% of the ADHC beneficiaries are deemed at risk for institutionalization, that would cost the state significantly more (Gorn, 11/21) 

The Miami Herald:  Silver Sneakers Program Helps The Over-60 Set
Fitness classes for the over 60-set are catching on as vigorous workouts can transform the health issues that can come with aging ... Silver Sneakers is offered at 10,000 locations nationwide serving more than seven million members. If covered by health insurance — AvMed, Humana and United HealthCare, among others, include it in their policies — then it’s free. … individuals who participate in the program have lower long-term medical costs and require fewer hospital admissions (Burgess, 11/22). 

HealthyCal: Del Mar Offers Caregivers A Helping Hand In Salinas
Caregivers Resource Center supports residents dealing with Alzheimer’s and other memory impairment disorders ... They offer services that range from respite care so that a full-time caregiver can get a break away from caregiving; care planning that connects caregivers with resources in the community and helps them to develop plans to share duties with other family members or friends (Flores, 11/22).

The Baltimore Sun: Low-Income Women To Get Free Health Planning Services
Nearly 35,000 low-income women in the state are now eligible for free pregnancy counseling, contraception and screenings for sexually transmitted diseases and breast cancer under a program that starts at the beginning of the year. ... The program was made possible by the Family Planning Works Act, legislation enacted during the last General Assembly session (Walker, 11/21). 

The Baltimore Sun: Audit Criticizes State Medical Board For Backlog Of Complaints
The state Board of Physicians has a serious backlog of complaints and a growing timeline for resolving it, according to a newly released legislative audit of the agency charged with protecting the public from bad doctors. It also isn't keeping complete records and its actions lack transparency, sometimes in violation of open meetings laws, the review says (Cohn, 11/21). 

The Miami Herald: UM’s Sovereign Immunity Savings Should Be Passed On To Jackson, Legislator Says
The chairman of the Miami-Dade legislative delegation has sent a blistering letter to the University of Miami, saying he finds it “extremely troubling” that the UM medical school does not plan to share its savings from a new sovereign-immunity legal status with cash-strapped Jackson Health System (Dorschner, 11/21).

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