KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

State Legislatures Consider Exchanges, HMO Audits, Mental Health Care

A selection of health policy news from Iowa, Oregon, California, Oregon, Maryland, Connecticut, Kansas and Texas.

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Committee Considers Next Steps For Health Care Exchange, Vote On Legislation Could Come Friday
A House of Delegates committee is expected to vote on a bill to create the framework for a health insurance marketplace that is designed to provide coverage for the 700,000 uninsured people in Maryland (Breitenbach, 3/12).

(St. Paul) Pioneer Press: Senate Committee Adds Sweeping Amendments TO HMO Audit Bill
A Minnesota Senate committee deferred action Monday night on a bill that would require independent audits of the state's HMOs -- but not until it was amended in ways that could dramatically change how Minnesota buys health insurance for low-income residents. ... The audit bill in the House would require annual independent financial audits of the state's nonprofit health plans, which manage care for most of the state's Medicaid beneficiaries (Snowbeck, 3/12).

The Associated Press/Des Moines Register: Senate Approves Overhaul Of Mental Health System
Iowa's mental health system would be subjected to statewide standards, and six regional hubs rather than the state’s 99 counties [to] coordinate the services under an overhaul approved Monday by the Senate.  ... Services would still be done at the local level, but supporters said the regionalized approach would be an improvement from the current system, where the quality of care can vary widely from county to county (3/12).

The Lund Report (an Oregon news service): Mental Health Carve Out Bill Faced Governor's Veto
A bill that would have required the state to continue paying for drugs used for mental illnesses, HIV/AIDS, cancer, and immunosuppressant drugs until 2016 died in the last days of the Legislature, blocked by the House and facing a veto threat from Governor Kitzhaber. ... The bill would have expanded what's known as a "carve out" of mental health drugs, which DMAP currently pays for (rather than the managed care plans that are responsible for Oregon Health Plan members) (Waldroupe, 3/12). 

The Connecticut Mirror: Up Tuesday: Hearing On PCA, Child Care Unionization Bills
The fight over unionizing home care and child care workers will continue at the state Capitol complex Tuesday as legislators hear public testimony on controversial proposals to give the two groups collective bargaining rights (Levin Becker, 3/12). 

California Healthline: Health Care Lobbying in California Tops List in Record Year
Health care generated more spending on lobbyists in California last year than any other non-government category, according to the California secretary of state. Insurers, hospitals, physicians and other health care groups spent $35.7 million to influence California's decisions in 2011. ... The two top spenders in health care lobbying in California last year were Kaiser [Permanente] and the California Hospital (Lauer, 3/12).

Kansas Health Institute News: More KU Med-Wichita Grads Headed To Rural Kansas Practices
Dr. Beth Loney graduated from the University of Kansas School of Medicine's Wichita campus in June and then went into practice in Stockton, a town of about 1,300 people in Rooks County, north of Hays. When she started medical school, she had no plans to become a rural doctor. ... That changed thanks to an exposure to rural medicine during her second year of medical school (Cauthon, 3/12). 

The Dallas Morning News: Parkland's Troubles Post Test For Dallas Hospital's Inexperienced Board
As Parkland Memorial Hospital's board of managers undertakes the Herculean task of repairing Dallas County's badly fractured public hospital system, its members concede they have little experience in how public hospitals work. "Five of the six of us arrived here together about a year ago," board member Jerry Bryant noted at a recent meeting. ... [the board] is tasked with restructuring and improving the medical care provided by the 118-year-old charity hospital (Jacobson, 3/12).

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