KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

State Roundup: Legislatures, Govs Juggling Costs And Health Programs

A selection of health policy stories from around the U.S.

Stateline: Maine Governor LePage Backs Nation's Toughest Medicaid Cuts
Medicaid spending is a matter of urgency almost everywhere in the country right now, but in few places is the urgency as palpable as it is here, where the governor refers to the federal-state health insurance program for the poor as "welfare," says it's necessary to eliminate coverage for 65,000 adults, and wants to stop paying room and board for some 2,000 elders who live in group homes. All these ideas are part of Republican Governor Paul LePage’s plan to close a $220 million hole in the state’s biennial Medicaid budget (Vestal, 2/6). 

Denver Post/The Associated Press: Senate Committee Kills GOP Bill Aimed At Undoing Obamacare-Related Measure
Colorado Republicans aren't faring well on their major health care proposals this year. A Republican bill to repeal Colorado's health insurance exchange was defeated 5-4 Thursday in a Democrat-controlled Senate committee. The committee is led by the Democratic senator who proposed the exchange last year (Bartels, 2/3).

The Associated Press/Des Moines Register: Branstad Prods Legislature On Health Care Tab
Gov. Terry Branstad urged the Legislature on Friday to require elected officials to pay more for their health care coverage. Speaking on the public television program "Iowa Press," Branstad suggested that elected officials pay 20 percent of their health care costs and set an example for other state workers. Earlier this week, Republican lawmakers proposed that all state workers pay $200 a month toward their health insurance (Glover, 2/3).

The Connecticut Mirror: Malloy To Propose Letting Unlicensed Workers Give Out Meds
Under Connecticut law, a home health aide can spend all day caring for you, but if you need help taking your pills, you'll need a nurse to come give them to you. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy next week will recommend changing that, a move his administration says could save the state more than $28 million a year and remove a barrier that keeps people from moving out of nursing homes (Levin Becker, 2/5).

The Sacramento Bee: Nurses Flex Their Political Muscle In Sacramento And Across California
Largely because of California Nurses Association efforts, California is poised to become the first state where registered nurses make an average salary above $100,000. The union helped defeat gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman in 2010 and has become a political force … The health care industry bristles at CNA tactics, including last Tuesday's one-day nurse walkout at Kaiser Permanente hospitals alongside striking workers from the smaller National Union of Healthcare Workers (Smith and Reese, 2/5).

California Healthline: Few People Aware of Medical Review Program
It has been 11 years since California launched its Independent Medical Review program, an appeals process that allows Californians to challenge denial or delay of coverage by private health care insurers. ... not many people in the state even know the program exists. ... According to Lyn Gage, a health program manager for the Department of Managed Health Care (which, along with the state Department of Insurance, runs the IMR program), her department has made a variety of outreach efforts (Gorn, 2/3).

Modern Healthcare: LSU Health Announces Layoffs
LSU Health said it plans to lay off an unspecified number of employees at seven hospitals and at the administration level to make up for a $29 million loss in federal funding (Lee, 2/5).

Modern Healthcare: Ascension, N.J. Hospitals Discuss New System
Ascension Health Care Network, the for-profit joint venture between the largest U.S. Catholic health system and a private equity firm, is in talks with two New Jersey hospitals about the possible development of a new Catholic system in the state. The possible deal is the first to be publicly identified by the joint venture, which was launched roughly a year ago to acquire Catholic hospitals (Evans, 2/3).

The Associated Press: New Inner-City Health Center Opens In Boston
On Monday, Gov. Deval Patrick and others will attend a ceremony dedicating Whittier's new, $35 million state-of-the-art facility viewed by many as a model for efficient health care delivery to traditionally underserved urban residents. ... Patrick said community health centers like Whittier are critical to the state's twin goals of providing universal care while reducing costs (Salsberg, 2/4). 

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Insurance Lags On Wound Care
Medical device firms across Minnesota have invested millions to develop products to heal open wounds, a $1.8 billion market that is expected to grow as the population ages and the number of people with type 2 diabetes climbs. But many of these companies are struggling to get their treatments to the masses because insurance companies often refuse to pay for their products. ... there is disagreement within the medical community about the best way to treat them (Lee, 2/5).

California Watch: Poor, Minority Residents Face Most Health Risks With Climate Change
The [California Department of Public Health] examined social and environmental factors ranging from the rising sea level to public transportation access and found that African Americans and Latinos living in these counties are more likely to be exposed to health and safety risks. ... In Los Angeles County, neighborhoods near Santa Monica and Long Beach were among those deemed most vulnerable, "largely from risks due to sea level rise, but also partially attributable to poor public transit, wildfire risk, and a large proportion of elderly living alone," the report said (Yeung, 2/3).

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