KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

State Roundup: Iowa Ponders HPV Awareness Program; Md. Workers Will See Pharmacy Plan Change

Des Moines Register: Does Iowa Need An HPV program? Senate Subcommittee Says Yes
Iowa's health department would launch a $250,000 public awareness program about the human papillomavirus vaccine under a bill approved today by a Senate subcommittee. ... Senate Study Bill 3097 would allocate $250,000 for the program, which includes vaccinations for low-income women between the ages 19 and 26 who have no other health coverage. The bill was approved today by a Senate Human Resources subcommittee and now heads to the full committee for further consideration (Clayworth, 2/9).

The Baltimore Sun: State Workers To Get New Pharmacy Plan
More than 200,000 Maryland state employees, retirees and dependents will switch to a new pharmacy plan as a result of the Board of Public Works' decision Wednesday to award the $2.4 billion contract to a St. Louis-based company. When the transition take place in May, plan members will no longer be able to fill prescriptions at one of Maryland's 58 Walgreens stores. The chain is not part of the network operated by the new provider, Express Scripts Inc. (Dresser, 2/8).

MSNBC/Associated Press: Md. Awards $1.1 Million For Community Health Care
The Maryland Community Health Resources Commission is awarding $1.1 million to improve access to medical and dental care statewide. Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown announced the 15 awards Wednesday. Baltimore city tops the list, with three grants totaling $183,000. The largest is $109,000 to Catholic Charities' Esperanza Center. The center provides services to new immigrants. The biggest single grant of $140,000 is to the Community Clinic Inc. in Montgomery County. It serves people who are uninsured or under-insured (2/9).

WBUR: Report: Health Care Changes Saving Money For Cities
A report suggests that Massachusetts cities and towns are on track to exceed the estimated $100 million in statewide savings during the first year of new municipal health care rules. ... The law gives municipalities more flexibility to make changes to public employee health insurance outside of the collective bargaining process (2/8). 

Health News Florida: Consumer Seats At Risk
One of the consumer seats on each of Florida’s medical boards would be taken away and given to a physician assistant under bills pending in House and Senate budget committees. The change would leave just two consumers on the 15-seat Board of Medicine and just one on the seven-member Board of Osteopathic Medicine (Gentry, 2/8).

Kansas Health Institute News: KHIE Board Approves First Budget Amid Questions About Future Funding The board responsible for overseeing health information exchange in Kansas today approved its first operational budget despite still-unanswered questions about how much money it has left and how those dollars should be spent.The Kansas Health Information Exchange, Inc. board approved a $665,456 budget for recurring expenses this year and an additional $120,000 for consulting and outsourced services (Cauthon, 2/8).

The Lund Report (an Oregon news service): Fast Track Legislation Scrapped, Lacking Political Support
The managed care plans that are currently providing services to Oregon Health Plan members appear to have lost their bid to create what’s known as "fast track," legislation, giving them the ability to turn into coordinated care organizations (CCOs) by July. ... These CCOs are the backbone of the transformation reform under way and are expected to begin integrating the physical, mental and dental health care of 600,000 people on the Oregon Health Plan (Waldroupe, 2/9).

The Sacramento Bee: Job Cuts Leave More California Residents In Medical Debt, UCLA Study Says
The Great Recession has left more California families with mounting medical debt and a tenuous grip on the insurance needed to afford care, a new UCLA study revealed. Some 2.6 million non-elderly California residents carried medical debt in 2009, about 400,000 more than in 2007, according to the report released Monday by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.  Recession was the prime suspect, as job cuts forced more Californians onto the unemployment line, stripping their employer-supplied health benefits in the process (Smith, 2/8).

California Healthline: State Choices on Essential Benefits May Become More Complicated
Besides California, 21 other states approved laws in 2011 mandating various health services to be covered by health plans, according to research by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Now, this year, the queue of proposed mandates might be even longer in California, as advocates push for coverage and health officials lay the groundwork for implementing the Affordable Care Act (Gorn, 2/8).

Denver Post: Decaying Statistics Prompt A Renewed Dental-Health Push By Colorado And Private Officials
One of Matthew's 6-year molars has a cavity eating through enamel that never formed quite right. He'll have an appointment with the drill in a week or two. And Matthew has just joined a set of stubborn statistics that have prompted a renewed dental-health push by state and private officials: Fifty-seven percent of Colorado third-graders had cavities in the latest survey in 2007, exactly the same number as in 2004, despite years of effort (Booth, 2/9).

Boston Globe: DeLeo Rejects Patrick’s Tax Proposals
House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo rejected yesterday Governor Deval Patrick’s proposal to raise $260 million in new revenue with various taxes and fees, including a tax on candy and soda, an increase in cigarette taxes, and a new deposit requirement for bottled water. DeLeo, delivering his annual address laying out his priorities for the year, renewed his argument that business leaders need predictability and consistency in the tax code (Bierman, 2/8).

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