KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Contention, Hearings Dominate State Health Law Implementation Efforts

Lawmakers in Mississippi, Missouri, Wyoming, Kansas, Florida and California are considering the effects of expanding Medicaid and establishing health insurance exchanges -- both major tenets of the health law for states.

Kaiser Health News: Cracks Appearing In GOP Opposition To Health Law
[Mississippi] Gov. Phil Bryant and Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney have known each other for 30 years and call themselves friends. Now, though, a wedge has come between the two elected Republicans -- President Barack Obama's health law" (Galewitz, 1/22).

The Associated Press: Mo. Budget Panel Hears Support For Medicaid Growth
With Missouri's budget prospects improving, dozens of advocates for social services and education crowded a Senate committee room Tuesday asking for more money for things such as Medicaid and college scholarships. Medicaid expansion was the key topic during the Senate Appropriations Committee's first public hearing on Missouri's next operating budget, which begins July 1 (Shapiro, 1/22).

The Associated Press: Committee To Hear Bill On Medicaid Expansion
A Wyoming legislative committee is set to consider a bill to approve expansion of the federal Medicaid program. The Senate Labor Health and Social Services Committee is set to consider a bill Wednesday that would add nearly 30,000 people to the Medicaid rolls in the state (Neary, 1/23).

Kansas Health Institute: Medicaid Expansion Bill Introduced
A Wichita Democrat has introduced legislation that would expand eligibility for the Kansas Medicaid program to include people earning up to almost $15,000 a year. Currently, the Kansas program is among the most restrictive in the nation and generally covers only children, pregnant women or disabled persons who are poor (Shields, 1/22).

The Associated Press: Fla. Looks To Mass. For Health Care Advice
Florida lawmakers considering how to implement the federal health care overhaul sought information Tuesday from two economists on the Massachusetts initiative that served as the blueprint for the national plan. Massachusetts pioneered an approach emulated in the federal Affordable Care Act with its 2006 health care initiative and is currently the only state that requires individuals to have health insurance (Kennedy, 1/22).

California Healthline: Exchange Readies Its New Website
Covered California, the new brand name for the state's health benefit exchange, will unveil its new website next week, according to Oscar Hidalgo, director of communication and public affairs at the exchange. Hidalgo spoke at last week's exchange board meeting … Exchange officials plan to maintain the current website and update its design so it can be used for stakeholder information, Hidalgo said. The new site -- initially in two languages -- is designed to help consumers in 13 languages (Gorn, 1/23).

California Healthline: Report Shows Central Valley Behind In ACA Preparation
One of the poorest and most underinsured regions in the state trails other areas of California when it comes to health care reform readiness, according to a study examined in a public forum last week. The Fresno region, which includes Fresno, Madera, Mariposa, Kings and Tulare counties, needs to do more to prepare for the large increase in patients who will have health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act, according to the report. A team of researchers from the Center for Studying Health System Change conducted the study on behalf of the California HealthCare Foundation (Daniel, 1/22).

And states also prepare for fallout around initiatives to cut costs while improving patient care --

HealthyCal: Mixed Results For Hospital Pay-For-Performance Initiatives
Federal health care reforms are trying to cut costs and improve quality -- two objectives that are often at odds. Policy makers hope that strategies like changing how providers are paid can balance cost and quality. But studies of current programs like pay-for-performance initiatives show mixed results in cutting costs and improving quality. Providers say the incentive amounts are not enough to cover the cost of change. "It's an awful lot of sticks and not a lot of carrot," said G. Scott Smith, medical director of St. Joseph Heritage Medical Group in Orange County (Shanafelt, 1/23).

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