KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

State Legislatures Consider Medicaid, Health Cost And Health Program Bills

State legislatures around America are considering laws to change their Medicaid programs and to address how patients can learn their doctor's malpractice history. They are also contemplating how to cut health care costs and adjusting prescription privileges for nurses.

(St. Paul) Pioneer Press: Minnesota Bill To Change HMO Medicaid Requirements Advances
A state House committee advanced a bill Tuesday that would eliminate a requirement for nonprofit health plans to participate in the state's Medicaid program. The change would amount to a fundamental shift in how Minnesota buys health insurance for low-income and disabled residents who rely on the program, which is jointly funded by the state and federal government. Currently, the majority of Medicaid recipients in the state have their care administered by managed care organizations, including nonprofit HMOs (Snowbeck, 3/13). 

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Bill To Disclose Malpractice Data Gets Scaled Back 
An effort at the State Capitol to give consumers more information about the malpractice histories of doctors has been scaled back under concerted lobbying by the Minnesota Medical Association (MMA). … MMA officials called the amended bill "significantly improved" in a recent news release, arguing that malpractice information can often be misleading and isn't a good indicator of the quality of care provided by a given physician. … But a leading malpractice authority said the amended bill would hide large quantities of malpractice data that could be useful to consumers (Meryhew and Howatt, 3/13).

WBUR's CommonHealth blog: The Fight Over How Deeply To Cut Health Care Costs
A behind-the-scenes fight about what goal Massachusetts should set for cutting health care costs burst into the open tonight. The Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (GBIO) and the state's largest employer group, Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) are both calling for a target that would mean deep cuts (Bebinger, 3/13). 

Boston Globe: Religious, Business Leaders Support Aggressive Cap On Health Cost Increases
Religious and business leaders in Massachusetts called Tuesday for state lawmakers to rein in health spending more aggressively than House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo has proposed, but groups representing doctors and hospitals warned that slowing spending too sharply could be harmful. The Greater Boston Interfaith Organization, which has provided a significant consumer voice throughout the state's health care overhaul, said Tuesday night that DeLeo's proposal to cap health care cost increases at about 3.7 percent annually, a number comparable to the yearly growth in the state's economy, was insufficient. DeLeo said recently that would be his goal for containing costs in a long-awaited bill expected to be filed shortly and acted on by legislators this summer (Conaboy and Kowalczyk, 3/14).

Kansas Health Institute News: Governor's Budget Amendment Would Beef Up KanCare Plan
Gov. Sam Brownback has asked the Legislature to amend his original budget recommendations for the coming fiscal year to include an additional $3.4 million to beef up his administration's Medicaid makeover plan. ... [T]he request includes $1 million for a statewide education campaign aimed at Medicaid providers and clients. ... The budget amendment also would add $2.4 million to update the state's Medicaid billing system (3/13).

New Orleans Times-Picayune: Today at the Capitol: Senators Take First Crack At State Medicaid Overhaul
Unlike his approach to the slate of education proposals that will dominate the 2012 legislative session, Gov. Bobby Jindal did not mount much of a public campaign before he decided to shift more than $2 billion of state Medicaid business to private insurers during his first term.  But the move to private managed-care, which went live Feb. 1, is no less significant a shift in public policy than Jindal's sweeping proposals for K-12 education. To date, the new model ranks as Jindal's most significant privatization of government functions (Barrow, 3/13).

Colorado Public Radio: Nurses: Punishment Doesn't Fit The Crime
This year's legislative session has been edge-of-your-seat stuff for about 300 Colorado nurses. They're rooting for a bill created just for them. It restores their ability to write prescriptions. These are so-called "Advance Practice Nurses" (Whitney, 3/13).

Des Moines Register: HIV Insurance Fix Passes In The Iowa Senate
A fix to a program that is denying health care coverage to an estimated 100 HIV-positive residents in Iowa passed in the Iowa Senate this afternoon after initially failing. The bill, Senate File 2293, generally updates law to the state's insurance division. But it also includes what some say is a fix to a $35 million state program charged with insuring Iowans with pre-existing conditions that is denying coverage to HIV-positive residents (Clayworth, 3/13).

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