KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Medicaid News: Kansas Insurer Says ‘No’ To Medicaid

Medicaid coverage is making news in Kansas, Connecticut and Colorado.

McClatchy/The Kansas City Star: Kansas' Largest Insurer Declines Participation In Brownback's Medicaid Reform
The state of Kansas' largest insurance company has decided it doesn't want to participate in Gov. Sam Brownback's plan to move Medicaid patients into privatized managed-care programs. In a letter addressed "Dear provider," Angie Strecker, director of institutional relations for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas, said the insurer "has decided not to submit a proposal to the state to be a Medicaid contractor" (Lefler, 2/2).

The CT Mirror: Advocates Challenge DSS Denial Of 'Habilitation' Services For Children
When she was younger, Natalia Caraballo used some words and sign language to communicate. But around her 2nd birthday, Natalia, who has Down syndrome and autism, stopped speaking and started making less eye contact with those around her. Her parents hoped to continue the intensive therapy Natalia, now 4, had received through an early intervention program. But their insurance, HUSKY, the state's Medicaid program, denied coverage for the services, known as applied behavioral analysis, saying that the services were for "habilitation" purposes, not rehabilitation. … Child and patient advocates say it's a misinterpretation of federal law that could have damaging implications for poor children born with disabilities and prove costly to taxpayers (Levin Becker, 2/2).

Kansas Health Institute: Dental Association Says New Program Will Increase Access In Rural Areas
The Kansas Dental Association is launching a new effort to address a shortage of dentists in some rural parts of the state. Association officials hope to recruit three dentists by May to participate in a student-loan repayment program that would provide each of them $50,000 to practice in localities designated as "dental deserts" by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment's Bureau of Oral Health. Those selected would be required to remain in the program for three to four years and agree to devote at least 35 percent of their practices to serving low-income and Medicaid patients. Currently, only about 25 percent of Kansas dentists accept Medicaid patients (McLean, 2/2).

The Associated Press/Denver Post: Colorado May Revive Circumcision Funding
Circumcisions for Colorado boys could again be covered by Medicaid, a year after circumcisions were eliminated to save money. A Senate committee voted 6-3 Thursday to restore circumcisions as a covered medical procedure for Medicaid recipients. If approved, the change would cost Colorado some $230,000 a year (2/2).

Health Policy Solutions: Senate Committee Votes To Restore Medicaid Funds For Circumcision
Despite the spirited testimony of seven opponents to routine circumcision, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee Thursday voted 6 to 3 to restore Medicaid funding for the procedure. A change in the long bill, the budget document developed by the Joint Budget Committee, dropped funding for the procedure last year, making Colorado one of 18 states to defund circumcision under Medicaid (Carman, 2/2).

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