KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Sebelius Casts Doubt On Calif. Medi-Cal Changes; Other State Actions Scrutinized

Medicaid cuts in California, Washington and Texas prove controversial, while changes or proposed changes in Florida, Georgia and Minnesota get closer looks.

Los Angeles Times: Brown Gets No Promise Of Federal Help For Medi-Cal
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Sunday threw cold water on Gov. Jerry Brown's plan to ask California's poor to contribute to their federally subsidized health care — payments the governor has proposed to save the state more than $500 million a year (York, 2/26).

The Wall Street Journal: Medicaid Cuts Rile Doctors
A plan by Washington state's Medicaid agency to stop paying for certain emergency-room visits is prompting pushback from hospitals and doctors, who say they will be stuck with bills for vital care they often are legally required to provide (Mathews, 2/25).

The Hill: Texas Dem Hammers Gov. Perry's New Anti-Abortion Medicaid Funding Rule
A senior Texas Democrat hammered GOP Gov. Rick Perry this week over new rules blocking Medicaid funding to providers affiliated with abortion services. Rep. Lloyd Doggett suggested the move is a direct threat to the roughly 130,000 low-income women who receive cancer screenings and other preventive services under the state's Women's Health Program, which could crumble without the federal funds (Lillis, 2/25).

Health News Florida: WellCare: Free At Last?
After holding out for years, the chief whistleblower in the long-running case against WellCare Health Plans has removed his objection to a settlement of civil fraud charges with the federal government and nine states. ... When the Hellein lawsuit was unsealed in June 2010, ... [it alleged]: --WellCare conducted a study to figure out which Medicaid recipients were profitable and which were not so that it could engage in "cherry-picking" ... WellCare moved money between accounts to make it appear that patients' treatment cost much more than it actually did (Gentry, 2/24). 

Georgia Health News: Medicaid Task Force To Focus On Kids, Families
State officials have created a third task force to discuss proposals for a revamp of Medicaid and PeachCare services in Georgia. The new grouping will focus on children and families. Like the other two task forces, members will be asked to give input on a consulting firm’s report on the future of the two government health insurance programs (Miller, 2/24). 

(St. Paul) Pioneer Press: Senator Nienow Seeks Congressional Inquiry Into Minnesota’s Handling Of Medicaid Program
A state senator is asking Congress to investigate whether Minnesota's version of the Medicaid health insurance program has been manipulating a rate certification process in order to receive excess federal funds. Sen. Sean Nienow, R-Cambridge, wrote in a letter this month to U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, that a Congressional inquiry would be "extremely useful." "The misdirection or misallocation of federal funding is stealing and a serious problem which must be addressed if it is taking place," Nienow wrote in the letter, which was dated Feb. 18 (Snowbeck, 2/24).

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