KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Hospital Fees, Provider Cuts To Steady Medicaid Programs In Ga., Calif. Linger

New hospital fees and provider cuts in Georgia and California aim to make their Medicaid programs more solvent, but fights over details are keeping the plans shelved for now.

The Associated Press: Gov. Deal Pitches Medicaid Money Fix
Gov. Nathan Deal has settled on a proposal that could allow lawmakers to avoid voting directly to extend a high-profile hospital tax that helps provide a significant part of state health care spending. Republican leaders lauded the idea Monday, the opening day of the General Assembly's annual session. But at least one Democratic leader said questions might be raised about the constitutionality of such a move. At issue is the so-called "bed tax," which is an assessment on Georgia hospitals' net patient revenue. The yield — more than $230 million this year — is used as state matching money to secure another $400 million-plus of federal support for the Medicaid insurance program for low-income Georgians (Barrow, 1/14).

Georgia Health News: Bills Aim To Avoid Fight Over Hospital Fee
Legislation that aims to prevent a highly charged debate over the state's hospital provider fee has been officially proposed in the Georgia General Assembly. Identical bills were introduced in the House and Senate. The exact text was not available electronically as of early Monday evening. But a draft of the legislation shows that if approved, the bills would transfer the authority to levy the Medicaid hospital assessment from the Legislature to the state Department of Community Health (Miller, 1/14).

California Healthline: Provider Rate Cut Case May Linger
The state budget proposed by Gov. Brown counts on $488.4 million in savings from rate reductions to Medi-Cal providers in keeping with a law passed in 2011 that hasn't yet been implemented because it's been held up in court. Last month, a three-judge panel in federal Circuit Court overruled previous injunctions issued by federal appellate judges. However, the injunctions will remain in place and provider reimbursements won't be cut at least until the end of this month. Litigants in each of the four lawsuits have until Jan. 28 to file a re-hearing request (Gorn, 1/15).

In Florida, a plan for senior enrollment into Medicaid managed plans starts to take shape --

Health News Florida: Rollout Posted For Frail Elderly To Enter HMOs
The region that includes Orlando and Melbourne will be the first in the state to enroll its frail elderly patients who are on Medicaid into managed-care plans, the Agency for Health Care Administration announced Monday. A map on AHCA's website offers a guide as to which counties are included in the rollout, which hinges on approval by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for Florida's requests for a waiver of federal law for its Statewide Medicaid Managed Care program (Gentry, 1/14).

And Kansas hospitals worry about losing charity care money from Medicaid --

Kansas Health Institute: Kansas Hospital Worried About Loss Of Dollars For Charity Care
Many Kansas hospital officials say they are worried that if state policymakers choose not to expand eligibility for the state's Medicaid program, the hospitals will see a significant drop in the money they receive to help care for patients who can't or won't pay their medical bills. Currently, 64 of the state's 127 hospitals divide about $51.3 million a year in what are called Medicaid disproportionate share payments. They use the money, a mix of federal and state dollars, to offset some of the costs of caring for the uninsured. ... Under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, those payments are to be significantly reduced, starting in October (Ranney, 1/14).

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