KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Funding Cuts Continue To Plague State Health Programs

State health agencies and Medicaid programs continue to take hits from spending cuts. A new program in Florida may be backfiring against some health workers with criminal records, while a novel health benefits program in Houston hopes to lower the number of uninsured.

The Associated Press: "Previous funding cuts in public health programs mean that a new reduction in state Department of Health Services funding to close a midyear budget shortfall would largely fall on services for the mentally ill and put Arizona in violation of court orders, officials said Monday" (Davenport, 10/20).

The Salt Lake Tribune: "The biggest losers following the Utah Department of Health's recent $51 million budget cut are the poorest people in the state, whose access to health care has dwindled. Most of that money was lopped off Medicaid as part of the state's cuts for fiscal year 2010, which began in July" (Rosetta, 10/20).

The Associated Press/The Miami Herald: "A new state law designed mainly to crack down on Medicaid fraud is having unexpected consequences by keeping some health care professionals from getting or keeping their licenses at a time when the state is suffering a shortage." The law prohibits health workers with old convictions from applying for or renewing their licenses until 15 years after finishing their sentences (Kaczor, 10/21).

The Houston Chronicle: "On Tuesday, the nonprofit Harris County Healthcare Alliance unveiled the TexHealth Harris County 3-Share Plan, which divides monthly premiums among the employer, employee and a subsidy fund. In the program's first two years, a $5.5 million subsidy pool will make coverage affordable for up to 5,000 workers." The new benefits program "promises to put a small dent in the area's massive uninsured ranks" (George, 10/20).

The Associated Press/WSJV (South Bent, Ind.): "Debate continues over whether Michigan should put a 3 percent tax on doctors' gross receipts to raise more money for low-income health care programs. … Supporters, including some doctors, say the tax would give physicians who see Medicaid patients higher reimbursement rates instead of the 8 percent cut contained in Michigan's current budget plan" (10/20).

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