A collection of health policy stories from Minnesota, Kansas, California, Florida, Georgia and New York.
Minnesota Public Radio: Proposed Rules Would Ban Emergency Room Debt Collection
The U.S. Department of Treasury released proposed regulations Monday that would ban debt collection activities in the emergency rooms of non-profit hospitals. The proposed restriction comes in the wake of a lawsuit by Minnesota's attorney general alleging Fairview Health Systems former contractor, Accretive Health hit up patients in emergency rooms for payment before treatment. The Treasury Department has proposed adding regulations to a part of the federal health care law to protect patients from abusive collection practices (Stawicki, 6/25).
Kansas Health Institute: Future Uncertain For Kansas Prescription Drug Monitoring Program
Since the launch of the state's electronic monitoring program early last year, officials at the Kansas Board of Pharmacy have fielded more than 156,000 digital queries from a growing number of doctors and pharmacists who use K-TRACS to check on possible prescription abuse by their patients. Despite its apparent success, the prescription drug monitoring program faces extinction as early as this fall when the federal grant money that has sustained it ends, said Christina Morris, the program's director (Sherry, 6/25).
Bay Area News Group/San Jose Mercury News: Last Ditch Effort To Block Plan To Dissolve Healthy Families
Advocates on Monday made a last ditch effort to persuade Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic leaders to back down from a plan to eliminate Healthy Families, the medical insurance program that serves children from low-income working families. Axing the program to save tens of millions of dollars is a key provision in the budget that Brown and Democrats worked out last week as part of an agreement that spared more painful cuts to safety net programs for the poor. More than 900,000 children would be required to change to the Medi-Cal system over the next year and a half, forcing them to find new doctors in what critics say is an already overwhelmed system (Harmon, 6/25).
Kaiser Health News: Dropping Legal Barriers Doesn't Guarantee Interstate Insurance Sales
Starting next week, any health insurer licensed in Georgia can sell policies it offers in other states to Georgians. That includes policies that don't meet minimum standards for coverage in Georgia. … While its cross-state insurance provision is scheduled to go into effect next week, not one insurance company has taken the state up on its offer to sell here (Burress, 6/25).
Sacramento Bee: U.S. Mental Health Programs Little Help To Latinos, UC Davis Study Says
The study, released at UC Davis' Mind Institute in Sacramento, takes a long, hard look at current best practices, based on evidence, and how well they translate in California's growing Latino communities, projected to comprise 52 percent of the state's population by 2050. The short answer: Western medicine's best doesn't seem well tailored to reduce mental health care disparities in Latino communities, a stubborn problem in which the population has been underserved and lacking quality care for decades (Craft, 6/26).
California Healthline: California Physician Groups Vow To Continue Reforming, Regardless
In a meeting with national representatives last week, members of the California Association of Physician Groups detailed their patient care coordination efforts and pledged to move forward no matter what the U.S. Supreme Court says about the Affordable Care Act. ... For last week's meeting, CAPG invited lawmakers for an overview of members' efforts to coordinate care in California. Don Crane, president and CEO of CAPG, said members of his organization have been delivering coordinated care in California for decades, "and they are going to continue to do that irrespective of what the Supreme Court does" (Marchand, 6/25).
California Healthline: Medicare For All Takes Show On The Road
Neither the Affordable Care Act nor the challenges it faces in the Suprme Court has stopped the wheels from turning for the California Nurses Association, Physicians for a National Health Program and Campaign for a Healthy California. The three organizations took to the road last week on a three-week, statewide bus tour to rally for single-payer, national health system -- "Medicare for All." Akin to the Canadian system, which sprouted in Saskatchewan in the 1940s and quickly spread to other provinces, Medicare for All would replace private insurance with a single public agency paying medical claims – not much different than how Medicare operates today for senior adults (Edlin, 6/26).
Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Georgians With Medicare Saved $102 Million On Prescription Drugs
Elderly and disabled Georgians have saved more than $102 million on prescription drugs under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, federal officials said Monday. Some 20,516 people with Medicare in Georgia saved an average of $634 this year on prescription drugs in the donut hole coverage gap, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Nationwide, 5.2 million-plus Americans with Medicare have saved more than $3.7 billion on prescription drugs in the donut hole under the health care law (Williams, 6/25).
The New York Times: City Hall Budget Deal, For Now, Includes Few Layoffs And No Tax Increases
The budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 will be about $500 million more than the current one. That increase, the city said, resulted primarily from a $2 billion rise in costs that the city said it could not control, like those of pensions, health care, Medicaid and debt service (Chen, 6/25).
Los Angeles Times: San Diego Neighbors Oppose Veterans Treatment Center
A plan for a 40-bed treatment center for military veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury has run into opposition from neighborhood groups and a nearby charter school (Perry, 6/25).
This article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.