A selection of health policy stories from Minnesota, Florida, Oregon, California, Massachusetts and Georgia.
Minnesota Public Radio: Health Care Spending Slows In Minn.
The state Health Department reports the rate of health care spending in Minnesota has slowed to its lowest point since 1997. Health care costs are still rising, but at a much slower pace -- 2.2 percent between 2009 and 2010. State Health Economist Stefan Gildemeister said the recession was a major factor in why Minnesotans spent less on health care. He said many lost their insurance when they lost their jobs and others who kept their jobs were more cautious (Stawicki, 7/18).
Minneapolis Star Tribune: Minnesota's Health Care Spending Slows
Health care spending in Minnesota rose just 2.2 percent in 2010 -- the slowest annual growth rate since 1997, the Minnesota Department of Health reported Wednesday. Lingering effects of the 2008-09 recession probably explain much of the slowdown, as Minnesotans delayed routine and acute care, according to Health Commissioner Ed Ehlinger. In addition, surveys indicate that many people lost employer health coverage (Walsh and Crosby, 7/18).
The Associated Press/Miami Herald: Fla. Reduces Counties' Medicaid Bills By $171.4M
Florida's counties may reconsider a lawsuit over disputed Medicaid fees because the state has slashed $171.4 million from their bills, a spokeswoman for their statewide association said Wednesday. That cut the disputed amount by more than half -- from $316 million to $146.4 million. (Kaczor, 7/18).
The Lund Report: CDC Grant Program Focuses On Improving The Health Of People With Disabilities
Oregon was one of 18 states to receive the grant awards announced earlier this year, but has actually received funding from the CDC for projects on disability and health since 1994, said Conne-Ward Cameron of the CDC's Center on Birth Defects and Disabilities, who echoed Andresen's sentiment that Oregon's work in this area has been particularly strong. …The current three-year grant, which kicked in at the beginning of this month and will end in 2015, requires states to demonstrate that people with disabilities are included in a mainstream public health program, that they receive preventive health care screening and are included in state-based emergency planning exercises (McCurdy, 7/19).
KQED: For Those Needing Stronger Pain Medications, Bill Spells Relief
A bill that would make it easier for patients to get strong pain medications through their health insurance is making its way through the state legislature. California Watch reporter Christina Jewett says a patient advocacy nonprofit called For Grace is lobbying for the bill, but the group has some powerful supporters (7/18).
San Francisco Chronicle: S.F. Hospital Pact Wins 2-Week Delay
California Pacific Medical Center peered over the brink late Tuesday night and took a step back. Faced with the possibility of receiving a fatal blow to its $2.5 billion proposal to overhaul its medical facilities in San Francisco, the Sutter Health-affiliated medical group requested -- and ultimately got -- a two-week postponement of a vote that it was expected to lose on the environmental impact study for its long-range development plans. The Board of Supervisors unanimously decided, after a six-hour hearing, to grant the reprieve until July 31 after a Sutter Health official pledged to take substantive steps to jump-start stalled negotiations on a range of concerns over California Pacific Medical Center's development plans, including building two seismically safe hospitals (Coté, 7/18).
Boston Globe: UMass Medical School To Manage Health Care At N.C. Federal Prison
The Federal Bureau of Prisons has awarded the University of Massachusetts Medical School a contract to manage comprehensive medical services to about 4,900 inmates at the Federal Medical Center located in Butner, N.C., UMass Medical School said. The agreement, valued at $24.7 million for the first year, represents its largest federal correctional health contract to date, the Worcester school said (Reidy, 7/19).
CommonHealth/WBUR: Uncertain Fate Of Law That Prompted Health Insurance Rebates
There's lovely news in the mail this summer for many Massachusetts residents: The day-brightening surprise of opening an envelope and finding a check for $100 or $200, (Or $104.94, as one happy blogger posted) -; a rebate on health insurance. But the state law that prompted those rebates is up for renewal, and its fate is uncertain (Goldberg, 7/18).
Georgia Health News: How Do We Increase Access To Dental Care?
More than a decade ago, the first U.S. Surgeon General's Report on oral health outlined a "silent epidemic" of dental and oral diseases in the nation. Dental problems affected large numbers of children and adults, and were also linked to major health conditions, said the landmark report, released in 2000. Dr. David Satcher, who was surgeon general at the time and produced the report, said poor Americans and children were especially vulnerable, and that members of racial and ethnic groups had a disproportionate level of oral health problems. Satcher, reflecting on that data 12 years later, says progress has been made in improving access to dental care, including in Georgia (Miller, 7/18).
Minneapolis Star Tribune: Making Decisions For Loved One's Final Days
Sue Schettle has spent the past three years coordinating an ambitious campaign to help Minnesotans make better end-of-life medical choices. … The campaign has enlisted doctors, hospitals, insurers and thousands of patients in the Twin Cities, with fingers stretching to outstate Minnesota and into Wisconsin. Now community and faith groups are joining the effort, and the project has generated a five-part public television series broadcast more than 70 times (Wolfe, 7/19).
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.