A selection of health policy stories from Kentucky, Rhode Island, Connecticut, California, Minnesota and Massachusetts.
The Associated Press: Ky. Judge To Review Christian Health Care Case
A judge has scheduled a hearing for later this month in a longstanding dispute between Kentucky and a Christians-only health care plan. The case pits the Kentucky Department of Insurance against Medi-Share, a Florida-based cost-sharing ministry that helps to pay medical bills for churchgoers across the country. Lawyers for the state have asked Franklin County Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate to hold Medi-Share in contempt of court for continuing to operate in Kentucky. Medi-Share asked for a hearing to explain changes the ministry has made to comply with Kentucky insurance regulations (8/6).
The Associated Press/Boston Globe: 4 R.I. Hospitals Cheer Increase In Medicare Money
Four Rhode Island hospitals on Monday celebrated news that the federal government will pay them more money to care for patients on Medicare. Kent Hospital, South County Hospital, Newport Hospital and Westerly Hospital will collectively receive about $7.1 million more for the 2013 fiscal year after the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services increased their Medicare reimbursement rates. Previously, different hospitals in the state had three different reimbursement rates, so hospitals in some cases just a few minutes' drive from each other were paid differently. Hospital officials say that created problems retaining the best workers (8/6).
HealthyCal: Got Docs?
A new county health plan for low-income residents, Riverside County Health Care, created in January 2012, was expected to ease the economic burden and address health disparities. So far, however, it's falling short of expectations. The plan promises a full range of medical services: primary care, mental health services and access to specialists. The idea is that an up-front investment in comprehensive care will have a long-term payoff in fewer emergency room visits and hospital stays. Riverside County, as well as 46 other counties in California, are in the process of rolling out new health plans for the poor-;essentially an expansion of Medicaid-;in anticipation of the full implementation of the federal Affordable Care Act in 2014 (Urevich, 8/6).
Medscape: Mayo Clinic Settles False-Claim Charges For $1.26 Million
The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, last week agreed to pay $1.26 million to settle federal charges of knowingly billing Medicare, Medicaid, and other government health care programs for nonexistent pathology work. The Mayo Clinic says it inadvertently submitted the errant claims until September 2007, when it discovered and corrected its mistake. It reimbursed the government roughly $260,000 about a year later, after receiving a federal subpoena about its pathology billing practices. The payment was voluntary, according to the Mayo Clinic. The settlement reached last Thursday calls on the Mayo Clinic to pay the government an additional $1 million (Lowes, 8/6).
Boston Globe: State Nursing Shortage Worsened In 2011, Report Says
A nursing shortage appears to be on the rise in Massachusetts, according to the latest workforce report from the Massachusetts Hospital Association and the regional chapter of the Organization of Nurse Leaders (Conaboy, 8/6).
California Healthline: Appropriations Committee OKs Oral Chemo Bill
The Senate Committee on Appropriations yesterday approved AB 1000 by Henry Perea (D-Fresno), which requires insurers to cover oral chemotherapy medication. ... The oral chemotherapy bill, after being approved on a 4-1 vote in committee, now heads to the Senate floor for a vote. The biggest question about AB 1000 has not come directly from insurance companies, but from the state's Department of Finance, which has been concerned about the potential cost to California if oral chemotherapy is not included in the essential health benefits package, a concept that is a central underpinning of the health benefit exchange (Gorn, 8/7).
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.