A selection of health policy stories from Michigan, Connecticut, West Virginia, California, Vermont and Kansas.
Detroit Free Press: Recast Blue Cross Blue Shield As A Tax-Paying Insurance Company, Snyder Proposes
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan would no longer be exempt from about $100 million a year in state and local taxes but would be subject to more streamlined and speedier rate reviews and approvals under legislation proposed today by Gov. Rick Snyder. The nonprofit health insurer would also pay $1.5 billion over 18 years into a separate nonprofit aimed at tackling issues such as obesity and infant mortality to improve the health of all Michigan residents, Snyder said at a news conference. Snyder is proposing legislation that would make BCBS a mutual insurance company while maintaining its nonprofit status. Blue Cross Blue Shield issued a statement saying it is open to considering the proposal. Attorney General Bill Schuette issued a statement saying the proposal needs a thorough review. Snyder said the special status accorded BCBS under 1980 legislation as the "insurer of last resort" is outdated (Egan, 9/11).
The CT Mirror: A 'Bittersweet' End: Historic Merger Creates One Of The Nation's Largest Hospitals
Yale-New Haven is set to acquire the hospital formally at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, becoming one 12,000-employee, 1,519-bed entity. Officials signed documents at a 2 p.m. press event Tuesday at Yale-New Haven Hospital (YNHH). The signatures capped two years of negotiations and approvals. Officials touted the takeover as the way to save financially drowning St. Raphael's, cut costs overall and strengthen a top employer in the New Haven economy's growing health-care sector (Bailey, 9/11).
The Associated Press: W. Va. Lawmakers Scrutinize Chiropractor Board
A new report says West Virginia needs to regulate chiropractors, but questions the performance of the agency assigned that task. Lawmakers were told Tuesday that the Board of Chiropractic has failed to notify licensees about complaints pending against them. The people who file complaints have been left in the dark as well (9/11).
California Watch: State's Political Watchdog To Investigate Another Health District Official
California's political watchdog agency is investigating a Fremont health care district official to determine whether he violated the state's conflict-of-interest laws. Michael Wallace, president of the Washington Township Health Care District board, is also the chairman of the board of Fremont Bank, which has received more than $1 million in fees from the taxpayer-funded district. Wallace declined to comment on the investigation (Mieszkowski, 9/12).
The Associated Press: Vt. Sees Growing Hospital ER Use For Psychiatry
The number of mentally ill Vermonters being held in hospital emergency rooms for lack of a mental health bed is "heading in the wrong direction," the state's top mental health official told lawmakers Tuesday. Mental Health Commissioner Patrick Flood told the Legislature's Joint Mental Health Oversight Committee that instances in which mental health beds were not available and patients were held in hospital emergency rooms grew from 15 in June to 22 in July and 24 in August (Gram, 9/12).
Kansas Health Institute News: KDHE Officials Release Information Sought By JoCo Commission
Officials at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment said today that they had released additional information from the state's Medicaid managed care contracts sought in an Open Records request filed last week by the Johnson County Commission. That information followed an earlier release requested by county officials of cost proposals submitted to the state by Amerigroup, Sunflower State Health Plan and United Healthcare, the insurance companies that signed KanCare contracts with the state. State officials said they sent the earlier information to the county officials on Friday. Johnson County officials confirmed Monday that they received that information and were still looking through it on Tuesday (Shields, 9/11).
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.