A selection of health policy stories from Connecticut, Mississippi, California, Wisconsin, Florida and North Carolina.
CT Mirror: Bulk Purchasing Of Medication Can Reduce State Budget Deficit, Comptroller Says
The state's chief fiscal watchdog is asking legislators and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's administration to take a second look at how government purchases prescription medication -- and a proposal he believes could save more than $65 million over the next fiscal year. Comptroller Kevin P. Lembo said purchasing of medications in bulk for social service recipients as well as for state employees and retirees is a cost-cutting move that might be implemented as early as this spring, mitigating both the current budget deficit and the projected shortfall for 2013-14 (Phaneuf, 11/26).
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Clarke Lacks Authority To Privatize Inmate Health, Lawyer Says
Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. does not have the power he claims to unilaterally privatize inmate health care at the county jail, according to lawyers for Milwaukee County. Clarke has mistakenly relied on an earlier case on a sheriff's constitutional authority for inmate transport to claim he has similar say-so over inmate health care, Ronald Stadler, a lawyer representing the county, wrote in a legal brief. "He has failed to show that the provision of jail health services is constitutionally protected," Stadler wrote. "Just because Sheriff Clarke says it, does not make it so" (Schultze, 11/26).
Health News Florida: Patients Are Pawns In Contract Fight
Carol White of St. Petersburg and some of her friends spent Monday looking for a new Medicare Advantage plan after BayCare Health System ended its contracts with UnitedHealthcare. … It's not only seniors who got squeezed at midnight Monday when the contract ended between one of the nation's largest health insurers and BayCare, Tampa Bay's dominant non-profit hospital chain. The break-up also affects Medicaid and employer-sponsored coverage -- a total of 400,000 United customers, said Elizabeth Calzadilla-Fiallo, spokeswoman for the Florida division of the Minnesota-based insurer (Gentry, 11/27).
The Associated Press: NC Report Analyzes Child Health In 15 Areas
North Carolina's 2.3 million children are falling behind in some important benchmarks for health, such as the poverty rate, but they're improving in other areas, including the number who have insurance, according to a report issued Monday. The North Carolina Institute of Medicine and Action for Children released the 18th annual Child Health Report Card on Monday, analyzing data in 15 areas. North Carolina got two A's and three D's, compared to three A's and one D in last year's report. The reports compare health indicators from 2010 and 2011 with the same figures from years dating back to 2004 (11/26).
North Carolina Health News: Annual Report Card Shows Poor Economy Hinders Child Health
Even as North Carolina's infant mortality rates improved and rates of childhood death dropped, the health of the state's children is still poor, with high levels of obesity and childhood poverty, according to a report released Monday. The annual report from Action for Children North Carolina and the North Carolina Institute of Medicine details how some traditional measures of childhood health improved over the past five years: immunization rates are up, tobacco use among teens is down and more kids have access to dental care. But as North Carolina slowly climbs out of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, the report details how poverty still impedes the health of North Carolina's children (Hoban, 11/26).
California Healthline: Advocates' Challenge To Adult Day Process Denied
A federal judge ruled last week to deny a motion that would have forced the Department of Health Care Services to alter the way it is handling enrollment in the new Community Based Adult Services program. The ruling means CBAS enrollment will continue without changes unless Disability Rights California, the health advocacy group that filed the motion, appeals the ruling. Deadline for appeal is Friday (Gorn, 11/27).
The Associated Press: Corrections, Medicaid Deficit Hurdles For Mississippi Legislators
Mississippi legislators head into the 2013 session knowing they have deficits to address in corrections and Medicaid. Any others? That's all rather tentative right now about six weeks out from the Jan. 8 start. One thing is certain: the money handlers must be convinced there is a clear need. ... "There's not going to be a significant number of deficits. We know there's going to be one in corrections and one in Medicaid. We've got the money in reserve accounts to cover it," said House Appropriations Committee chairman Herb Frierson, R-Poplarville (11/26).
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.