A selection of health policy stories from Connecticut, Mississippi, Florida, Illinois, California, Minnesota and Kansas.
CT Mirror: Malloy Shrinks Deficit With Cuts To Social Services, Colleges
Connecticut's social services safety net and its public colleges and universities took the brunt Wednesday of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's first effort to whittle down a $363 million state budget deficit. The administration released $123 million worth of emergency cuts ordered by the governor, including nearly $70 million aimed at health care and social service agencies and $25 million more at public colleges and universities. Technically, the governor used his emergency authority to slice $170 million off the books. But because about $47 million of the cuts announced Wednesday involved spending the administration had planned to cancel to meet miscellaneous savings targets built into the budget, the overall deficit shrank to about $240 million (Phaneuf, Becker and Thomas, 11/28).
The New York Times: Connecticut Aims To Cut $170 Million In Spending
The cuts include nearly $70 million to health care programs and social service agencies, along with $25 million to public colleges and universities. Programs facing reductions included AIDS services, children's health programs, food stamps, funds for magnet schools, housing and homeless services, and services for elderly and disabled residents (Applebome, 11/28).
The Associated Press/Washington Post: Mississippi's Only Abortion Clinic Again Asks U.S. Judge To Block State Law That Could Close It
Attorneys for Mississippi's only abortion clinic are again asking a federal judge to block a state law that could close the facility. In court papers Wednesday, attorneys say despite repeated attempts, Jackson Women's Health Organization has been unable to obtain privileges for most of its physicians to admit patients to a local hospital (11/28).
Reuters: Mississippi's Last Abortion Clinic Faces Closure
Mississippi's sole abortion clinic will have to close unless a federal judge halts a new state law requiring its physicians to obtain admitting privileges to local hospitals, according to a court motion filed on Wednesday. The Jackson Women's Health Organization renewed its request for a federal judge to prevent state officials from enforcing the law, which the clinic said was an unconstitutional attempt to ban abortion in Mississippi (Le Coz, 11/28).
The Palm Beach Post: Advocates Ask Feds To Kick State Out Of Health Care Law Decisions
Advocates who once begged Florida lawmakers to embrace President Barack Obama's health care law are now lobbying federal officials to leave out Florida decision-makers. With little more than a year left to plan major provisions and Florida politicians on record against the law – chief among them Gov. Rick Scott – health care reform advocates argue that programs they fought for may fail in the hands of state leaders. An alliance of state organizations is sending a letter today to the Department of Health and Human Services, asking federal officials to set up an online insurance marketplace, set to go live Jan. 2014, without state input (Elmore and Green, 11/28).
Chicago Sun-Times: City Won't Abandon Retirees On Health Care, Emanuel Says
Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Wednesday he's not about to walk away and leave thousands of retired city employees without city-subsidized health care, but changes must be made to control skyrocketing health care costs. Active city employees will see their monthly health insurance premiums rise by $50 unless they participate in a "wellness program" to manage chronic health problems such as obesity, diabetes and high-blood pressure. That has led to overwhelming levels of participation and what Emanuel has claimed as "north of $100 million" in savings for the city (Spielman, 11/28).
HealthyCal: Salinas Safety Nets Catch Immigrants Dropped By ACA
The Affordable Care Act excludes undocumented immigrants from buying health insurance on state health benefit exchanges. But health care providers in the Salinas Valley are weaving safety nets of their own for medically vulnerable farm and migrant workers who are part of the community and essential to the country's food production (Graebner, 11/28).
California Watch: Health Plans Air Concerns Amid Changes To Kids' Coverage
Under a budget-paring plan crafted by Gov. Jerry Brown and approved by lawmakers, 870,000 children who were covered by the Healthy Families program will be moved to Medi-Cal in phases starting Jan. 1. But it remains unclear whether a health plan serving Sacramento, Fresno, San Diego and Los Angeles counties will have enough doctors to accept the children (Jewett, 11/29).
California Healthline: Uninsured Eligible For Mental Health Services
When major portions of the Affordable Care Act are implemented in 2014, almost all of the 500,000 uninsured Californians who were previously identified as being in need of mental health services will be eligible for those services, either through Medi-Cal expansion or the exchange, according to a study released yesterday by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. "Last year we did a mental health report, and what we found is there are 500,000 or so people in California who are uninsured and in need of mental health services, so this year we wanted to see who among them would be eligible for coverage under the Affordable Care Act," said Imelda Padilla-Frausto, lead author of the report released yesterday (Gorn, 11/29).
Associated Press/Minneapolis Star Tribune: Lawsuit Alleges Minnesota Improperly Paid For 37,000 Elective Abortions For Poor Women
A conservative legal group claims in a lawsuit filed Tuesday, Nov. 27, that Minnesota taxpayers have been wrongfully charged for more than 37,000 elective abortions for indigent women since 1999. The Alliance Defending Freedom argues that state government is allowed to pay for abortions for indigent women only for "therapeutic reasons," including when the life or health of the woman is in danger or in cases of rape or incest, under state laws and a 1995 Minnesota Supreme Court decision. But the group, citing state Health Department data it reviewed, said the state paid for thousands of abortions that it believes did not meet that standard (Karnowski, 11/28).
Kansas Health Institute News: Federal Officials Say They Hope To Act Soon On KanCare Waiver Request
The federal official in charge of reviewing 1115 Medicaid waiver requests sat in on an hour-long conference call today to hear Kansans' views on Gov. Sam Brownback's proposed Medicaid makeover plan. Only about 20 people had time to comment but none of them expressed support for KanCare, which would move virtually all the state's 380,000 Medicaid beneficiaries into managed care plans run by three insurance companies. Most people who called in questioned the need for KanCare and expressed concern that they or family members would lose services or their case managers (Shields, 11/28).
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.