A selection of health policy stories from the District of Columbia, Virginia, Georgia and Illinois.
The Washington Post: Options DC Charter School's Medicaid Billing Is At Center Of Investigation
Federal investigators are looking into whether former leaders of the District's Options Public Charter School committed Medicaid fraud by, among other things, exaggerating the needs of its disabled students and paying students with gift cards to ride school buses, according to several people familiar with the criminal investigation (Brown and Marimow, 12/16).
The Washington Post: Gov. Robert McDonnell Unveils Two-Year Spending Plan For Virginia That Tops $96 Billion
Outgoing Gov. Robert F. McDonnell trumpeted hefty cash reserves and investments in education and mental health Monday as he unveiled a two-year, $96 billion proposed budget that also makes some cuts to schools and hospitals. The budget is $10 billion larger than the current budget, with much of the added spending directed to Medicaid, K-12 education and state employee retirement and insurance programs. The state's contingency fund also gets a boost, reflecting tepid economic growth and cuts to military spending that have defense-heavy Virginia bracing for a downturn (Vozzella, 12/16).
Georgia Health News: Frustration Grows Over Delay in Docs' Pay Raise
Nearly a year after it was supposed to take effect, the physician pay hike for Medicaid services still hasn't been fully implemented in Georgia and other states. The delays have come in states, including Georgia, that use managed care in their Medicaid programs, a physicians organization says. The Affordable Care Act created the pay hike with the goal of reimbursing family physicians, internists and pediatricians the same for Medicaid services as they receive under Medicare (Miller, 12/16).
The Chicago Sun-Times: Same-Sex Couples Can Marry Now With Doctors' Note: Federal Judge
Same-sex couples in which one or both partners has a life-threatening illness now don't have to wait until June to get married in Illinois. U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman Monday ordered Cook County Clerk David Orr's office to immediately begin issuing marriage licenses to qualifying couples. Though the suit -- brought by two Chicago couples -- names Orr's office, the ruling applies statewide and could potentially affect hundreds of couples, gay rights advocates say. Illinois last month became the 16th state to legalize gay marriage, but most couples can't apply for licenses until June 1 (Esposito, 12/16).
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.