A selection of health policy stories from North Carolina, California, Michigan and Missouri.
The New York Times: Public Hospitals Hope To Attract More Upscale Patients Under Affordable Care Act
But to the Health and Hospitals Corporation, the city's public hospital agency, it is not merely another insurance plan. The corporation created MetroPlus, and sees it as a powerful opportunity to attract a different class of patients -- somewhat higher-income, more educated and more stable -- to a system whose historic mission has been to serve the poor, and whose finances have been straining. … Around the country, a number of public health systems and charity hospitals serving large numbers of poor patients see the health exchanges, created by the states under the act, as a way to widen their customer base. In Los Angeles, L.A. Care, a publicly run health plan, has enrolled about 8,000 people so far via the California exchange. The Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, which has roots in organized labor and the auto industry, has signed up about 4,000 people in its exchange plans (Hartocollis, 1/15).
The Associated Press: N.C. Medicaid Advisory Panel Takes Public Comment
Influential players in North Carolina's medical community lined up Wednesday behind a proposal that largely retains the current Medicaid payment method but shifts slightly the risk for cost overruns to providers. The North Carolina Medical Society and North Carolina Hospital Association also joined other advocates for medical professionals and consumers at a public hearing opposing a more dramatic overhaul through managed care pushed earlier by Gov. Pat McCrory's administration (Robertson, 1/15).
Raleigh News & Observer: Health Care Providers Support Medicaid Changes That Stop Short Of Managed Care
State hospitals, doctors and pharmacies united Wednesday in support of Medicaid changes that stop short of full managed care but would reward them for quality, cost-conscious care. An advisory committee on state Medicaid changes heard from nearly 50 speakers Wednesday as it gathered more information on potential changes to the government health insurance program for low-income children and their parents, the elderly and disabled (Bonner, 1/15).
The Associated Press: Panel OKs Higher Heath Costs For Michigan Workers
The Michigan Civil Service Commission voted Wednesday to impose higher health care costs on about 32,000 unionized Michigan government workers. Roughly 70 percent of Michigan's 47,000 employees have union representation. The commission voted 3-1 at its meeting in Lansing to accept wage increases and health benefit terms that an impasse panel had recommended. Commissioners postponed the decision Dec. 18 after deadlocking 2-2 on an alternate proposal that excluded some health care cuts (1/15).
St. Louis Today: Missouri Legislators Weigh Coverage Of Anti-Cancer Drugs
Treating cancer with a pill is more convenient and has fewer side effects than intravenous chemotherapy, cancer patients and their advocates say. Now, they hope to make it more affordable as well. A bill filed in the Missouri Legislature would bar insurance companies from charging higher out-of-pocket costs for oral anti-cancer medications than for intravenous medications (Young, 1/16).
The California Health Report: Blue Zoning For Better Health
Healthy choices aren't always easy, but three California cities may be having some success in nudging residents towards better eating and exercise habits. Three years ago in Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach and Hermosa Beach restaurants began offering lower calorie menu choices. They promoted salads and fruit over French fries and grocery stores highlighted healthy foods. Schools also set up "walking school buses"; cities added bike paths. Smoking bans were extended. The changes are part of the Blue Zones project, adopted by the Beach Cities Health District (Renner, 1/16).
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.