A selection of health policy stories from North Carolina, New York, Massachusetts, Florida, Kansas, Missouri, Virginia and Colorado.
The Associated Press: NC Health Agency Mapping Medicaid Overhaul Plan
Gov. Pat McCrory's health agency is backing away from initial proposals to fix Medicaid costs by hiring a handful of big managed care organizations to run North Carolina's $13 billion health care system. The state Department of Health and Human Services on Wednesday presented its framework for revamping Medicaid to an advisory group set up by McCrory (Dalesio, 2/26).
Raleigh News & Observer: State Proposes Experimental Health Networks For Medicaid Patients
State officials (in North Carolina) rolled out a plan Wednesday for changes in the state Medicaid program that are a huge step away from the managed-care proposal Gov. Pat McCrory and top state Department of Health and Human Services officials pitched last year. The new proposal avoids a fight with doctors, hospitals and other health care providers over the future of the $13 billion government health insurance program that covers about than 1.7 million poor children and their parents, and elderly and disabled people (Bonner, 2/26).
CQ HealthBeat: Revisions Weighed To Model Law On Adequacy Of Provider Networks
The nation's insurance regulators are considering changes to their recommendations for state laws that ensure that consumers have enough providers to choose from in health insurance networks. The discussion comes amid criticism about how narrow some provider networks are in plans offered through the marketplaces created by the health law (Adams, 2/26).
Politico: Planned Parenthood Reveals Big 2014 Game Plan
The political arm of Planned Parenthood is preparing to launch its largest campaign offensive ever, targeting more than a dozen states and some of the cycle's top Senate and gubernatorial races to raise the alarm about the stakes of the 2014 midterm elections for women's health care and abortion rights (Burns, 2/27).
The Associated Press/Wall Street Journal: NY Advocates Urge Funding To Prevent Lung Cancer
With survival rates for prostate, skin and breast cancer now topping 90 percent, New York health advocates lobbied Wednesday to restore state funding against far deadlier lung cancer and tobacco smoke carcinogens. The national five-year survival rate for lung cancer has risen only from 12 percent to 17 percent over nearly three decades, according to the American Cancer Society. That compares with survival increases from 75 to 90 percent for breast cancer, 68 to 100 percent for prostate cancer and from 82 to 93 percent for melanoma, the most serious of three common skin cancers (2/26).
Kaiser Health News: Mass. Patients Can 'Shop' For Health Care -- At Least In Theory
Here's an essential question: Is it possible to actually list prices for childbirth, MRIs, stress tests and other medical procedures? And will patients, armed with health care prices, begin to shop around for where (and when) they 'buy' care? Massachusetts is trying to find out with a new requirement that hospitals and doctors tell patients how much things cost, if they ask (Bebinger, 2/26).
Health News Florida: ER Visits For Dental Woes Rising
The number of Floridians treated in hospital emergency departments for tooth problems that could have been treated in a dental office or clinic -- or better yet, prevented altogether -- rose to more than 139,000 in 2012, according to a study released Wednesday. The total was up by 8,000 over the year before, the Florida Public Health Institute reported (2/26).
Health News Florida: Trauma Drama Likely To Continue
The Florida Department of Health appears ready to move forward with a new proposal about divvying up trauma centers across the state, but the proposal could spur more battles in the courts and spill into the Legislature. Department officials held a hearing Tuesday about a proposed rule that would determine how many trauma centers would be allowed in 19 separate areas of the state. DOH still wants to consider "community support" as a factor in the decision, while opponents say medical need should be the overriding concern (2/26).
Kansas Health Institute: Insurance Commissioner Weighs In On Health Care Compact Bill
Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger today jumped into the political tussle over proposed legislation that would add Kansas to a list of Republican-led states that are petitioning Congress for authority to oversee Medicaid, Medicare and other health care programs now mostly controlled by the federal government. Praeger, a Republican whose support of the Affordable Care Act has put her at odds with many in her party, issued a news release to warn consumers about the bill's potential to "jeopardize" Medicare (McLean, 2/26).
St. Louis Post Dispatch: Missouri Introduces Fix To Newborn Medicaid Enrollment
An organizational issue that delayed Medicaid coverage for newborns might be remedied, according to the Missouri Department of Social Services. If a pregnant woman has Medicaid coverage, her baby is automatically eligible for the government insurance program for the poor for one year after birth (Kulash, 2/27).
The Richmond Times-Dispatch: House, Senate Ready For Showdown On Mental Health Bills
The House of Delegates has set the stage for a showdown with the Senate over extending the time limit for someone to be held in emergency custody for a mental health evaluation. The House rejected Senate amendments on Wednesday that would quadruple the time limit from six to 24 hours, insisting instead on its decision to extend custody orders an additional two hours for a total of eight. The next step comes today, when the House is expected to act on Senate Bill 260, proposed by Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, D-Bath, whose family tragedy in November triggered a flurry of legislative attention to Virginia's fragmented mental health system (Martz, 2/27).
Health News Colorado: 'Unfettered Nursing' Required For Coloradans Desperate For Care
When Karen Zink opened Southwest Women's Health Associates for primary care and women's health in Durango in 1989, it was one of the first nurse practitioner owned and operated practices in the U.S. But it's only been since 2010 that Zink has been able to practice without a doctor's supervision. Zink and other advanced practice nurses in Colorado and throughout the United States say their medical training and expertise can help meet the burgeoning demand for primary health care. But they argue that resistance from physicians and a slow-to-change insurance industry are creating unnecessary obstacles (Hoback, 2/26).
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.