A selection of health policy stories from California, North Carolina, Illinois, Wisconsin, Virginia, Texas and Colorado.
Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Advocates Say California Is Rejecting 'Free Money' To Renew Poor People's Insurance
Consumer advocates and some legislators were surprised and frustrated when California health officials recently refused a $6 million donation to help people re-up their Medi-Cal health coverage. Now two senators have proposed an unusual solution: a bill to force the state to accept the offer from The California Endowment (Gorman, 7/4).
Charlotte Oberserver: With A Disabled Son, Cary Mom Wants A Voice In NC Medicaid Changes
Early last year, the state Department of Health and Human Services asked for the public's input on reforming Medicaid. Colleen Leonard, the mother of a severely disabled teenager, Mason, wanted to have her say. She sees the Medicaid services as a blessing, literally a matter of life and death for her son, who was brain damaged at birth and cannot be left alone. ... Last year, a policy change eliminated weekend hours dedicated to teaching functional skills for Mason, 14, who is severely handicapped and needs constant attention during waking hours. He cannot dress or bathe himself, get a snack or keep himself safe in his own home. Changes proposed this summer by the state Senate could end Mason's in-home services (Neff, 7/4).
Raleigh News & Observer: Medicaid Agency Has Been Perennial Headache
Perhaps Gov. Pat McCrory's biggest inherited headache has been two new computer systems. NCFast is used to sign people up for benefits such as food stamps and Medicaid. Problems with NCFast have led to a backlog in Medicaid applications; officials cannot currently come up with the number of Medicaid recipients in North Carolina, a critical number for estimating future costs. Perhaps an even bigger problem is NCTracks, the state's new Medicaid claims processing system, which was started during Gov. Mike Easley's administration. Two years late and more than $200 million over its original budget, the claims system was troubled from the moment the McCrory administration launched it last July (Neff, 7/5).
The Associated Press: Illinois To Vote On Employer Contraception Coverage
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has signed a November ballot question that'll ask voters if they think prescription drug coverage plans should be required to include birth control. The Chicago Democrat inked the non-binding question Sunday. In a statement, Quinn says a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision on birth control has brought the issue of women's rights to the forefront (7/6).
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Milwaukee Health Services On The Mend
Hit with a string of setbacks that resulted in three years of losses and a painful restructuring, Milwaukee Health Services is again operating in the black, and its chief executive officer is optimistic that a difficult time in its 25-year history is coming to an end. ... But Milwaukee Health Services, which provides primary care and other services to about 27,000 people in some of the city's poorest neighborhoods, must now rebuild -; and that will take time and money (Boulton, 7/5).
The Richmond Times-Dispatch: A Closer Look At Charity Care In Hospitals
Can you explain charity care? Charity care in general is free or discounted care provided to low-income people who qualify for financial assistance. The Virginia Department of Health, through the Certificate of Public Need program, can require hospitals and other providers to do charity care as a condition of having a project approved (Smith, 7/6).
Texas Tribune: In Texas, Less Progress On Reducing Teen Pregnancy
In Texas and across the country, the rate of teenage births has declined significantly since its peak in 1991. Birth rates among teenagers in Texas dropped 43 percent between 1991 and 2012. In states like California and Connecticut, the drop was even larger, and nationwide, the rate declined 52 percent in that period. But despite the improvements in the Lone Star State, it is faring worse than most. ... Teenage birth cost Texas taxpayers $1.1 billion in health care, foster care and lost tax revenue in 2010, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy (MacLaggan, 7/6).
Denver Post: Colorado Claims Contraceptive Program Caused Big Drop In Teen Birth Rates
A state health initiative to reduce teen birth rates by providing more than 30,000 contraceptive devices at low or no cost has led to a 40 percent drop in five years, Gov. John Hickenlooper said Thursday. The Colorado Family Planning Initiative, funded by a private anonymous donor for five years, has provided intrauterine devices and other implants to low-income women at 68 family-planning clinics across Colorado since 2009. The clinics are in local health departments, hospitals and private nonprofit facilities. The program also provided training and technical assistance to family planning clinics statewide (Draper, 7/3).
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.