A selection of health policy stories from Florida, Oregon, California, New York, Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota and New Jersey.
The Associated Press: One-Third In Florida Chose Medicaid Plan
Only about one-third of Medicaid recipients transitioning into managed care statewide chose their own health insurance plans. Enrollment for the general population started in May and ended in August. Consumers received a letter in the mail two months before enrollment and were given at least 30 days to choose an insurance plan. Those who did not choose a plan were automatically enrolled into a plan by state health officials (Kennedy, 8/21).
The Oregonian: Oregon Health Reforms Threatened By New Federal Directive, Officials Say
Federal officials have thrown a wrench into the state's high-stakes reforms to the Oregon Health Plan, threatening a program that serves one in four Oregonians. A new directive could eventually even force the state to return hundreds of millions of dollars received from the federal government -- money that's already largely spent. The federal agency that holds the purse strings for care of nearly 1 million low-income Oregon Health Plan members recently harshly criticized the state's system for distributing money to regional coordinated care organizations under the reforms (Budnick, 8/21).
The Washington Post: One Of The Nation's Most Expensive Ballot Campaigns Is Heating Up
California is the location of what ... may become the two most expensive ballot campaigns of this election cycle and one of them is heating up this week. Proposition 46 pits doctors against trial lawyers in a battle over raising the limit on malpractice payouts, a fight that has already raised $61.5 million on both sides. The vast majority of the money -- roughly $56 million, according to Ballotpedia -- has been raised by groups opposed to the measure, financed by professional associations and large insurance companies. This week, the group that has raised more than 99 percent of that money is launching its first TV and radio ads in English and Spanish (Chokshi, 8/21).
The Associated Press: NY City Council Passes Bill On Rikers Transparency
The City Council on Thursday passed a bill that would force correction officials to publish information about Rikers Island jail inmates in solitary confinement, including any injuries suffered behind bars and the state of their mental health. The legislation awaits the signature of Mayor Bill de Blasio, who supports it (8/21).
St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Hospital Mistakes Get Harder For Missouri Patients To Find
Medicare has stopped providing information about eight serious medical errors in hospitals, including wrong blood type transfusions, patient falls and foreign objects left in patients' bodies after surgery. The count of medical errors for each hospital was recently removed from the federal agency's Hospital Compare website, in part because the data were considered inaccurate. The agency is working on new ways to collect and present the information, according to a Medicare spokesman. Other poor outcomes, including bed sores, blood clots and catheter infections, are still included on the website (Bernhard, 8/21).
Des Moines Register: Cancer Society: Iowa Should Target Tanning Beds, Tobacco
The American Cancer Society wants Iowa legislators to take stronger action against tobacco and tanning beds. The national group on Thursday released an annual report card, which said Iowa met just three of 12 benchmarks for fighting cancer.The report noted that Iowa lawmakers increased spending on anti-tobacco programs by $100,000, to $5.1 million. But it said that level is only 17 percent of what federal experts recommend. "It certainly doesn't come close to what tobacco companies are spending to market their products," Jen Schulte, Iowa government relations director for the group's Cancer Action Network, said in a prepared statement (Leys, 8/21).
ProPublica: In California, Some Efforts To Toughen Oversight Of Assisted Living Falter
California legislators and activists say attempts to reform the state's troubled assisted living industry are being obstructed -; and they are placing much of the blame on the administration of Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown. Early this year lawmakers began crafting more than a dozen bills intended to strengthen California's oversight of the state's roughly 7,700 assisted living facilities, which provide housing and day-to-day help to seniors and people with disabilities (Thompson, 8/21).
Chicago Sun Times: Cubs Cut Grounds Crew's Hours To Avoid Paying Health Benefits
Thanks a lot, Obama. Add the Affordable Care Act – or, specifically, the big-business Cubs' response to it – to the causes behind Tuesday night's tarp fiasco and rare successful protest by the San Francisco Giants. The staffing issues that hamstrung the grounds crew Tuesday during a mad dash with the tarp under a sudden rainstorm were created in part by a wide-ranging reorganization last winter of game-day personnel, job descriptions and work limits designed to keep the seasonal workers – including much of the grounds crew – under 130 hours per month, according to numerous sources with direct knowledge. That's the full-time worker definition under "Obamacare," which requires employer-provided health care benefits for "big businesses" such as a major league team (Wittenmyer, 8/21).
The Boston Globe: 'Concierge Medicine' Service Says Rival Has Monopoly
Two companies are battling in court over the Greater Boston market for premium health care services known as "concierge medicine," a lucrative business that is growing nationally even as the broader industry comes under pressure to control costs. Concierge practices charge patients annual fees -- typically about $1,500 to $1,800 -- for quick access to, and more time with, their doctors. The national leader in concierge medicine, MDVIP Inc. of Florida, dominates the Boston market. Its smaller competitor, SignatureMD Inc. of California, has sued to break MDVIP's grip in Boston and other metropolitan areas (McCluskey, 8/22).
The Boston Globe: At Health Care Forum, Coakley Defends Partners Deal
Under attack from gubernatorial rivals at a forum Wednesday night, Attorney General Martha Coakley defended her decision to allow Partners HealthCare to acquire South Shore Hospital and Hallmark Health System instead of filing a lawsuit to stop the merger. She said the agreement -- which still must be approved by a judge -- would help "put a net over the bigness of Partners" and reduce the rise of health care costs (Miller, 8/21).
Minnesota Public Radio: Health Care Success Cuts Revenue To Uptown Clinic, Forcing It To Close
A clinic in Minneapolis that provides medical care to thousands of uninsured and underinsured people is closing its doors next week, in large part because more people are obtaining health insurance through the Affordable Care Act and seeking care elsewhere. When the Neighborhood Involvement Program shuts down Aug. 29, the 3,000 patients that visit its Uptown clinic will be without a medical provider. But its dental and mental health clinics, as well as its senior and youth programs, will continue operating in Uptown (Sepic, 8/22).
Politico Pro: Study Looks At Impact Of Massachusetts Individual Mandate
The individual mandate obligates people to buy health insurance, although whether it actually drives down uninsured rates remains unclear. Yet researchers are increasingly able to isolate the areas where it is making a difference, drawing lessons from the Massachusetts experience under Romneycare. The latest numbers were discussed Thursday during a webinar sponsored by the University of Minnesota's State Health Access Data Assistance Center (Wheaton, 8/21).
The Wall Street Journal's CFO Journal: A Patient-Focused Health Care CFO
In the health care industry, CFOs have to preserve or improve patient care while meeting financial goals. Robert Glenning, chief financial officer for Hackensack University Health Network, which runs the largest hospital in New Jersey with 10,000 employees, spoke to CFO Journal's John Kester about how the he prioritizes saving patients over saving money and how the Affordable Care Act is affecting the hospital business (Kester, 8/22).
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.