State roundup: Calif. cuts make public health outlook bleak

A selection of stories from California, Maine, Florida, Indiana, Alaska, Massachusetts and Oregon.

Stateline: Indiana Places A Big Bet On Consumer-Driven Health Insurance
One thing [Gov.] Mitch Daniels believes with absolute conviction is that consumers need to pay more of the cost of their health care. ... No one can say Daniels isn't practicing what he preaches. Indiana has been using a version of consumer-driven health care for state employees since 2006. Starting next year, 90 percent of Indiana state workers will be covered by a consumer-driven plan with low premiums and high out-of-pocket expenses for actual care (Vestal, 11/17). 

The Lund Report (Oregon): Provider Groups Ask For Inclusion In Coordinated Care Organizations
Not mincing words, provider groups worried they'll be left out of the coordinated care organizations (CCOs) took their case to the Oregon Health Policy Board last week. But they came away without any assurance. The testimony of representatives from the naturopathic community, surgery centers and preventive reproductive healthcare, both passionate and strongly worded, conveyed a collective concern about the emerging CCOs, which will coordinate the physical, mental and dental care of Oregon Health Plan patients starting next July (Waldroupe, 11/17). 

HealthyCal: LAO: $2 Billion In Triggered Cuts Likely
State revenues will be nearly $4 billion below projections for the current fiscal year, triggering about $2 billion in budget cuts under a deal reached earlier this year between the Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown, the non-partisan Legislative Analyst says in a new forecast released today. ... Among the targets: developmental services, child care, and Medi-Cal (11/16). 

NPR: Emergency Room Closures Hit Minorities, Poor Hardest
Patients in California may find a shuttered glass door the next time they seek out emergency care, as hospitals across the state close emergency rooms. California hospitals that serve large numbers of blacks and Medicaid patients, who often rely on ERs the most, run a higher risk of closing the emergency department, according to an analysis just published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine (Husted, 11/16).

San Francisco Chronicle: SF Health Care Fight May Move From City Hall To The Ballot
Currently, city law requires employers to contribute up to $4,252 a year to a health care reimbursement account for every uninsured worker. However, any unused money by the end of the year can revert back to the employer. ... Under the Chiu-Cohen amendment, which has the backing of business groups, individual workers could accrue up to two years of unused funding in their health care reimbursement accounts (Gordon, 11/16).

California Healthline: Healthy San Francisco's Lessons For National Health Reform
Released in September, Mathematica's in-depth study tracks the first four years of [Healthy San Francisco] and uncovers new patterns in uninsured patients' utilization. The report's most powerful takeaway: San Francisco's non-urgent emergency department visits and preventable hospitalizations have fallen since 2007, in contrast to a surge across the Golden State (Diamond, 11/16). 

The Sacramento Bee: Sutter Medical Foundation Patients' Privacy Breached
A Sutter Medical Foundation computer stolen in mid-October held information on more than 4 million patients, some dating back to 1995, Sutter Health officials said Wednesday. The information, primarily demographic, ... also containing descriptions of medical diagnoses and procedures. ... The breach is immense in its scope (Smith, 11/17).

Health News Florida: Data 'Highway': Road To Nowhere?
As a health IT expert for a national consulting firm, Lindsey Jarrell has tried to get hospitals and doctor groups to share information with one another. But they just plain won't, he says. ... Ironically, Florida was one of the first states to create a Health Information Exchange Network (Gentry, 11/16). 

Related, earlier KHN/WFSU story: Florida Politics Creating Bumps On Health Information 'Highway' (Hatter, 11/10). 

WBUR's CommonHealth blog: Tufts, Blue Cross, Giving Patients A Voice And Re-Imagining The Pie
[C]ontract talks have broken down between Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts and Tufts Medical Center, and if nothing changes, tens of thousands of patients may have to switch doctors or insurance plans next year. This seemed like the perfect moment to turn to Harvard's Program for Health Care Negotiation and Conflict Resolution -; and to Leonard Marcus, Barry Dorn and Eric McNulty, co-authors of the new edition of "Renegotiating Health Care: Resolving Conflict to Build Collaboration" (Goldberg, 11/16). 

CBS (Video): Maine Residents Barter For Health Care
For nearly a decade, True North Medical Center In Falmouth, Maine, has been offering its patients the option of paying with their time -- part of its goal to make care accessible to everyone. For each hour of service patients offer to the community, like Debra (Barth's) afternoon cleaning at the theater, they earn an hour time credit, which they bank with the "Hour Exchange Portland" (Hill, 11/16).

NewsHour (Video): At Tipping Point Of Dental Pain, Mother Makes A Tough Choice
A "quick trip" to the dentist usually means a one-hour flight across southern Alaska for Eva Malvich. ... Several weeks ago, the 42-year-old mother of three also quit her job of 19 years and cashed out her retirement savings to be able to afford the full-scale dental overhaul necessary to reverse her lifelong struggle with tooth decay (Clune and Kane, 11/16).

The Associated Press/The Wall Street Journal: Health Insurance Rate Hike Requests Go Online
Consumers can check out detailed information regarding health insurers' rate hike requests on a new website set up by the [New York] state Department of Financial Services (11/17).


http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis 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.

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