Roundup: Ga. 'provider fee' defeat could mean $430M less for Medicaid; Minn. health programs in line for $37M cut over fiscal cliff; Calif. stem cell board criticized

Georgia Health News: Defeat On Provider Fee Could Gut Hospitals' Finances
Just weeks before the 2013 General Assembly convenes, the state's provider fee, called a "bed tax" by some, remains a high-profile wild card -- one that could deal Georgia's hospital industry a crippling blow. If the fee is not renewed -- and anti-tax forces will oppose it -- the Medicaid system may lose $430 million-plus that the assessment now generates. That loss would swell the state's Medicaid financial shortfall, which is already about $400 million (Miller, 12/6).

(St. Paul) Pioneer Press: Fiscal Cliff: Minnesota Health Programs Could See $37 Million In Cuts
If the federal government goes over the fiscal cliff early next year, the Minnesota Department of Health would suffer a big hit. That was the message Thursday, Dec. 6, from Health Department officials testifying at the Capitol before a joint meeting of two heath committees in the state House of Representatives. … The automatic cuts would result in a $33 million to $37 million reduction in federal support for health programs in Minnesota between July 2013 and June 2015 (Snowbeck, 12/6).

Minnesota Post: Minnesota's Budgeting Efforts Clouded By Nation's Fiscal Uncertainty
Minnesota's projected $1.1 billion deficit for the 2014-15 biennium is a big improvement from chronic budget deficits in Minnesota for the past decade -- and particularly last year's $5 billion-plus shortfall that Gov Mark Dayton and the Republican-controlled Legislature had to resolve for the current biennium. … The state also is waiting to see how federal officials will reimburse Minnesota for expanded coverage of low-income populations on government health-care programs that leaves $4.3 billion potentially hanging in the balance. Even if the fiscal cliff is resolved, entitlement cuts that come as part of a national compromise package also could affect Minnesota's bottom line (Nord, 12/6).

Los Angeles Times: Stem Cell Agency Board Criticized For Conflicts Of Interest
The board of California's stem cell funding agency is rife with conflicts of interest and should be restructured to improve the integrity of its grant-making process, according to a new report from independent experts convened by the national Institute of Medicine. The committee found that "far too many" of the board members are from organizations that stand to benefit from the $3 billion the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine is supposed to dole out to researchers over 10 years. Making matters worse, the panel said, the 29 board members are too closely involved in the agency's day-to-day decisions (Brown, 12/7).

Kaiser Health News: Advocates Sue To Change The 'Nursing Cliff' In California
It was some 21st birthday present. When Pablo Carranza turned 21 in September, California's Medicaid agency notified him that the around-the-clock nursing care he receives at the Chula Vista, Calif., home he shares with his mother would be sharply cut back. Carranza has muscular dystrophy and can only move his left thumb and his eyes. The nurses, paid for by Medi-Cal, the joint federal-state program for low income people and those with disabilities in California, have long monitored Carranza's ventilator and feeding tube. They also cleared fluids from his lungs and lifted him into his wheelchair. But like many other states, California's Medicaid benefits are much more generous for disabled children than for adults (Varney, 12/6).

The Lund Report: Medicare Payments Favor Hospitals
Dr. Don Berwick believes the Triple Aim is critical to the success of health care reform over the next few years. That means better care for individuals, better health for populations and lower health care costs. "The fundamental flaw in American health care is fragmentation," said the former administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, who appears in Portland next Thursday to keynote the 2012 State of Reform Conference. The health care delivery systems are facing an identity crisis, he told The Lund Report. "Are they going to continue raising prices and costs or redesign health care so costs start to fall. This isn't about rationing or withholding care. It's about getting costs down while improving care. If it doesn't happen, we'll go over the fiscal cliff. An extra dollar taken by health care that's not needed is a dollar denied for a school or a road. This is not free money that health care is taking. It's coming from somewhere else" (Lund-Muzkant, 12/6).

Modern Healthcare: U. Of Texas Launches Unique Health Info Exchange Lab
University of Texas at Austin officials are touting their first-in-the-country learning laboratory for health information exchange, the newest addition to the school's nine-week health IT certification program. The health information exchange laboratory, launching this week, gives students hands-on training with information exchange software and allows them to watch real-time transfers of patient records in a simulated environment, Leanne Field, the university's director of public health, medical laboratory science and information technology programs, said in an interview. ... Students in the program also take advantage of a Health IT Learning Center that allows them to work directly with six electronic health-record systems, as well as a telemedicine system (McKinney, 12/6).

The Denver Post: Colorado Approves One Sky-High Health Hike After Nixing Another. Why?
Colorado regulators approved a nearly 30 percent rate hike by a local health plan soon after rejecting a 24 percent boost by Cigna as too high, further muddying the waters over how to control medical insurance. The system works, despite the confusion of watching two high rate increases with opposite fates, said Matt Valeta, a health-insurance analyst for the consumer initiative (Booth, 12/7).

The Associated Press: Miss. Gov Tells Teens To Avoid Early Parenthood
To fight Mississippi's highest-in-the-nation teen birth rate, is it best to give young people detailed information about contraception or to just tell them to abstain from sex before marriage? Separate conferences Thursday at the Jackson Convention Complex offered competing views. Republican Gov. Phil Bryant's office sponsored a conference that was, at times, like a church service complete with emotional testimony from young adults who regret having been sexually active when they were teens (Pettus, 12/6).

The Boston Globe: State's Medical Panel Chief Steps Down
The staff director of the Board of Registration in Medicine resigned Tuesday, and the departure, combined with turnover among board members this year, indicates a probable shift in focus at the agency that oversees licensing and discipline for more than 34,000 physicians in the state. Every seat on the seven-member board has been filled with someone new in the past 18 months or left empty after resignations (Conaboy, 12/7).

Richmond Times Dispatch: Six Large Medical Groups Part Of Anthem Primary Care Initiative
Bon Secours Medical Group and Patient First have signed agreements with Anthem, [Virginia's] largest health insurer, in which Anthem pays primary care doctors more for taking care of patients and rewards them if patient outcomes improve. The focus is on what's called patient-centered medical homes in which a primary care provider oversees and coordinates a patent's care, which is often fragmented if a patient has complex medical problems and sees multiple providers. … Anthem's parent company, WellPoint, launched the patient-centered primary care program in January, describing it as a "fundamental change" in its relationship with primary care physicians (Smith, 12/7).

Stateline: Prescription Databases Weigh Public Health Against Patient Privacy
Kentucky's "pill problem" and the state's plan to fix it unfolded before a national gathering of state lawmakers in Washington D.C. Thursday. As David Hopkins, director of Kentucky's prescription drug monitoring program, shared the state's prescription numbers -- about 60 million prescriptions in August 2012 alone for a population of about 4.4 million -- legislators attending the National Conference of State Legislatures session shook their heads in disbelief. ... To tackle the problem, the Kentucky legislature passed a sweeping bill in April, beefing up enforcement and requiring all prescribers to enter each prescription they write for scheduled drugs, any drug identified by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as potentially addictive, into the state's existing prescription monitoring database (Clark, 12/7).

The New York Times: Queens Doctor Is Charged in Two Deaths
A doctor accused of running a prescription pain medication mill out of a basement office in Queens was charged with manslaughter on Thursday in the deaths of two former patients. An indictment filed in State Supreme Court in Manhattan accused the doctor, Stan Xuhui Li, of prescribing pain medicine for medically unsound reasons to 20 patients, seven of whom died from overdoses (Buettner, 12/6).

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis article was reprinted from 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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