Roundup: States facing Medicaid woes; Experts say N.Y. squeezed; Colorado, N.C. govs extend funding for mental health care

Reuters: States Scramble To Cover Medicaid Costs, Some Face Overruns
Rising health care costs are pushing up the amounts states must spend on the Medicaid insurance program for the poor, sending some scrambling to find funds, according to a report released on Tuesday by the National Conference of State Legislatures. The report found that spending on Medicaid and other public health care programs is currently over budget in 10 states, compared to six states at the same point last year (Lambert, 12/18).

The New York Times: Experts Warn Of Budget Ills For The State, Lasting Years
The State Budget Crisis Task Force, a nonpartisan group, said that New York's problems had been "papered over with gimmicks" for decades. ... [T]he report highlighted the state's enormous Medicaid budget, which is larger than those of Florida, Pennsylvania and Texas combined. The report said that while the Cuomo administration had put in place a cap on annual increases in health care spending, it was not certain the measure would drive down costs over the long run (Kaplan, 12/18).

Reuters: Medicaid, Other Costs Threaten New York State And Local Budgets: Report
"Health care costs and retirement costs are rising a lot faster than revenue. And unless one sees something on the horizon that will change that essential dynamic, then that means we're not on a sustainable path," said former New York Lieutenant Governor Richard Ravitch in an interview (Russ, 12/18).

The Associated Press: Hickenlooper Wants Expansion Of Mental Care
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper wants to expand mental health services and make mental health records readily available for background checks on firearm purchases -- initiatives that are a response to the Aurora theater shooting this summer. The governor's office and health officials began working on the proposals days after the theater shooting in July and had planned the announcement for weeks (Moreno, 12/18).

Health Policy Solutions (a Colo. news service): 'Raw' From Tragedies, Governor Calls For Mental Health Overhaul
Acknowledging that emotions are still raw over the mass killing Friday of 20 first-graders and six educators in Connecticut, Hickenlooper said the mental health overhaul -- which will require legislative approval -- has been in the works since two days after the Aurora theater shootings last July (Kerwin McCrimmon, 12/18).

Kaiser Health News Capsules blog: Colorado Gov Pitches Plan To Mend Mental Health Safety Net
The plan calls for 50 new treatment beds for those transitioning from institutional care, 20 more for those in jail or prison and 107 housing vouchers for people being released from in-patient treatment. ... Like many states, Colorado has seen a net decline in the number of mental health treatment beds in recent years as hospitals have collectively eliminated more than they have added (Whitney, 12/19).

North Carolina Health News: Governor Temporarily Fixes Group Home Funding Problem
Outgoing Governor Bev Perdue announced Tuesday morning she had found a way to provide $1 million to help group homes pay for housing for people with mental health and developmental disabilities through the month of January. The move is a temporary patch for the homes until General Assembly returns to Raleigh and can construct a longer-term fix to the problem. For months, operators of group homes for people with mental health and developmental disabilities have been warning lawmakers that changes to the state's Medicaid program put about 1400 people at risk of losing the money that pays for their housing and care (Hoban, 12/19).

Modern Healthcare: Partners Healthcare Marks $42 Million For Mass. Tax
One prominent Boston health system plans to pay $42 million under a tax in Massachusetts' health care cost-containment law. ... The Massachusetts law, an ambitious and widely watched attempt to contain rising health care costs, includes provisions to promote health information technology, accountable care and new payment models (Evans, 12/18).

The Lund Report: Oregon Gives CCOs Financial Incentives For Quality Care
The Oregon Health Authority wants to give financial bonuses to the new coordinated care organizations if they can show good health care access as well as emphasize preventive practices such as mental health screening and good maternal health care. But when the Metrics and Scoring Committee dug into the current statistics, it found paltry rates well below national standards. ... As part of Oregon's experiment with CCOs, the state received a $1.9 billion increase in Medicaid funding over five years (Gray, 12/18).

The Lund Report: OHSU Intends To Track Effectiveness Of CCOs
The newly created Center for Health Systems Effectiveness at Oregon Health & Science University intends to measure the effectiveness of coordinated care organizations under the leadership of John McConnell ... McConnell said the five major drivers of spiraling costs in healthcare are: income, technological change (which can be tied to income -- higher-income populations demand state-of-the-art care), fee-for-service payment systems, fragmentation (contributing to poor communication and redundant care between providers) and productivity differentials (McCurdy, 12/19).

The Oregonian: Hundreds Of High-Prescribers Don't Check Oregon's Pharmacy-Monitoring Program
Doctor-shopping by people seeking opioid painkillers is not new, but for the first time, Oregon officials have an idea of how often it goes on. A report on the state's pharmacy monitoring program shows that in a recent six-month period, 1,746 Oregonians fit the definition of drug-seeker: filling prescriptions written by five or more providers at five or more pharmacies (Budnick, 12/18).

Modern Healthcare: Avera To Acquire Two CHI Hospitals In S.D.
The Avera Health system will acquire two South Dakota hospitals and four long-term-care centers from Catholic Health Initiatives in a deal announced this week. The deal includes 164-bed St. Mary's Healthcare Center, Pierre, and 60-bed Gettysburg (S.D.) Memorial Hospital. The agreement also includes long-term-care centers (Selvam, 12/18).

Detroit Free Press: Congress' Action Puts Nigerian Closer To Medical School Dream
He arrived in Michigan from Nigeria as a 15-year-old, alone, with large tumors spread over his head and threatening his life. A decade later, he is headed to medical school, the tumors removed and permanent U.S. residency coming his way, thanks to rare action by Congress on Tuesday. ... The House passed a special bill granting [Sopuruchi] Chukwueke legal status in the U.S. (Jesse and Spangler, 12/19).

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.



The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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