First Edition: January 9, 2013

Today's headlines include a number of health policy developments on the state level. 

Kaiser Health News: Doctors And Dentists Lure Patients With Saving Deals Online
Kaiser Health News staff writer Ankita Rao reports: "While most health-related deals on sites like Groupon and Living Social are for cosmetic procedures like Botox, providers also offer everyday medical, vision and dental services. Health and medical deals make up about 5 to 10 percent of the online coupon industry, according to Unaiz Kabani, data product manager at Yipit, a service that aggregates companies' daily deals" (Rao, 1/8). Read the story.

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: A Regional Analysis Of Which Hospital Got Rewards, Penalties Based On Quality
Now on Kaiser Health News' blog, Jordan Rau reports: "In Medicare's new program that ties about $1 billion in payments to quality of care, hospitals in Fort Wayne, Ind., are faring the best on average while hospitals in Washington, D.C., are doing the worst, according to a Kaiser Health News analysis of the country's 212 major health care markets" (Rau, 1/9). Check out what else is new on the blog.

Politico: Berwick Eyeing Run For Massachusetts Governor
Former Obama administration Medicare chief Don Berwick -; vilified by Senate Republicans who made his confirmation impossible -; is considering a run for Massachusetts governor in 2014, he told POLITICO late Tuesday (Kenen, 1/8).

The Wall Street Journal: Whistleblowers At Center Of States' Medicaid Fraud Action
Whistleblowers are becoming an increasingly important source of settlements from Medicaid fraud prosecutions  as states try to raise revenue and eliminate waste and abuse (DePietro, 1/7).

Los Angeles Times: California Regulator Scolds Anthem, Praises UnitedHealth On Rates
California's insurance commissioner scolded Anthem Blue Cross for raising rates for small businesses while praising industry rival UnitedHealth Group Inc. for cutting worker premiums (Terhune, 1/8).

Politico Pro: Mass. May Shift Health Coverage Penalties
In a step toward bringing Massachusetts in compliance with the federal health law, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick Tuesday proposed legislation that would ease some of his own state's coverage requirements for small business. The landmark Massachusetts reform law, signed by Gov. Mitt Romney in 2006, requires all businesses with 11 or more workers to offer a certain portion of their workers coverage or else face a "Fair Share" penalty of $295 per worker. But the federal Affordable Care Act has coverage requirements for businesses with 50 or more employees. That led to concerns among small businesses in Massachusetts about double-penalties and burdensome regulation (Cheney, 1/8).

The New York Times: Maine: Medicaid Purge Is Rejected
The Obama administration rejected Gov. Paul R. LePage's request to drop thousands of people from Medicaid rolls. Mr. LePage, a Republican, had sought to eliminate Medicaid coverage for nearly 15,000 parents with incomes between the federal poverty level ($23,050 for a family of four last year) and 133 percent of that level ($30,657 for a family of four). He also wanted to end coverage for more than 6,000 19- and 20-year-olds (Goodnough, 1/8).

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire: Federal Officials Deny Maine's Medicaid Cuts
Several states had suggested that the Supreme Court's opinion last summer to nix penalties in the health law for states that chose not to expand their Medicaid programs could have also lifted the law's ban on cuts to their existing programs. The Obama administration told Mr. LePage's health and human services commissioner, Mary Mayhew, that it doesn't believe that's the case (Radnofsky, 1/8).

Politico Pro: Administration Says Maine Can Make Some Medicaid Cuts
The Obama administration has told Maine that it could make some Medicaid cuts, but not as deeply as the state requested -; and it's unclear whether Gov. Paul LePage will keep fighting the feds on his preferred cuts. … CMS allowed Maine to reduce income eligibility levels for certain groups, but the agency cited MOE in its rejection of proposed cuts to parents and 19- and 20-year-olds. Maine's next steps are uncertain, and a LePage spokeswoman didn't immediately respond to a request for comment (Millman, 1/8).

The New York Times: Cuomo Seeks An Overhaul In Gun Control
Mr. Cuomo is also seeking a new law to address the role mental health can play in gun crimes. The talks on these issues were still fluid Tuesday evening, but Mr. Cuomo had considered requiring mental-health screening and more rigorous background-check requirements for gun owners, people familiar with the matter said (Nahmias, 1/8).

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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