A selection of health policy stories from the District of Columbia, Georgia, California, New York, Montana, Oregon and Pennsylvania.
The Washington Post: Chartered Health Plan Settles With District
The District of Columbia has reached a settlement with a health-care company that was once the city's largest contractor and whose former owner is at the center of a federal investigation into political corruption (Weiner, 8/21).
Georgia Health News: Judge Refuses To Halt State Health Contract
A Fulton County judge Wednesday rejected UnitedHealthcare's request for an injunction to halt the implementation of a lucrative contract for the state employee health plan. Attorneys for United argued that the Department of Community Health's award of a State Health Benefit Plan (SHBP) contract to a rival company, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia, amounted to "state-sponsored bid-rigging" (Miller, 8/21).
Los Angeles Times: Few California Voters Know Much About Health Care Overhaul, Poll Shows
A large majority of California voters know very little or nothing at all about the state's new health insurance marketplace less than six weeks before enrollment starts, according to a new poll (Terhune, 8/21).
The Associated Press/Wall Street Journal: NY Surgeon Must Pay $388,000 In Medicaid Fraud
A respected New York spine surgeon is being ordered to pay the government almost $400,000 to settle charges he overbilled Medicare. Federal Justice Department officials said Wednesday that Richard S. Obedian inflated reimbursements by using incorrect billing codes (8/21).
The Associated Press: Mont. Says Early Returns Good On Health Clinic
Montana lawmakers were told Tuesday that new state health clinics appear to be helping reduce costs. The state opened a Helena clinic for employees last summer, an idea championed by former Gov. Brian Schweitzer. Another clinic was later opened in Billings, and more are planned in places with a large number of state employees (Gouras, 8/21).
The Lund Report: PEBB Set To Overhaul Medical Insurance Contract
The Public Employees Benefit Board released its blueprints for a new contract design at its August meeting, asking companies that will either administer or insure health coverage for Oregon's public workers to offer more innovative plans that will hold down costs while actually improving care. It's the first major request for proposal or RFP to deliver medical care for PEBB since 2004, and the cost of the plan is intended to fit into PEBB's capped budget of $1.5 billion for the next two years (Gray, 8/21).
The Philadelphia Inquirer: Penn State Health Coverage Switching From Carrot To Stick
Like most big employers across the country, Pennsylvania State University has spent several million dollars over the last decade on voluntary wellness programs, hoping to cut health costs and improve workers' health. … So Penn State, like a small but fast-growing number of employers, is switching from carrots to sticks. In January, employees will face a $100 monthly surcharge if they haven't filled out health-screening forms and gotten a physical exam. If they smoke, that's an additional $75 a month (McCullough, 8/20).
California Healthline: Hospital Fee Is One Step Closer To Law
The Assembly Committee on Health yesterday approved a bill designed to offset Medi-Cal costs for hospitals. SB 239 by Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina) extends the Medi-Cal quality assurance fee for hospitals for an additional two years. "This bill would create a two-year fee program that would provide supplemental Medi-Cal payment to hospitals, to help reduce that annual loss of about $5 billion a year, from treating Medi-Cal patients," said Anne McLeod, senior vice president of health policy at the California Hospital Association (Gorn, 8/21).
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.