Mar 27, 2013
News outlets report on health care developments in California, Georgia, Louisiana, Minnesota, New York, Oregon and Texas.
The Associated Press: Court Considers Calif. Prison Mental Health Care
A federal judge in Sacramento is set to hear arguments Wednesday over Gov. Jerry Brown’s push to regain state control of inmate mental health care after 18 years of federal oversight and billions of dollars spent to improve treatment. Lawyers representing the state argue that California is now providing a constitutional level of care to its prison inmates, while attorneys for the inmates say more improvement is needed (Thompson, 3/27).
The Associated Press/Washington Post: La. Health Secretary A No-Show At His Department’s Budget Hearing Amid Ongoing Investigations
Lawmakers seeking more information about the Jindal administration’s cancellation of a nearly $200 million Medicaid contract amid an ongoing criminal investigation were told Tuesday that administration leaders were advised against discussing it. The now-scrapped contract for Medicaid claims processing and bill payment had been awarded to CNSI, a Maryland-based company that once employed Gov. Bobby Jindal’s health secretary, Bruce Greenstein (3/26).
Kaiser Health News: Economic Changes Hurt The Bottom Line For Rural Ga. Hospitals
In the small Georgia town of Demorest, Habersham Medical Center, like many rural hospitals, has seen its patient base change in a way that hurts its bottom line. As unemployment in the northeast Georgia mountains remains stubbornly high, more of the hospital’s patients have no health insurance. Among those patients with private coverage, an increasing number have high-deductible policies, which means that patients must pay all or a large portion of the bills out of pocket. And a large share of patients have Medicaid, the federal-state program for low-income people that often doesn’t reimburse enough to cover the cost of services, hospital officials say (Miller, 3/27).
The Texas Tribune: House Budget Spends More On Schools, Less On Medicaid
More than $1.6 billion and disagreements on how much Texas should spend on public education and Medicaid separate the budgets proposed by the House and Senate. The Senate budget proposal, passed 29-2 by the upper chamber last week, spends $195.5 billion, a 2.9 percent increase from the current two-year budget (Batheja, 3/27).
The New York Times: Plan To Allow Investment In 2 Hospitals Is Dropped
A proposal to allow for-profit investment in two hospitals in New York State has been dropped from the budget, an unexpected setback to a push to open health care systems to private investors for the first time (Bernstein, 3/26).
Pioneer Press: Legislative Auditor Assails MinnesotaCare Verifications
The state Department of Human Services has failed for years to comply with federal and state requirements to verify income and Social Security numbers reported by recipients of MinnesotaCare health insurance, the legislative auditor concluded in a report released Tuesday, March 26. The requirements are in place to guard against fraud (Belden, 3/26).
MPR News: Possible Fairview Health Takeover Raises Alarms
University of Minnesota officials are raising concerns over a possible merger between Fairview Health Services and South Dakota-based Sanford Health. Sanford, which has facilities in eight states, has expanded into parts of Minnesota in recent years. Fairview controls the University of Minnesota’s hospital. “The university educates and trains about 70 percent of the medical doctors in Minnesota, We are the only school in Minnesota that has schools of dentistry and pharmacy,” said Mark Rotenberg general counsel for the university (Mador, 3/26).
MPR News: Mayo’s Saint Marys Hospital A Priority For Expansion
Saint Marys Hospital is usually a busy place, so much so that it is chronically short of administrative and research space. Doctors hustle across the Mayo Clinic hospital, which extends more than a city block, and emergency room nurses push carts from one patient room to another. Shared offices are the norm. … To solve its space woes, the Mayo Clinic plans to spend $3 billion to expand in Rochester in the next 20 years. It’s asking the state of Minnesota to pitch in $500 million to pay for public parking, transportation, transit, utilities and other improvements. (Baier, 3/27).
The Oregonian: Washington Health Care Bills That Would Benefit Vancouver Residents Move Out Of Committee
The House Health Care and Wellness Committee on Tuesday approved two bills aimed at making health care easier to obtain for those who live in border communities like Vancouver. Senate Bill 5524 would allow Washington pharmacists to fill prescriptions written by out-of-state physician assistants. Currently, Washington pharmacies may fill prescriptions written by doctors, dentists and others who are not licensed in the state. The legislation would expand this list to include physician assistants (Marum, 3/26).