Health Care Reform News Around the Nation for the Week of July 21
Earlier this month, Kansas Department of Health and Environment and Kansas Diabetes Advisory Council officials launched a statewide diabetes prevention and management program, the Wichita Eagle reports.
Under the five-year plan, state officials aim to:
- Raise awareness about diabetes management and prevention;
- Promote information about standards of care for the disease within the state's health care services;
- Develop ways to help organizations address diabetes management and prevention;
- Improve individuals' access to self-management programs, services and information; and
- Lead initiatives to encourage policymakers to implement diabetes prevention, detection and care plans statewide.
The plan also includes outreach to minority communities (Woods, Wichita Eagle, 7/12).
On Tuesday, Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Alan Levine announced the formation of a 10-member panel to help the department revamp its health care delivery system for low-income and uninsured residents, the Baton Rouge Advocate reports.
Speaking at a conference, Levine said the Medicaid Reform Committee will assist DHH in fulfilling a legal mandate under the state's Health Care Reform Act of 2007 to establish a medical home model of care that focuses on preventive care, chronic disease management and coordination of public and private health services.
The committee also will help DHH apply for federal approval of a demonstration project called "Louisiana Health First," which would form a system of provider service networks.
The committee comprises officials from various state health care agencies and academic and advocacy groups, such as the Louisiana State Medical Society, the Louisiana Association of Health Plans, the Louisiana Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Louisiana Public Health Institute (Shuler, Baton Rouge Advocate, 7/16).
A day earlier, Levine said that Louisiana's $29.9 billion fiscal year 2009 budget could result in cuts to state health programs for low-income, elderly and uninsured state residents, the Baton Rouge Advocate reports.
The budget allocates $6.76 billion for Medicaid, nearly $50 million short of Gov. Bobby Jindal's (R) request, according to DHH Undersecretary Charles Castille. Castille said the shortfall is part of the $4.66 billion allocated to reimburse private health care providers.
Levine said, "Some time in the next few weeks, I'm going to have to project a deficit in Medicaid on the basis it is not fully funded." By law, Levine is required to submit a report to the state Legislature on the projected Medicaid shortfall and how the agency plans to address it (Shuler, Baton Rouge Advocate, 7/15).
On Wednesday, the Massachusetts House approved legislation that aims to rein in health care spending, the AP/Boston Herald reports (AP/Boston Herald, 7/16).
The House legislation would require uniform coding of medical claims to improve billing consistency and would provide incentives for physicians to focus on chronic disease management. The measure also would require the adoption of a statewide electronic health record system by 2015 (AP/Boston Herald, 7/16).
Members of the Massachusetts House Joint Committee on Health Care Financing on Tuesday removed a provision of the bill that would have banned pharmaceutical companies from providing gifts and meals to physicians.
The House committee also eliminated provisions that would have required drug and medical device manufacturers to disclose consulting and speaking payments to physicians and required the state Department of Public Health to publish the information online. A provision that would have implemented a $5,000 fine for each violation also was deleted from the bill.
The state Senate has passed a version of the bill that includes the gift ban provision (Lazar, Boston Globe, 7/16).
Both versions of the legislation would create a physician-led outreach and education program to provide objective information to doctors and encourage the use of evidence-based and cost-effective prescribing practices (Boston Globe, 7/16).
In addition, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D) earlier this month proposed raising about $100 million through additional employer, insurer and hospital contributions to close a funding gap in the state's health insurance law, the Boston Globe reports.
The proposal would raise about $33 million by requiring employers with more than 10 workers to contribute at least one-third of workers' premiums within their first 90 days of employment and at least 25% of their workers be enrolled in an employer-sponsored insurance plan.
An additional $33 million would be raised by assessing fees on insurers' reserve accounts, which the companies say are needed in case of a public health emergency, such as a terrorist attack or influenza pandemic.
Hospitals would be required to contribute an additional $28 million under Patrick's plan.
Patrick also has proposed using $35 million from the Medical Security Trust Fund, which is used to pay for health insurance for low-income individuals (Lazar , Boston Globe, 7/15).
More than 11,000 West Virginia Medicaid beneficiaries have enrolled in the new "enhanced" benefits program, Mountain Health Choices, the Charleston Gazette reports.
The program requires residents to sign personal responsibility pledges stating that they will take steps to improve their health. By signing the pledge, beneficiaries agree to regularly visit their physician, take their medication and avoid seeking care at emergency departments.
In exchange, they receive health services such as weight management and nutrition education, and smoking cessation classes.
Shannon Landrum, legislative liaison at the West Virginia Bureau for Medical Services, said the number is "extremely encouraging to us," adding, "We expect thousands more to sign up for the enhanced plan in the coming months."
The 11,000 beneficiaries represent 8% of the 140,000 state residents eligible to enroll in the program (Eyre, Charleston Gazette, 7/14).