State News

Arizona | March 12, 2019 | News Story

New Arizona Law will Expand So-Called 'Junk' Health Insurance Plans

A new Arizona law, set to take effect 90 days after the 2019 legislative session ends, extends the maximum time that residents are allowed to have a short-term insurance plan from one to three years, according to AZ Central. Consumer advocates oppose the “junk plans,” arguing that they hurt consumers because they cover far fewer services than regular coverage. Increasing the contract time, they say, enables insurers to financially benefit at the expense of consumers for longer periods of time. Some states have passed laws restricting short-term plans in an effort to protect consumers. California banned short-term insurance plans altogether and Delaware issued rules limiting short-term plans to three months, with no extensions or renewals.


Kansas | March 8, 2019 | News Story

Three Kansas City Area Hospitals Get Dinged by Medicare for High Complication Rates

Three Kansas City-area hospitals are among 17 in Missouri and seven in Kansas that are being penalized by Medicare this year for high infection and patient-injury rates, reports KCUR. Truman Medical Centers, Research Medical Center and Belton Medical Center will see their Medicare payments reduced by one percent because of high rates of complications, as part of the Affordable Care Act’s effort to improve patient care. The article lists the 24 Missouri and Kansas hospitals that have been penalized this year (out of 800 general hospitals nationwide).


Missouri | March 8, 2019 | News Story

Three Kansas City Area Hospitals Get Dinged by Medicare for High Complication Rates

Three Kansas City-area hospitals are among 17 in Missouri and seven in Kansas that are being penalized by Medicare this year for high infection and patient-injury rates, reports KCUR. Truman Medical Centers, Research Medical Center and Belton Medical Center will see their Medicare payments reduced by one percent because of high rates of complications, as part of the Affordable Care Act’s effort to improve patient care. The article lists the 24 Missouri and Kansas hospitals that have been penalized this year (out of 800 general hospitals nationwide).


Pennsylvania | March 6, 2019 | News Story

Health Costs Are Crushing Pennsylvanians; A New Survey Shows How Much

survey conducted by the Healthcare Value Hub found that one in two Pennsylvania adults struggled to afford healthcare, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Alarmingly, Pennsylvanians are coping with their affordability burdens by making decisions that may jeopardize their health such as: delaying care, avoiding getting care, skipping a test or treatment, failing to fill prescriptions or skipping doses. Pennsylvania adults pointed to, in particular, the rising cost of prescription drugs as a “major reason” for high healthcare costs. This is supported by other data that show that prescription drugs are one of the key drivers of high healthcare costs in the U.S. Other data show that certain populations – including medically vulnerable and older Pennsylvanians – are particularly hard hit by soaring drug prices. The survey revealed that there is support across party lines for government actions to curtail unfair prescription drug pricing and unreasonable price hikes.


District of Columbia | March 1, 2019 | News Story

District will No Longer Guarantee Ambulance Rides for Non-Emergency Patients

D.C. residents who call 911 are no longer guaranteed an ambulance ride to hospitals if responding medics and a nurse determine that their ailments are minor, according to The Washington Post. Instead, after an assessment by firefighter and EMT crews, patients who are not in serious straits will be connected (by phone) with a nurse, who will help them find care at a clinic or a primary care facility. The new policy is the city’s latest attempt to deal with a crippling call volume that frequently causes emergency responders to be unavailable for life-threatening situations.


Maryland | March 1, 2019 | News Story

Maryland Total Cost of Care Model: Transforming Health and Healthcare

The state of Maryland and CMS signed an agreement to implement the Maryland Total Cost of Care Model, which marks the first time CMS will hold a state accountable for total cost of care incurred by resident Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries, according to JAMA. This 8-year model began on Jan. 1, 2019, and will test whether accountability for Medicare spending will spur statewide healthcare delivery transformation, potentially reducing expenditures, preserving or enhancing quality for beneficiaries and improving individual and population level outcomes. This model builds on Maryland’s All-Payer Model, providing incentives for hospitals to increase high-value care for patients seeking care from their institutions and their community services by centering improved population health as the foundation for the model to achieve savings.


Minnesota | February 28, 2019 | News Story

Minnesota Health Costs Could Double to $94 Billion

The overall cost of healthcare in Minnesota grew at a relatively low rate during 2016, but the broader trend points toward a doubling of expenses over the next decade, reports the Star Tribune. A report by the Minnesota Department of Health projected that annual health costs – totaling $47.1 billion in 2016 – will reach $94.2 billion by 2026. This means that Minnesota would spend $1 out of every $6 generated by the state's economy on healthcare. Spending growth will likely result from higher prices, greater use of services and advanced technology costs. Additionally, demographic shifts will boost Medicare enrollment and spending for people with multiple chronic ailments.


Texas | February 25, 2019 | News Story

'Pain & Profit' Investigation Spurs Sweeping Bipartisan Fix for Texas' Medicaid Managed Care Mess

Lawmakers from both parties are rolling out a package of bills to overhaul the Texas Medicaid system, introducing protections for vulnerable patients who are denied treatments, increasing state oversight and signaling a crackdown on healthcare corporations that get richer by providing less care, according to Dallas News. One such bill would address the state’s broken medical appeals system. In light of limited state oversight that allowed managed care companies to refuse medically needed services and force families with sick or disabled children to pursue endless appeals, other bills would allow parents of children with disabilities to opt out a managed care program called STAR Kids and receive traditional Medicaid. The omnibus bill some lawmakers call the "Managed Care Accountability Bill,” would overhaul the state’s system for fining managed care companies when they fail to properly serve patients, empower the health commission’s Office of the Inspector General to assist in financial review of managed care companies and beef up the state’s tracking of company refusals to provide care. 


Colorado | February 24, 2019 | News Story

Survey: Coloradans Skipping Healthcare Because of High Cost

new survey conducted by the Healthcare Value Hub discovered that more than half (58%) of Coloradans were burdened by healthcare costs, according to the Durango Herald. Healthcare continues to be an important topic of conversation for Coloradans, especially those outside the Denver metro area, where nearly two-thirds of those surveyed indicated they were burdened by these high healthcare costs. The survey found that the majority of Coloradans (82%) agreed that the healthcare system needed to change to better meet the needs of the consumers. Coloradans should not have to delay or forgo healthcare due to cost: more than 40 percent delayed going to a doctor or having a procedure done, 38 percent avoided going altogether, 21 percent did not fill a prescription and 19 percent cut pills in half or skipped doses to save money.


California | February 21, 2019 | News Story

New State Law is Forcing San Diego to Grapple with Its Lack of Options for Homeless Patients Post Discharge

A new law requires California hospitals to establish plans for discharging homeless patients and provide resources that might keep them from returning to the street, according to KPBS. For example, hospitals must provide meals and weather-appropriate clothing to homeless patients when needed and offer them transportation to their destination after discharge if it is within 30 miles or 30 minutes of the hospital. The law does not, however, require that homeless Californians be given temporary housing or provide new resources to deliver it. The legislation has spurred conversations among numerous stakeholders on how to better address homelessness in California communities.