State Highlights: A Retreat On Mental Health Funding; Big Hospital, Insurer Fight In Ga.
A selection of health policy stories from Georgia, California, Kansas, Missouri, Florida and Maryland.
Some States Retreat on Mental Health Funding
Fewer states increased their spending on mental health programs this year compared to last year, when a spate of horrific shootings by assailants with histories of mental illness prompted a greater focus on the shortcomings of the country’s mental health system. (Ollove, 12/15)
Georgia Health News:
Grady Says Figures Prove Blue Cross Is Unfair
Grady Health System has released financial data that it says buttresses its argument that it has been paid unfairly by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia. It’s the latest salvo in the contract battle between the major Atlanta safety-net provider and the state’s biggest health insurer. (Millers, 12/12)
Should A Federal Health Program Pay To House L.A.’s Homeless?
Since the federal health care law expanded Medicaid in some states, about seven million low-income Americans have gained new health insurance. But, in Los Angeles, health officials say that’s not enough and they want to try going further, using Medicaid dollars to pay for housing for the homeless. (Sreenivasan, 12/12)
The New York Times:
Brownback’s Tax Cuts Not Set In Stone As Kansas Faces Budget Shortfall
Most of Mr. Brownback’s solution to fill the current hole comes through transferring more than $200 million from various state funds, such as one for highway projects and another for early-childhood education programs, into the state general fund. He also ordered a 4 percent budget cut to many, though not all, state agencies. He spared things like classroom funding and Medicaid, which would have sparked a lot of controversy if they were cut. (Eligon, 12/14)
St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
Teaching Hospitals Left Out In The Push To Cut Insurance Premiums
[E]ven though two more companies have joined the marketplace this year, academic centers such as BJC [HealthCare] and St. Louis University Hospital continue to find themselves on the outside of many insurers’ provider networks. BJC, SLU Hospital and national groups representing medical colleges have many explanations for the exclusions. But experts say it all comes down to pricing. (Shapiro and Liss, 12/14)
Miami Beach Considers Switching Health Plans
With Miami Beach employees and retirees locked out of the region’s largest healthcare system — Baptist Health South Florida — city officials on Friday said they will consider switching to a new health plan administrator, even if it costs more. Currently served by Humana, one of the largest health insurers in South Florida, an estimated 1,500 Miami Beach employees, retirees and their dependents enrolled in the city’s health plan essentially have become collateral damage in an on-going disagreement between Humana and Baptist Health. (Chang, 12/12)
The Washington Post:
Johns Hopkins Team Wins U.S. Award For Improved Suit To Fight Ebola
For health-care workers taking care of Ebola patients in West Africa, one of the biggest logistical problems has been the “moon suits” they must wear to protect against being infected by the deadly virus. The suits are hot. Taking them off is a meticulous, multistep process that can leave no room for error. Now, a protective suit designed by a team from Johns Hopkins has been chosen as one of the winners in a global competition for solutions to increase the protection and comfort of front-line workers battling Ebola. (Sun, 12/13)
After Inmate Deaths, Department Of Justice To Probe Florida Prison System
With 320 inmate deaths tallied as of Dec. 8, Florida’s prison system is on track to have the deadliest year in its history. This rise in prison deaths coincides with an aging of the prison population, but also with a doubling of incidents involving the use of force by officers over the past five years. Now, six months after the Miami Herald began an investigation into the questionable deaths of inmates in Florida’s state prisons, the U.S. Department of Justice is gathering evidence for a possible investigation into whether the agency has violated the constitutional rights of prisoners. (Brown, 12/13)
CDC Data Track Hospital-Acquired Infections In Florida, Nation
Seven Miami-Dade hospitals fell below national standards for combating infections acquired by patients in hospitals, and patients at one hospital — North Shore Medical Center in Miami — were more likely to develop infections than patients at any other hospital in South Florida, according to data collected by the federal government as part of a national effort to reduce such infections. (Nehamas and Rau, 12/13)