Texas prisons try telemedicine to curb spending | Dallas Morning News

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200px-Flag-map_of_TexasThe high-tech medical consultation, known as telemedicine, uses technology to connect prisoners, who are often housed in remote areas, with medical experts throughout the state.

It’s just one way that the Texas Department of Criminal Justice is trying to control spending on prison health care. But while telemedicine has shown some success in curbing spending, it hasn’t been enough to stem rising costs due to an aging prison population.

via Texas prisons try telemedicine to curb spending | Dallas Morning News.

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States continue war over Obamacare | Center for Public Integrity

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Center for public integrity logoIn Washington, there’s been little consensus on modifying the health reform law—short of repeated votes in the House to kill or cripple it.

That might change as Republicans take control of the House and Senate, though what fixes, if any, Congress might prescribe—and whether any can get a signature from the President— aren’t clear.

But in state capitals around the country, from Albany and Columbia to Austin and Sacramento, lawmakers have been mulling over hundreds of proposals that reflect a myriad of starkly different views on Obamacare as settled law.

via States continue war over Obamacare | Center for Public Integrity.

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Renewing customers urged to take immediate action to continue 2015 coverage

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Washington Healthplanfinder Urges Renewing Customers to Take Immediate Action to Continue 2015 Health Coverage

Thousands of Customers Have Not Yet Taken Action; Next Deadline to Enroll is Jan. 23

 The Washington Health Benefit Exchange is urging 2014 customers who have not yet renewed their coverage for 2015 to return as soon as possible to continue their health plan this year.

“There is still time to come back and get enrolled, but time is running out.”

Customers who were unable to renew by the Dec. 23 deadline or were unaware of additional action needed on their account may be eligible for a special 60-day enrollment opportunity. These customers should fill out an online form to initiate eligibility for retroactive coverage that begins on Jan. 1.

Up to 4,000 customers have completed an application for 2015 coverage but did not submit payment by the Dec. 23 deadline for coverage that began on Jan. 1. 

These applications will be reviewed by Exchange staff to ensure that eligible individuals are able to receive retroactive coverage.

“There is still time to come back and get enrolled, but time is running out,” said Richard Onizuka, CEO for the Washington Health Benefit Exchange. “Customers should contact us as soon as possible if they need assistance with their application.” Continue reading

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High court considers if providers can sue states for higher Medicaid pay

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Top row (left to right): Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice Stephen G. Breyer, Associate Justice Samuel A. Alito, and Associate Justice Elena Kagan. Bottom row (left to right): Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, and Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Top row (left to right): Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice Stephen G. Breyer, Associate Justice Samuel A. Alito, and Associate Justice Elena Kagan. Bottom row (left to right): Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, and Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

By Phil Galewitz
KHN

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday in a case that could block hospitals, doctors — or anyone else — from suing states over inadequate payment rates for providers who participate in the Medicaid program for low-income Americans.

Many doctors avoid seeing Medicaid recipients, saying the program pays too little. That can lead to delays and difficulties in getting care for millions of poor people.

Federal law requires Medicaid, which covers 70 million people, to provide the same access to care as that given to people with private insurance. But many doctors avoid seeing Medicaid recipients, saying the program pays too little. That can lead to delays and difficulties in getting care for millions of poor people.

In Armstrong vs. Exceptional Child Center, several providers for developmentally disabled Medicaid patients sued the state of Idaho after officials failed to increase Medicaid payments as required under a formula approved by the federal government.

An appellate court upheld a judgment in favor of the providers last year, noting that Idaho had conceded that it held rates flat since 2006 for “purely budgetary reasons.”

The issue before the high court is whether the U.S. Constitution gives providers the right to sue the state to increase their pay. And the court appeared split on that issue based on their remarks Tuesday. Continue reading

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Health news headlines – January 21, 2015

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Global health news – January 21, 2015

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Sen. Hatch vows to dismantle health law but predicts bipartisan success on other issues

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Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 2.54.48 PMBy Mary Agnes Carey
KHN

While Republicans cannot expect a full repeal of the health law while President Barack Obama remains in office, the GOP intends to “strike away at it, piece by piece,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said Tuesday.

But in a speech at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Hatch also said he expected that Republican and Democratic lawmakers would work together on several other key pieces of health legislation.

Hatch said there may be more bipartisanship in some “must pass items,” including continued funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program and overhauling the way Medicare pays physicians, known as the “sustainable growth rate.”

On CHIP, Hatch said the Finance Committee has “heard from a number of governors from red states and blue stakes alike that they want to see this program extended. It has been a marvelous program. It has worked very, very well. I’m optimistic that we can work on a bipartisan, bicameral basis to extend CHIP in a responsible way.” Continue reading

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Obama expected to defend health law in State of the Union address

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President Obama will deliver his State of the Union address tonight at 9 p.m. ET.

To watch online go to: WhiteHouse.gov/SOTU.

The site will include interactive features that make clear what the President’s proposals mean for you, and shareable charts and stats that help supplement and expand on the points you’ll hear Obama make. If you’re watching on your TV, you can still follow along on your phone or tablet.

Watch Tonight

 

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Once, same-sex couples couldn’t wed; Now, some employers say they must

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EqualBy Julie Appleby
KHN

Until recently, same-sex couples could not legally marry. Now, some are finding they must wed if they want to keep their partner’s job-based health insurance and other benefits.

With same-sex marriage now legal in 35 states and the District of Columbia, some employers that formerly covered domestic partners say they will require marriage licenses for workers who want those perks.

“We’re bringing our benefits in line, making them consistent with what we do for everyone else.”

“We’re bringing our benefits in line, making them consistent with what we do for everyone else,” said Ray McConville, a spokesman for Verizon, which notified non-union employees in July that domestic partners in states where same-sex marriage is legal must wed if they want to qualify for such benefits.

Employers making the changes say that since couples now have the legal right to marry, they no longer need to provide an alternative. Such rule changes could also apply to opposite-sex partners covered under domestic partner arrangements.

“The biggest question is: Will companies get rid of benefit programs for unmarried partners?” said Todd Solomon, a partner at McDermott Will & Emery in Chicago. Continue reading

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Health news headlines – January 20, 2015

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Global health news – January 20, 2015

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Northwest Kidney Centers names four new medical directors

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 Northwest Kidney Centers has named new medical directors to supervise overall patient care at four of its 15 dialysis centers.

2011 Northwest Kidney CentersDr. Scott Bieber is now medical director at Northwest Kidney Centers’ Scribner clinic in the Northgate area at 2150 N. 107th St., Seattle. Bieber is a clinical assistant professor of medicine at the University of Washington-Harborview. He earned a doctor of osteopathy degree at Western University of Health Sciences; completed an internal medicine residency and chief residency at Los Angeles County General Hospital-University of Southern California; and held nephrology and dialysis fellowships at the University of Washington.

Dr. Daniel Hu photo (1214x1280)Dr. Daniel Hu is medical director at Northwest Kidney Centers’ SeaTac clinic, at 17900 International Blvd. S., SeaTac. He practices at the University of Washington-Valley Medical Center nephrology clinic in Renton. He received his medical degree from East Carolina University; completed an internal medicine residency and geriatrics fellowship at Duke University Medical Center; and held a nephrology fellowship at the University of Virginia.  Continue reading

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