Calif. Allows Safety-Net Coverage Cost Increases; Georgia Illegal Immigrant Dialysis Agreement Reached

The Los Angeles Times: “As state leaders blast giant health insurers for raising rates, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s administration has quietly allowed hefty increases for thousands of sick or jobless Californians who must rely on expensive safety-net coverage — if they want insurance at all. To the frustration of policyholders, state regulators have given insurance companies permission to raise maximum premiums for most of the 20,000 Californians who depend on the coverage of last resort. Some who buy the insurance will have to pay an extra $7,500 annually, pushing their bills to nearly $25,000. … These vulnerable consumers could face higher-than-anticipated costs until at least 2014, when the nation’s new healthcare law will require private insurers to cover all comers regardless of their health histories” (Helfand, 9/1).

The Fresno Business Journal: “A new UCLA study reveals that the San Joaquin Valley’s population is ground zero for diabetes and obesity in the state. The study, conducted by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, finds that as a region, the San Joaquin Valley has the highest prevalence of both obesity (30%) and diabetes (9.4%) in the state. … In California, the total annual cost of diabetes is estimated to be $24 billion, with $17 billion spent on direct medical care and $7 billion on indirect costs associated with the disease” (8/31). 

The New York Times: “Thirty-eight end-stage renal patients, most of them illegal immigrants, would receive the dialysis they need to stay alive at no cost under a rough agreement brokered Tuesday among local dialysis providers and Atlanta’s safety-net hospital, Grady Memorial. The deal, if completed, would end a yearlong impasse that has come to symbolize the health care plight of the country’s uninsured immigrants and the taxpayer-supported hospitals that end up caring for them. The problem remains unaddressed by the new health care law, which maintains the federal ban on government health insurance for illegal immigrants” (Sack and Einhorn, 8/31). 

Florida Times-Union: “Three public health clinics in Jacksonville plan to stop treating adults after [Monday], forcing more than 6,000 patients, including many pregnant women, to seek care elsewhere. The cuts are aimed at defraying a $2.8 million drop in the Duval County Health Department’s health care services budget this year, said Tim Lawther, the department’s assistant director. He attributed the decrease to a reduction in state spending on health care and the demise of a $1 million grant that sought to expand the county’s primary-care options” (Cox, 8/30).

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