Roundup: Calif. Issues Emergency Medical Care Expenditure Regs; High Risk Pools In Mich., Wis. Face Stumbling Blocks

Los Angeles Times: California Health Insurers Are Ordered To Spend At Least 80% Of Revenue On Medical Claims
California’s new insurance commissioner sought Monday to force health insurers to spend more of their revenue on medical care. In his first official act, Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones ordered emergency regulations requiring insurance companies to devote at least 80% of their income to policyholders’ claims in the state’s individual insurance market (Helfand, 1/4).

The Sacramento Bee: New Insurance Commissioner Jones Promises To Look Out For Consumers
Longtime Sacramento politician Dave Jones became California’s seventh insurance commissioner Monday, promising an activist administration that will push for health insurance reform and look out for consumer interest – all while promoting a “robust” and competitive industry in the state (Ortiz, 1/4).

Los Angeles Times: California Is Cutting Preventable Hospitalizations
California is doing a better job at cutting the number of unnecessary hospitalizations, but members of some minority groups, particularly African Americans, are still being hospitalized too often, according to recently released state reports that cite lack of access to regular healthcare as a prime source of the problem (Hennessy-Fiske, 1/4).

Detroit Free Press: Cost A Stumbling Block, Even In Insurance Pool
Michigan has few takers for its new high-risk health insurance pool. The coverage is comprehensive but costly — as much as $686 a month for older adults — and that has been a stumbling block, said Mary Anne Sesti, director of government programs for Physicians Health Plan of Mid-Michigan, a Lansing health plan that runs the insurance pool (Anstett, 1/4).

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Few In Wisconsin And Nationally Sign Up For High-Risk Medical Insurance
Fewer than 400 people with pre-existing medical conditions in Wisconsin have signed up for the new health insurance plan that became available last summer as part of federal health care reform. The plan provides coverage at market rates to people who can’t buy insurance because of health problems and who have been uninsured for six months (Boulton, 12/2).

(Minneapolis-St.Paul) Pioneer Press: Can’t Wait To Find Out How Long You’ll Wait At ER?
But at Regions Hospital in St. Paul and a growing number of clinics in the metro area, patients now can get an estimate of just how long — or short — their waits might be before they leave home (Snowbeck, 1/3). 

WBUR’s Common Health Blog: The Rocky Road To Payment Reform
WBUR’s Martha Bebinger called Nancy Kane, who knows hospitals inside and out and is a Professor of Management at the Harvard School of Public Health, to ask what will be so tough about the transition. Professor Kane outlined the three main components of this cultural shift (Zimmerman, 1/3). 

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Lithonia Clinic Continues Struggle To Provide Care
A free clinic in Lithonia that has helped an increasing number of uninsured and poor people get health care is on life support. South DeKalb Center for Healthy Living’s already small budget has dwindled for years, even as the number of patients in its primary care and specialty clinics, held on alternate Saturdays every months, has grown (Hunt, 1/3).

Des Moines Register: Iowa Health Services Agency Probed For Misspending, Denies Wrongdoing
State and federal investigators are looking into allegations of misspent public money at Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa. The organization is privately run but is funded in part by taxpayers and United Way. Polk County and the federal government gave the organization more than $3.5 million to spend on health services for central Iowans in 2009 (Kauffman, 1/3).

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